That is what a closer is for. Joel Peralta was having a tough time of his usual eighth inning role. With only one out, he had just given up an Alex Rodriguez no-doubter, and then he had walked Cano. At the start of the inning, the game had seemed like it was over, but now the Yankees were within one, and the leverage index had climbed above three, the highest it had been. But the outcome wasn't ever in the balance (silly me for worrying at the time, silly Yankees for having hope), because Maddon had Fernando Rodney warmed up, and was smart enough to use the best reliever in baseball at the most crucial juncture of the game, even if that meant a 1.2 inning save. Rodney did what you would expect. He slammed the door, punctuating the win by striking out Derek Jeter on three pitches to end the game.
David Price was nails, too, out-dueling CC Sabathia over seven innings. This was one of those total efforts for Price. He used all of his pitches, and all of them worked, with his changeup and curveball both producing whiffs over 20% of the time.
Bullets, notable and less so, below the jump.
- In the fifth inning, Derek Jeter hit a little dribbler toward second. Elliot Johnson might have made the play, but he didn't, and it squeezed under his glove for hit number 3,284, which put Jeter past Willie Mays on the all-time hits list. Price is clearly in the business of collecting Jeter milestones, as he also gave up Jeters 3,000th hit. I think he's probably selling them on e-bay.
- One out later, Alex Rodriguez hit a grounder to nearly the same spot Jeter had. This might actually have been a more difficult play, but EJ made it with a plum, ranging to his left and ending the inning. Peachy.
- Earlier in that same inning, Granderson knocked a popup off an elevated fastball that the Bronx Jetstream carried to the rightfield bullpen wall. It narrowly avoided Upton's glove, landed on the wall, and bounced over. All Yankee stadium jokes aside, it was a good piece of hitting by Granderson. Most batters aren't getting to that high heat.
- Speaking of Upton, he clubbed his team leading 23rd home run. This late season power surge feels like the 2008 playoffs. That means that Pena is about to start hitting, too, right?
- EJ had a good game, singling as part of the three run rally in the fifth inning, and narrowly beating a fantastic throw by Granderson home in the seventh to score from second for a crucial run.
- Oakland beat Baltimore, so the AL East stays knotted at the top, with the Rays three games behind. The Angels also won, to stay a half game ahead of the Rays in the wild card race.