BRONX, NY – One swing of the bat from Nick Swisher in the bottom of the ninth inning, a two-run blast to the left field bullpen prevented the Baltimore Orioles from sweeping a three game series from the New York Yankees in the Bronx It would have been the first sweep since June 1986 for the O’s at Yankee Stadium.
But Swisher has made it a habit of hitting the “walk- off” win this season. The last two Yankees walk-off wins have come off Swisher’s bat, but this one may have been more important as the Yankees prevented Baltimore from the sweep with a 3-2 win Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx.
As they embark on a nine-game road trip that takes them to American league western leading Texas for three, and three to Tampa Bay in what is a key AL east divisional series, the Yankees know how important this win was Wednesday afternoon.
“We put ourselves in a great spot, we just have to keep it going,” said Swisher about where his team stands. The Yankees have 22 games remaining, 15 on the road, two games ahead of Tampa Bay with the best record in baseball.
And his home run, 26th of the season came at the right time because up until that ninth inning Baltimore pitching once again had the Yankees perplexed at the plate. Right hander Brad Bergesen went 6.1 innings, allowed four hits, and a run, exiting with a 2-1 lead.
With Eduardo Nunez at first, pinch running for Alex Rodriguez who led off the inning with a single, Swisher got hold of a 2-0 pitch and hit it to the opposite field. With a bad knee, Swisher got two hits on the day after going 0-for his last 14.
“The wind was blowing out and it was a big win to end the home stand,” commented Swisher. The Yankees finished 7-3 in their longest home stand of the season.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova allowed two runs on six hits and did not figure in the decision. The bullpen went three innings without allowing a run. Joba Chamberlain (3-4) got the win, and Nova’s only mistake was a 3-0 pitch to Matt Wieters in the fifth that went over the left field fence with one on that gave the Orioles their two runs.
Nova would get out of a jam in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second Orioles’ Cesar Izturis popped out to Derek Jeter at short. That kept the score at 2-1. Nova would pitch one more inning, the sixth and allowed one hit.
“If we lose today it is not a good home stand,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “It was a big swing,” he said about Swisher’s home run. “Was the whipped cream fresh? They hadn’t done it in a while,” he commented about the traditional “walk-off” cream pie that went in the face of Swisher after the big home run that was hit off Orioles loser Koji Uehara (1-1).
The Yankees snapped a three game losing streak and remain the only team in baseball without a losing streak of at least four games this season.
The Yankees had their chances, and as in their previous three games failed to capitalize with runners on base. Francisco Cervelli ended the seventh grounding out to third stranding Robinson Cano at second and Marcus Thames at first, who pinch hit for Curtis Granderson.
After the game Girardi revealed that catcher Jorge Posada, not in the starting lineup, wasn’t available off the bench. The night before Posada was nipped behind the plate by a foul tip which may have caused a minor concussion.
Posada had a restless night and Girardi said, “He had concussion type symptoms after the game.” Posada saw the team doctor, was not at the ballpark and met with a neurologist. It was determined that Posada would travel to Texas with the team after tests came back negative.
When asked about Posada’s condition and availability for the upcoming road trip, Girardi said “If tests come back today that are okay we will take him with us.” Girardi also envisioned the worst possible situation, his starting catcher out indefinitely due to the severity and caution of concussion symptoms.
“I have contemplated not having him a little bit. If that’s the case we will have to deal with it,” he said. And as of now, the Yankees switch hitting catcher is day-to –day. However, as with all type of concussion type of symptoms, the Yankees will be cautious and monitor Posada before he is cleared to take the field.
There was concern in the Yankees clubhouse for their teammate. Before the results came in they had no time to reflect on how important the win was that kept the Yankees for the moment two games up on Tampa.
“He’s a big part of our ball club and hopefully he will be back in the lineup in a couple of days,” commented Brett Gardner who drove in the Yankees first run of the day in the third. His double to left scored Curtis Granderson who singled and stole second.
It was Swisher’s third career game ending home run. “I guess it’s my day,” he said. “It’s a monster win for us. “Obviously it’s a concern,” he said about Posada’s condition.
For the moment the Yankees condition is sitting well despite another brief losing streak. And they do expect Andy Pettitte to rejoin the pitching rotation in the next few days. Pettitte was scheduled to have a rehab assignment at Double A Trenton and if all goes well he could get a start on the road trip.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com