Everything seems to be going the New York Yankees’ way these days. On a night when Mariano Rivera blew his first save since April 20, the Bronx Bombers needed just a little roller off the inside off Derek Jeter’s bat to beat the Baltimore Orioles.
Jeter (pictured), who came to the plate with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth in a 6-6 game, got jammed on a pitch from Chad Bradford and hit it softly in between the pitching mound and first base. The slow-rolling ball deflected off of Bradford’s glove and toward Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, but by the time Roberts collected the ball, Melky Cabrera had already crossed home plate with the wining run.
The only Yankee to collect two hits in the victory was catcher Jorge Posada, but Bobby Abreu and Wilson Betemit both went deep for the Bombers. Rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain shined in his second appearance since being called up to the Yankees, striking out two Orioles in one inning of work—the eighth—with an electric repertoire of fastballs and curveballs. But in the ninth Rivera couldn’t hold a 6-5 lead, surrendering three singles as Baltimore tied the game, which set up Jeter’s walk-off heroics.
The win—the team’s fourth straight and ninth in 10 games—allowed the Yankees to remain even with the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card race and just four games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, both of whom won the other night. But after two more contests with the Orioles, New York plays their next 11 games against Detroit (eight) and Anaheim (three), both playoff-caliber teams. It’s time to find out if Joe Torre’s squad is just a bunch of bullies who can domineer the dorks of Major League Baseball (the Kansas City Devil Orioles), or if they’re real contenders.