But Yanks Still have a lot of Work to Do
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 29- They needed the win, with or without Derek Jeter back in the lineup Sunday afternoon. The New York Yankees got the walk-off win in the ninth inning from Rafael Soriano. For the moment, as they depart for a road trip to Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago, the Yankees are feeling good about themselves.
They could not afford being swept by first place Tampa Bay. And the feeling was, after that Derek Jeter home run in the first inning, this would be the game. One game, for the moment the Yankees felt good about themselves after their 6-5 win in the Bronx.
The right handed bat, one they have lacked, also returned. Alfonso Soriano in his third game back in pinstripes goes 4-for-5 and a home run. Indeed, the Yankees have a better lineup and much different with a healthy Jeter at bat and on the field. And with Soriano, the Yankees also believe they have the right handed bat they need.
“Being able to win one like that especially going on the road is important,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi who was the first to show a sign of relief when Jeter deposited a ball to left field off Mike Moore in his first at bat after his second stint on the disabled list.
It was nice to see Jeter smile going around the bases.
Girardi knows, as does every Yankees fan about the significance of Jeter in the lineup. He is the captain, and one of those right handed bats that have been missed which have made this an offensive strapped and incognito lineup.
“He’s a winner, his presence,” commented Girardi. “To get a big day from him and Soriano, to be able to do what we did today was important.”
And getting home runs, the first two for the Yankees in their last nine games, that was important. “It helps put some quick tallies on the board,” said Girardi. “It changes our lineup.” Yes it does. Instead of four or six left handed hitters in a row, the Yankees now have right handed bats in between.
“It’s was fun, I worked hard to get back on the field,” said Jeter who said the home run gave his team a run and possibly the jolt they needed. He did not have fun his first time back going down again, after three at bats in the Bronx and quickly hitting the disabled list a second time with a strained quad.
It was his first home run and run batted in, and as late in the season as it is, any contribution from the Yankees and the captain is an added improvement from what has been coming from this lineup.
“I said, thank God because I did not want to play extra innings because I was tired. I was happy for Sori,” said Jeter about the walk-off hit from his teammate.
Soon, Curtis Granderson will return and add to the list of welcome back from the walking wounded. The Alex Rodriguez soap opera will continue because Major league Baseball is expected to hand out suspensions of more players with the latest steroid scandal.
A-Rod is expected to get a healthy sentence, though the appeal process could get him back in the lineup and playing ball in the Bronx. And as much as the Yankees would rather have the A-Rod stigma go away, if he is healthy and productive, the complexion of the Yankees lineup changes as could the race in the American League east.
But Jeter and Soriano, hitting home runs in the same game as teammates for the first time since 2003, was the moment Girardi has been waiting for.
They are a rejuvenated team with additions in the lineup. At the same time the Yankees have a lot of work to do, as they dug a hole for themselves with the walking wounded and makeshift lineups Girardi has put on the field.
For now, as the Yankees depart on a long road trip they can feel good about things, seven games out of first place and in the wild card hunt. A major reason why, the Captain Derek Jeter is back in the lineup and healthy with 57 games left to play.
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