The Yankees (55-50) were able to get a much needed win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon, which prevented a sweep to their American League East rivals. The game was highlighted by Derek Jeter’s return from the disabled list and Alfonso Soriano’s first homer during his second stint with the Yankees.
The 6-5 victory means that the Yankees are now only 2.5 games behing the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles for the Wild-Card. Ichiro Suzuki, who had four hits and an RBI, said that the Yankees are basically a new team now with the additions of Jeter and Soriano to the lineup. That is definitely the truth because they now have a another power bat to combine with Cano in the middle of the lineup and another hitter in Jeter who can hit one out of the park and be counted on for a clutch hit. These two former teammates allowed the Yankees to bust out of a long power outage.
Also, Hideki Matsui, who had a great tenure for the Yankees from 2003 until 2009, where he was a great teammate, drove in more than 100 runs for times, and was the MVP of the World Series championship in 2009, signed a one-day minor league contract so that he could officially retire as a Yankee. He always gave all out effort and never wanted to take a day off which is why Derek Jeter said that he was one of his favorite teammates in an interview.
After his on field ceremony, and previous official contract signing in a conference room at the stadium, Matsui came back on the field to throw the ceremonial first pitch. It was a strike and it looked like Matsui could still throw the ball with conviction. The Yankees gave fans a Matsui bobblehead and he was given a personalized framed jersey before the game from Derek Jeter.
Even though he played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays after leaving the Yankees in 2009, he said he always considered himself a Yankee. The ceremony obviously meant a lot to him since his parents came from Japan to be on the field for the ceremony.
Jeter, who homered on the first pitch that he saw in first inning after coming off of the disabled list, gave the Yankees their first homer since the All-Star break (nine games) and their first home run by a righty since June 25. It was a high fast fastball that Jeter has used to go the other way many times for a homer in his Hall of Fame career.
Later in the first inning, Vernon Wells hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Robinson Cano and Ichrio’s single to center drove in Soriano.
Phil Hughes struggled at home yet again as he gave up two homers to Rookie of the Year candidate Wil Myers, in his four innings pitched, which accounted for four of the five runs that he allowed. The bullpen did an outstanding job limiting the Rays offense since they only allowed one hit in four innings. Since Hughes obviously can’t handle pitching in the Bronx, the Yankees should see if a team will trade quality back for him. If not, then they should keep him.
In the third inning, Soriano hit a much needed home run to drive in Jeter. That was his 18th homer of the season. That puts him second on the team to Cano’s 21. In the ninth, Soriano hit a walk-off single that drove in Brett Gardner to give the Yankees a dramatic win in his third game back with the team. It was his fourth hit and third RBI of the game.
Granderson could return to the team on Friday, which will give the Yankees a much more formidable lineup than they had a few days ago. Their 1-5 in the batting order will likely be Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano and then Curtis Granderson. This win, highlighted by Jeter and Soriano, could definitely be a sign of what is to come.
It was fitting that Jeter and Soriano came up with big homers during this game because they were teammates with Matsui in 2003.