A scheduling conflict meant that I couldn't actually watch this game, and it was a classic. I found myself getting up repeatedly during an important dinner to find reception for my phone or catch a score update on ESPN by the bar. The Yankees won the first home game they played after the passing of Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner with style, and a lot of help from Nick Swisher. The first time All-Star tied the game in the bottom of the 8th with a booming moon shot to right that probably landed in Yonkers and later won the game in the bottom of the 9th inning with an RBI single that scored Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees came from behind in this one. CC Sabathia was good but not great over 7 innings, allowing 4 runs to score (3 earned). It was 3-1 Rays entering the bottom of the 6th inning, when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada went back-to-back against Ray's pitcher James Shields to tie the score at 3 runs apiece.
Sabathia couldn't hold the Rays back, though. He allowed the go-ahead run to score in the top of the 7th. Following the game as I did, I was certain the Yankees were going to lose by one. Nick Swisher had other plans. Proving that his quick flame out in the Home Run Derby in no way harmed his swing, Swisher had 3 hits on the night, knocked in 3 of the Yankees' 5 runs, tied the game and then later won it. After leaving the Stadium he went to City Hall to help balance the budget.
The Rays and Yankees follow up last night's drama with a late-afternoon game. Coverage is on Fox and the start time is set for 4pm. A.J. Burnett looks to continue his comeback against Jeff Neimann. Burnett has been better at home and during the day this season. He'll need all the help he can get. Niemann has emerged as one of the Rays best pitchers this season (despite what his peripherals suggest) and could give the Yankees trouble.
For some time I've been writing that this series would set the tone for the 2nd half of the season. It has lived up to expectations out of the gate and the Yankees came away with an important win. The team will retain sole possession of 1st place in the division now, no matter how things end against Tampa this weekend. Hopefully the Bombers will put some real distance between themselves and the Rays.