Saturday, July 14, 2012
Before Russell Martin singled in the winning run last night, even he was waiting to see if Joe Girardi would replace him with a pinch hitter.
“I was hoping he wasn’t going to,” Martin said after the Yankees’ came back to beat the Angels, 6-5 in The Bronx. “But if he would have, I would have completely understood.”
Girardi insisted he never considered making a move, but it would have been difficult to argue, since Martin had a horrific first half in which he hit .179 and endured an 0-for-30 skid shortly before the All-Star break.
The manager’s faith was rewarded when Martin slapped a 98 mph cutter from Kevin Jepsen into right field to drive in pinch runner Dewayne Wise for the winning run.
It capped a four-run eighth highlighted by Mark Teixeira’s three-run blast, which tied the game earlier in the inning.
The Yankees were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position before Teixeira’s game-tying homer, so that issue doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Teixeira hit two homers and drove in five of the Yankees’ six runs, but was quick to credit Martin, whose struggles have been a concern throughout the season.
“Russell has been battling,” Teixeira said. “Physically, he’s beat up. Probably more than anybody, he needed those four days off.”
Martin vowed he would have a better second half and Girardi had a meeting with the catcher shortly before the break.
“I think he felt it was necessary,” Martin said. “It fired me up. I’m sure his patience was wearing thin and that’s why we had that little talk. But nobody was getting more frustrated than [me].”
Martin also threw out three baserunners, including Howie Kendrick at second to end the game when he pounced on Rafael Soriano’s pitch that bounced and skipped away.
But it was Teixeira — and Nick Swisher — who helped put Martin in position to come up with the game-winner.
Teixeira, who hit a two-run homer off C.J. Wilson in the third to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead, got Hiroki Kuroda off the hook with his eighth-inning blast. Kuroda surrendered a three-run homer to Mark Trumbo in the seventh to put the Angels up 4-2. It was Trumbo’s fifth straight game against the Yankees with a homer.
And after the Yankees gave up another run in the eight to make it 5-2, Swisher made a leaping grab at the wall on another Trumbo fly ball that prevented at least one more run from scoring.
“I’ll take a bruise for a great catch every day,” said Swisher, who banged into the plexiglass on the wall to make the play and save Chad Qualls — who improved to 2-1.
Derek Jeter then started off the eighth with a double off Scott Downs and after Curtis Granderson walked, Teixeira homered for the second time.
Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano were both retired before Swisher and Raul Ibanez both walked to set up Martin’s clutch hit that gave the Yankees their fifth win in six games.
“I liked his swing all night,” Girardi said when asked why he didn’t consider pinch-hitting for Martin. “I told him the second half starts all over for you. As tough a time as you had offensively, we won a lot of games.”
And with a productive Martin, perhaps they’ll win even more.
“It’s just one game,” Martin said. “But I’m starting to feel better about myself. Definitely better than I felt before [this game].”
Posted by Nitu at 02:52