Soriano: “I love to do that. I love to steal bases.”
IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: This was a win the Yankees needed badly. Alfonso Soriano made it happen, stroking an 11th inning double off Jamey Wright and taking advantage of the green light to steal third base, beating the throw in with a headfirst slide. Curtis Granderson lifted a fly ball to the outfield and Mariano Rivera locked down the save, preserving the Yanks’ 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Robinson Cano homered and drove in both of the Yankees’ runs off of Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb. Evan Longoria homered and had two RBIs against Ivan Nova, who held the Rays to a pair of runs on six hits despite tying a career high with six walks (one intentional). The Yanks averted a series sweep, settling for one game out of three in St. Petersburg.
MANAGER’S TAKE: “I mean, that’s a big play, being able to steal third there. It changes the complexion of that inning. And it’s a big double. The time before [in the eighth], he just missed hitting a homer foul, and maybe we don’t go quite as long if it stays fair. We got a lot of big performances out of a lot of people today.” – Joe Girardi
Soriano: “When the team needs one and the pitcher gives it to me, I like to steal. That’s my game. It’s very important to help the team to win. I love to do that. I love to steal bases.”
Robinson Cano: “We needed a win so bad. Nothing you want less than to get swept here. Like I said, we lose the first two, and then we just go out there and fight the whole game.”
Curtis Granderson: “It’s very big. I think coming into it you’d like to get both series. Obviously we didn’t get a chance to do that, but winning both series means you’ve got a chance to win hopefully four out of the six games here. We still have an opportunity to do that going to Toronto. It’s definitely not going to be easy but we’re still on track. We’ve got to go ahead, rebound and take advantage of this one, and go on to tomorrow and try to get another one against [R.A.] Dickey.”
Ivan Nova: “I was pushing for that W. It’s not only the personal things. I want to pitch good every time I go out there. Even though I walked six guys; I don’t think it was that bad. I battled until the end and we got the win.”
Girardi huddled with Preston Claiborne in the clubhouse after the game. He’ll be the roster move to create space for Derek Jeter tomorrow. It may seem like a tough break for Claiborne, but he has certainly shown enough that he’ll be back soon after rosters expand on Sept. 1st.
Longoria homered in all three games of this series; his shot off Nova was the first Nova has allowed since Nelson Cruz hit one on July 22. The Yankees improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games, and are 5-5 in extra innings this year. New York’s starting 7 through 9 hitters (Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Chris Stewart) combined to go 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts today.
Cano improved to 7-for-19 (.368) lifetime vs. Cobb. A-Rod’s pinch-hit single in the 10th was the first of his career (1-for-15). Mariano Rivera’s 37 saves at Tropicana Field are the most ever by a Rays opponent and 27 more than the next highest total (10, Jonathan Papelbon).
The Yankees will try to keep the momentum rolling Monday when they travel Nord des Lignes to meet the Blue Jays in Toronto, sending Phil Hughes (4-12, 4.88) to the mound against R.A. Dickey (9-12, 4.49). First pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. ET. The Yanks are 11-1 vs. Toronto this season and need one more win to match their most ever in a single season, accomplished in 1995, 2004, 2005 and 2009.