Richard Justice

Yanks bring drama, emotion in sweep

Justice: Yanks bring drama, emotion in sweep

Yanks bring drama, emotion in sweep
NEW YORK -- It was one little victory that could almost certainly get overlooked in the weeks ahead.

"We forget about this," Derek Jeter said. "This is over with."

Well, now.

Inside the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, they're focused on a larger prize, but you already knew that. Still, for one Sunday afternoon in June, the Yankees delivered great theater, complete with a gritty comeback and an emotional ending.

They got contributions from almost every corner of the clubhouse and made smart, daring plays on the basepaths and with the glove. They rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead only to let it slip away in the top of the ninth.

All of which made Russell Martin's walk-off home run that delivered a 5-4 victory over the Mets in the bottom of the inning even sweeter.

"What a great win," Andy Pettitte said.

And that's about as far as the Yankees are going to go. They're on a roll now, having won 13 of 17 to get nine games above .500 (34-25) and within a half-game of the Rays in the American League East. They're doing it their way, leading the Majors with 94 home runs, including 31 in the last 17 games.

Pettitte's return has had a calming effect on Phil Hughes, and settled down an area of worry. In the last nine games, Yankees starters are 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA.

The Bombers aren't perfect. Mariano Rivera isn't coming back this season, and the guy who was supposed to close, David Robertson, remains on the disabled list for a few more days.

Closer-of-the-moment Rafael Soriano let a one-run lead get away on Sunday and was pulled. Robertson has electric stuff, but he also has just four career saves.

All that aside, the Yankees are feeling pretty darn good about themselves after a 5-1 home stand that included a three-game sweep of the Subway Series.

"I think it's a boost when guys feel good about themselves," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Especially going out on a road trip."

Girardi said when the Yankees have had great runs through the years, they've had a bunch of players contributing. Good teams very seldom are carried by one player or even three or four players.

Everything these Yankees are doing begins with a rotation that at this point is justifying general manager Brian Cashman's optimism.

But on Sunday, their recipe included a teaspoon of this and a dash of that. For instance, Martin homered twice in the eighth spot in the batting order.

And Jayson Nix, subbing for Jeter at short, made a huge defensive play in the ninth with a laser throw that nailed the potential go-ahead run, Ike Davis, at third base.

Moments earlier, Jeter made the first big play of a two-run eighth-inning rally when he beat out an infield hit to short and then hustled to second on an error by Omar Quintanilla.

"It can come from different spots," Girardi said. "You hope that's the case.

"When our club puts together streaks over the years, it's come from all different directions. It's different guys in the lineup. It's guys in the bullpen stepping up. You need that. Every team is going to go through their difficult times, injuries. Sometimes you've got to find a way to overcome some of 'em."

Jeter scored the tying run in the eighth on Mark Teixeira's single, and Alex Rodriguez singled to get Curtis Granderson home.

The Yankees have had a terrible time hitting with runners on base (.221 with runners in scoring position, .156 with the bases loaded), but Teixeira has gotten 14 of his 36 RBIs in the seventh inning or later. The Yankees have come from behind to win 18 times.

This kind of stuff pretty much means nothing to the Yankees. To them, winning is winning is winning.

"We've played pretty well," Teixeira said. "There's always room for improvement."

Richard Justice is a columnist for Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.