In beating the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon in The Bronx, the Yankees may very well have put together their most impressive win of their season so far. The team ran the bases well, got quality starting pitching, and came up with some timely hits to defeat a playoff-caliber team in the Rays.
The Yankees played the kind of baseball they hope to play from here on out--until the end of the regular season and through October, should they make it--highlighted by a 3rd in which they built a 5-0 lead. The inning started with an Eduardo Nunez walk and steal of second, followed by an RBI single by Derek Jeter. Jeter made a heads-up baserunning play (how many times have we heard that over the years), moving to second on the play as Rays' centerfielder B.J. Upton overthrew the cutoff man.
The team then showed a glimpse of something they haven't shown much of this season, and they will need come October--the ability to manufacture runs. After a picturesque sacrifice bunt by Nick Swisher, A-Rod drove in Jeter with a single to give the Yanks the early 2-0 lead. It wasn't long though before they reverted back to what they do best--hit the long ball. After a Robinson Cano walk Russell Martin pounded a Matt Moore fastball into the rightfield stands to extend the lead to 5-0.
That proved to be enough for dart thrower Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees' bullpen, who held onto the lead to give the team a 6-4 win. Kuroda had yet another strong outing, pitching 6 innings and stiking ten Rays hitters. In all he gave up four runs, but two of those came on an Evan Longoria ground ball that took a wacky hop over thirdbasemen Alex Rodriguez's glove, but otherwise would have been an easy double play.
A combination of Boone Logn, David Phelps, David Robertson, and closer Rafael Soriano picked up the final nine outs, moving the Yankees to 83-63 on the season, and ensuring they maintin sole possession of first place in the AL East for another day.