Beat Boston to Continue Command of First
(Photo by Gary Quintal)
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, August 20- More than 330,000 fans came to Yankee Stadium during the most recent seven game homestand of the Yankees. Many fans took advantage of summer vacations to spend some time at the great ballpark in the Bronx.
The first four games were contests between the Texas Rangers, leaders of the American League West, and the Yanks, leaders of the American League East. Fans could have been witnessing a preview of the ALCS. The battle between the two American League powerhouses was centered upon which of the two clubs would finish the 2012 season with the best record in the league, thus capturing home field advantage in the American League Championship Series.
The two clubs entered the series with identical won/loss marks, 67-47. The Yanks clinched the four-game series by winning the first three contests while holding the Rangers to a total of four runs. Yankees starters David Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda and Freddy Garcia each won one contest.
The Texas offense came to life in the final game on Thursday by scoring 10 runs on 16 hits. The 10-6 victory allowed the Rangers to leave the Bronx without having been swept.
Although the Yanks gave up 10 runs on Thursday, manager Joe Girardi reflected on the team’s fine work, “We pitched pretty well. We swung the bats pretty well. We played pretty good baseball. We’re in the race for the best record.”
After the Rangers limped out of town on Thursday night, the Boston Red Sox began their second three-day visit within a month. The three sell-out crowds were treated to some interesting baseball between the arch-rivals in the American League East.
The Yanks, more than any other club in the majors, have lived and died by the home run. On Friday, their season high of five homers provided them with a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox. On Saturday, the only run scored by New York was by a solo home run by Curtis Granderson. The single run was not sufficient as Boston won by a score of 4-1.
The multi-homer hitter for the Yankees on Sunday night was not the usual suspect. Icharo Suzuki homered in consecutive at bats to the delight of the full house. He followed the two four baggers with an infield single. Much less surprising was that Derek Jeter hit safely in his first three at bats. The three hits raised his career total to 3,251, one below Napoleon Lajoie, who is in 12th place. The four Yankee runs were scored by the two future Hall of Famers, Jeter and Suzuki. Each crossed the plate twice during the game.
Hiroki Kuroda held Boston scoreless for 6.1 innings before surrendering a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez. That homer was the only run given up By Kuroda in his eight innings on the mound. The 4-1 win was the ninth in his last 11 decisions.
The Yanks are still leading the race in the A.L. East, but the final outcome has not been decided. Tampa, in second place, has won 11 of its last 13 and Baltimore, in the third place, has won 11 of 15. The Yanks will face the Rays in six additional games and will play Baltimore on seven more occasions. The Yankees have kept pace with their challengers, winning 9 of their last 12 contests. The home games were not only a financial success, but were beneficial to the pennant race for New York as the Yanks won five of the seven games played.
The ability of the Yankees to win on the road as effectively as they do at Yankee Stadium will also be a factor in the race for the American East title as 16 of the club’s next 22 games will be played on the road.
The answer to where the Yankees will place as the regular season concludes may be a little clearer to discern on August 27 when the Yanks return to the Bronx after a six game road trip.