Yankees hit four solo homers in 6-4, 10-inning win over Orioles
BALTIMORE -- Joe Girardi has heard the question almost as frequently as the ones about rehabbing players. At some point, a member of the media will ask a form of this: "How in heck are you guys still winning?"
A familiar script played out Monday night as an answer. Someone -- frequently multiple someones -- finds a way.
This time it was a combination of a slumping Travis Hafner and an even worse-slumping Ichiro Suzuki, along with yet another strong bullpen performance, that led the Yankees to a 6-4, 10-inning victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"Guys are coming through. The guys are getting the job done. There's no quit,'' Girardi said after his team's 12th come-back win. "They come to the ballpark excited to play every day and they're finding ways to win games. Sometimes when you look at our stats, we're not at the top of anything, but these guys have just done a really good job.''
The Yankees (28-16) trailed 4-3 heading into the ninth, but Hafner -- who had only three hits in his last 24 at-bats and had a cortisone shot in his left shoulder last week because of inflammation -- tied it with his eighth homer, an opposite-field shot with one out against Jim Johnson, who blew a save opportunity for the third straight time.
"Just kind of looking for a pitch to drive, something up,'' Hafner said of the 3-and-1 fastball. "He made a pretty good pitch there and I put a good swing on it. I was pretty pumped about that.'' As was the dugout, which reacted "like little kids,'' in the words of Vernon Wells.
The blast was the fourth solo homer and only the sixth hit of the night for the Yankees, who improved to 19-0 when scoring first this season and are a season-best 12 games over .500.
"Until the last out, you can't count us out,'' said Austin Romine, pressed into everyday catching duties because of Chris Stewart's groin injury.
Against Pedro Strop, Ichiro, with two hits in his last 30 at-bats, started the 10th inning with a double to right. He scored on a ground-rule double by Wells, who had been inserted as a pinch hitter in the eighth. Hafner added a two-out RBI single against lefty Brian Matusz to make it 6-4.
"Any time any of us has an off day, we want to be ready just in case something happens,'' Wells said, knowing full well that "something happening'' has been a way of life this season. "Joe looked at me, asked me if I was ready in the eighth, and I said, 'Sure.' But it was good to get in that situation [in the 10th].''
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 10th to record his 17th save in as many chances. "Mo's special,'' Wells said. "It's not normal what he does."
"It's not about one player, it's about 25 players and a bunch of guys in the bullpen,'' Rivera said. "Everybody's doing their job. It's amazing.''
The Yankees had been 0-16 this season when trailing after eight innings and had been 21-0 when leading after six innings. But CC Sabathia, handed a 3-2 lead in the seventh on Lyle Overbay's seventh homer, couldn't hold it in the bottom half as the Orioles took a 4-3 lead on opposite-field RBI doubles by Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy.
Overbay's homer off lefthander Troy Patton was the lefthanded hitter's first off a lefthander since May 28, 2011.
Former Yankee Freddy Garcia allowed two runs -- on homers by Robinson Cano and rookie David Adams -- and three hits in six innings. He outpitched Sabathia, who allowed four runs and 11 hits in 61/3 innings. Sabathia has allowed 21 hits in 122/3 innings in his last two outings. "Very frustrating,'' he said of not being able to hold two leads. "Luckily these guys were able to bail me out.''