This, my friends, was a game that you simply did not want to end. In the beginning, Rangers ace Cliff Lee looked just like Cliff Lee, striking out 11 and walking none and leaving with a 6-2 lead. However, the New York Yankees came back to take the lead in the top of the ninth and win it by a total of 7-6. Kerry Wood picked up the win and Mariano Rivera certainly earned the save. The Yanks move to 70-43 on the year and gain a game  over the Tampa Bay Rays following their afternoon loss to the Detroit Tigers.

A-Rod Lines a Double - AP

Initial Reaction:

Considering so much happened in this up-and-down marathon of a game, let’s cut to the eighth with the Yanks down 6-3, at one point down 6-1 with Cliff Lee on the mound.

Frank Francisco came in to face the Yankees in the top of the eighth and gave up a bomb to Marcus Thames to cut the lead down to a run. Fast forward to later in the inning with runners on first and second with Austin Kearns up at the plate with one out. Francisco had lost all control of the strike zone but Kearns grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the ninth, Lance Berkman worked a walk and Brett Gardner blooped a single into left. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move up and not have to worry about Derek Jeter bunting.  A seeing eye single past the drawn-in infield by Jeter moved in the runner to score and tie up the game at six each. Marcus Thames came through huge again with a base-hit to the left side to somehow give the Yankees the lead, 7-6.

Then, almost on cue, Elvis Andrus crushed a triple off of Mariano Rivera to right-center field to lead off the inning. The very next pitch, Michael Young looped a ball to right field which was caught on the shoestrings by Austin Kearns. Next up was AL-batting leader Josh Hamilton, who got jammed by Mo and thrown out at first. Finally, Vladimir Guerrero grounded out to A-Rod at third to end the game. What a wild win.

Positives From The Game:

Curveball 101: Cliff Lee and Javier Vazquez were generating tons of swings and misses with fastballs that topped out at 90-91 MPH. How? Their huge 12-6 curveballs dropped down as low as 68 and made Robinson Cano, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bengie Molina look silly.

He Smoked It!: On the conclusion on an eight-pitch at bat, Alex Rodriguez drilled a fastball from Cliff Lee into deep left-center field for a double. This double tied the game at one a piece and gave Alex his 90th RBI on the year.

Elvis has Left the Building!: Kind of. He hit a ground-rule double in the top of the 7th that neither Josh Hamilton nor Nelson Cruz felt interested in catching in right-center. This made the game 6-3 in favor of the Rangers.

Negatives From The Game:

Poor Brett: As I was in the middle of cursing Brett Gardner for not swinging the bat, Brett smoked a 1-2 Cliff Lee fastball to right-center only to have it snagged out of the air on a great running grab by Nelson Cruz. That elongated Brett’s slump to 2-31 before he busted an RBI-single in the seventh.

Micromanaging: Ol’ Joe Girardi was back to his micromanaging ways tonight. With two outs in the 4th inning, Girardi called for an intentional walk to Daniel Murphy with a runner on second to face Bengie Molina. The problem was that Javy lost Molina on a full count to load the bases. Mitch Moreland singled off Lance Berkman’s (ugh) glove to score two Rangers. I understand D-Murph killed the Yanks last night, but intentionally walking him in the bottom of the fourth? Way too early.

The Rest of the Mess: Javy Vazuquez, after a strong start, couldn’t finish the fifth inning. He left the game with one out and two runners on and the scoreboard reading 6-1. Also, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada struck out a combined seven times.

Interesting Facts:

Per the official Yankee website, Mark Teixeira will catch up with the team on their road trip in Kansas City for tomorrow’s game after the birth of his third child, William Charles. We missed your bat and more importantly, your glove, Mark.

From the first through third innings, Cliff Lee retired nine Yankees in a row after a Derek Jeter single.

This was the third straight lefty faced by the Yankees. Tomorrow? Kansas City lefty Bruce Chen.

It caught my attention that the Arizona Diamondbacks went back-to-back-to-back-to-back on home runs tonight in the fourth innings. That sounds fun.

This was Cliff Lee’s first start since June 12th in which he did not complete at least seven innings.

What’s Next?:

The Yankees are done with their two game set in Arlington and travel to Kansas City for a four-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM and can be seen on the YES Network. Let’s hope some of last night’s momentum can be taken to Kansas City.

Projected Starters:

CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.14 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (7-5, 4.44 ERA)