The Finally Off Slide

YANKEE STADIUM — What a way to avoid a three-game sweep.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees (87-53) ended their 10-game homestand in walk-off fashion when 2010 AL All-Star Nick Swisher – batting left-handed – launched closer Koji Uehara’s 2-0 fastball over the wall in left-center with a man on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles (53-87), 3-2.

The celebration that ensued was exactly what you’d expect following a walk-off win in The Bronx: uninhibited jubilation amongst the remainder of an announced crowd of 44,163, and the proverbial, A.J. Burnett pie-in-the-face routine – an act that inadvertently had collateral damage in the person of YES Network reporter Kim Jones, as a huge chunk of whipped cream found its way onto her face while she was interviewing Swisher.

When it was all said and done, Swisher’s 26th home run of the season gave New York a 7-3 mark on the homestand and momentum going into their three-game series vs. the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which kicks off Friday night.

With this swing, Nick Swisher hit his 2nd walk-off homer as a Yankee and the 3rd overall for his career. (Photo by Bill Menzel)

“I knew [Uehara] attacked with a lot of fastballs. He came at me with a fastball and I put a good swing on it,” an excited Nick Swisher told writers. “Off the bat, I felt like [the game] was tied, but the ball just crept over the wall.”

“[The Orioles] came in and took two games; we didn’t like that one bit,” Swisher added.

Prior to New York completing their Major League-leading 44th comeback of the season, Brett Gardner doubled in Curtis Granderson with a drive over left fielder Felix Pie. On the play, Gardner was cut down at third trying to stretch it into a triple, but not before he gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, the Orioles went up 2-1 on catcher Matt Wieters’ two-run home run (11) to left off starter Ivan Nova.

The O’s were knocking on the door for more runs in the sixth with men on first and second, but Nova got shortstop Cesar Izturis to line out to short for the third out, which brought an end to his day.

Even though he wasn’t the pitcher of record, Nova (6.0 IP, 6H, 2R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR) felt his outing this afternoon was as good as any he’s had since being promoted to the big club. Ivan Nova didn’t factor into the decision, but he was certainly happy about the game’s result. (Photo by Bill Menzel)

“It was one of the best ones; I was working hard and I put it all together,” said Nova.

For Nova, It also didn’t hurt to have a part in the Yankees’ 22nd walk-off victory at this Stadium, a total that includes their extra-inning triumph over the Minnesota Twins in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS.

“It was the first time I’ve seen a walk-off home run in person,” Nova told Latino Sports. “I see a comeback like that and it makes you feel awesome.”

David Robertson took over pitching duties and blanked Baltimore in the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Orioles manager Buck Showalter replaced starter Brad Bergesen (6.1 IP, 4H, 1R, 2BB, 5 SO) with lefty Mark Hendrickson, who struck out DH Lance Berkman swinging.

Girardi had Marcus Thames pinch hit for Granderson, and the move paid off, as Thames lined a single to right-center off reliever Jim Johnson (pitching for Hendrickson) that allowed Robinson Cano to advance to third base. Johnson, however, rebounded by getting Francisco Cervelli to ground out to third.

Jorge Posada was an ideal option over Cervelli in that spot, but earlier in the day, the 39-year-old catcher exhibited symptoms of a concussion attributed to a foul ball that struck him in Tuesday night’s game, according to Joe Girardi. Tests conducted by a neurologist on Posada came back negative, putting an end to speculation suggesting that the Yankee veteran could be sidelined for the rest of the season a la Jason Bay.

In the top of the eighth, after Robertson got Ty Wigginton to fly out to center, lefty Boone Logan recorded the next two outs with strikeouts of Luke Scott and Felix Pie.

Jim Johnson retired the Yankees in order in the bottom of the eighth, and Joba Chamberlain (W, 4-5), who eventually earned the win, threw a scoreless ninth.

Once Alex Rodriguez led off the bottom of the inning with a hard-hit single to left off Koji Uehara (BS, 1) (L, 1-1), rookie Eduardo Nunez came in to run for Rodriguez and trotted home two batters later, when Swisher’s shot sailed over the wall.

“You hear the crowd today…  The fans have been great to me, the city has been great to me,” said Swisher, who actually had a game-winning homer vs. Tampa Bay exactly one year ago (9/8/09). “It was a huge win for us.”

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