The pregame talk has centered around George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard as players reflected on their memories of both. Derek Jeter spoke of how Steinbrenner wanted to beat the Rays really badly, even in spring training since they are from his hometown. It's only fitting that the Yankees host the Rays tonight in their first game since the death of Steinbrenner.
It's also a series for first place in the A.L. East. The Yankees (56-32) lead the Rays (54-34) by two games. C.C. Sabathia (12-3, 3.09 ERA) will face James Shields (7-9, 4.87 ERA).
There will be no player introductions tonight to honor Sheppard. Only music will be played. Can I get some Papoose?
The Yankees also sent Kevin Russo to the minors and recalled Juan Miranda. Joe Girardi said Miranda will get a good amount of at-bats.
YANKEES 5, RAYS 4 FINAL
As we expected on this night, the Yankees win in dramatic fashion. Nick Swisher goes 3-for-5 with a home run and the winning single. Mariano Rivera gets the win. Swisher gets the pie in the face and loves it. He looks at the crowd, flexes and smiles. The Yankees extend their lead over the Rays to three games.
A recording of Sheppard tells the fans to arrive home safely.
Bottom 9: The script is playing out. Jeter is due up fourth, so he'll get the walk-off. That would make Rivera the winner and Posada also homered. You can't make this up. Lets see what happens. Randy Choate now pitching for the Rays. Granderson leads off with a single. Ramiro Pena pinch hits for Miranda and sends Granderson to second on a successful sacrifice bunt. Gardner walks and here comes Jeter. This script can't be written any better. Dan Wheeler, a former Met, now pitching for the Rays. So we have Jeter, a former Met and the Rays. Geez, wonder what will happen here? Surprisingly, Jeter strikes out. Lance Cormier now comes in for the Rays to face Swisher, who singles to rightfield and Granderson beats the throw home. Swisher goes 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Yankees 5, Rays 4
Top 9: Mariano Rivera is now pitching. Upton reaches on a single as A-Rod has the ball and a shattered bat coming at him at the same time. It was a catchable ball, but with the bat coming his way, A-Rod ducked and missed the ball. Then Upton gets picked off as he was leaning the wrong way. Crawford flies to left and Longoria strikes out looking. Yankees 4, Rays 4
Bottom 8: Joaquin Benoit now pitching for the Rays. Swisher makes sure he doesn't get robbed this time. No doubt on this blast into the second deck of rightfield for his 16th homer to tie the score. Tex walked before A-Rod popped up to second base. Cano struck out for the second out and Posada grounds out to Zobrist to end it. Rays 4, Yankees 4
Top 8: David Robertson now in to pitch for Sabathia, who went seven innings and allowed four runs -- three earned -- eight hits, walked four, and struck out six. Robertson strikes out the side. Rays 4, Yankees 3
Bottom 7: Grant Balfour replaces James Shields on the mound. Balfour gets the side in order. Rays 4, Yankees 3
Top 7: Upton reaches on an infield single to start the inning. Crawford singles to right and the throw goes to third and the speedy Upton beats it and Crawford alertly takes second to set the table. Longoria was walked intentionally and Pena followed with a strikeout. Zobrost grounds out to A-Rod and Upton scores to give the lead back to the Rays. Shoppach grounds out to Cano to end the inning. Rays 4, Yankees 3
Bottom 6: And some life back in the Stadium. Cano hits a two-out blast to centerfield. It is his 17th homer of the season. Posada follows with a rocket over the rightfield fence for his 10th homer on a 3-and-0 pitch. Granderson strikes out to end it, but the score is tied. Rays 3, Yankees 3
Top 6: I guess getting robbed was still on the mind of Swisher. He misplayed a ball in rightfield and it was ruled a two-base error. Aybar then sacrificed Shoppach to third. The error doesn't come back to hurt as Kapler hits a shallow fly to right and Bartlett grounded out to Jeter. Rays 3, Yankees 1
Bottom 5: Upton makes a nice sliding catch as he raced in for a shallow ball off the bat off Gardner. Jeter grounds out to Shields and is now 0-for-3. Some great defense by the Rays in the inning. Kapler robs Swisher of an extra-base hit with a leaping grab in front of the wall. It appeared the ball would have hit the top of the wall. Rays 3, Yankees 1
Top 5: The leadoff hitter reaches as Bartlett singles for the second time. After striking out twice, Upton draws a walk. Crawford singles to load the bases with no outs. The Rays get a run, but Sabathia gets a 5-4-3 double play from Longoria. Pena followed with a walk. Zobrist struck out looking to end the inning. Sabathia has had a tough time throwing strikes, but he has kept the Yankees in the game. That double play was huge. Rays 3, Yankees 1
Bottom 4: Posada walked with one out, but Granderson and Miranda struck out swinging to end the inning. Shields has four Ks. Rays 2, Yankees 1
Top 4: Zobrist led off with a blast to center, but it was caught by Granderson in front of the wall. Sabathia then induced a grounder before walking Aybar. The inning ended on a fielder's choice. Rays 2, Yankees 1
Bottom 3: Gardner started the inning with a walk. After Jeter grounded to short, Swisher singled down the rightfield line to score Gardner. Shields got the next two outs to end it. Rays 2, Yankees 1
Top 3: Bartlett led off with a single before Upton gets called out looking. It was the second time the struggling Upton struck out. Then Crawford grounded out to first moving Bartlett to second. Longoria then hit a line drive that landed on the leftfield line for a run-scoring double. Pena struck out to end the inning. Rays 2, Yankees 0
Bottom 2: The Yankees go in order in the second. Rays 1, Yankees 0
Top 2: The Rays get an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Willy Aybar. Zobrist reached on an infield single and went to second on an A-Rod throwing error. Kelly Shoppach followed with a single. Rays 1, Yankees 0
Bottom 1: Shields retired the first two batters before issuing a walk to Teixeira and A-Rod singled to center. The threat ended when Cano flied out to left on a 3-and-1 pitch. Yankees 0, Rays 0
Top 1: C.C. Sabathia has an easy first inning getting the side in order, including a strikeout. Yankees 0, Rays 0