July 16: Yankees 5, Rays 4
Recap: Pregame ceremonies dedicated to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard overshadowed the game on the field - for the most part. That was until Nick Swisher's late-game heroics delivered the Yankees a ninth-inning, walk-off win. Swisher's game-deciding single was his second big hit of the game - he homered earlier - and gave the Yanks a win over the Boss' hometown team.
Key stat: Mariano Rivera earned the win after pitching a scoreless ninth. His ERA dropped to 1.02 on the season. Photo Credit: Getty Images
Nick Swisher (Achilles) is back in the lineup after two days not starting (he did pinch-hit yesterday). He took three turns in the cage, and put a couple in the second deck, although they may have been foul. Regardless, he looks ready to go today.
As does Brett Gardner, who sat out yesterday due to acid reflux, an issue he's dealt with a couple times in the past. He was in the clubhouse bright and early this morning, and even before speaking with manager Joe Girardi, said he expected to play today.
For the Royals, there's an interesting quirk. Before Tuesday, righty Sean O'Sullivan had never faced the Yankees. But today he'll be pulling the rare feat of starting for two different teams against the Yankees in the same homestand (he was in the Thursday deal that sent Alberto Callaspo to Anaheim).
On Tuesday with the Angels, he allowed two first-inning runs but was near-perfect after that and earned his first win of the season. At one point, he retired 12 in a row. Like today, he was opposed by Phil Hughes, who got battered for six runs in his five innings of work.
On May 12, Hughes had an ERA of 1.38, but it now stands on the cusp of 4.00 at 3.99. In June, he was 4-1 with a 5.17 ERA, and in three starts this month he is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA. That includes a seven-inning, one run gem on July 9 in Seattle.
Yankees (61-35, 1st place in AL East by three games over Tampa Bay)
1. Jeter, SS
2. Swisher, RF
3. Teixeira, 1B
4. Rodriguez, DH
5. Cano, 2B
6. Posada, C
7. Granderson, CF
8. Gardner, LF
9. Pena, 3B
Royals (42-55, fourth place in AL Central, one game better than Cleveland)
1. Podsednik, LF
2. Kendall, C
3. Betemit, 1B (K.C.'s regular first baseman and second leading hitter average-wise, Billy Butler at .315, is getting a day off. His last off day came on June 10 at Minnesota.)
4. Guillen, DH
5. Ankiel, CF
6. Aviles, 2B
7. Gordon, RF
8. Betancourt, SS
9. Getz, 3B
Here are a couple notes on today's game...
-The Yankees are 33-16 at home on the year, which is a half-game behind Detroit for the best home record in the American League. The Royals are 22-30 on the road.
-The Yanks are 10-8 against the AL Central. They've taken two of the first three from the Royals in this four-game set, the teams' first meetings this season.