New York Yankees Inside Pitch 2009-05-18

The Yankees have provided plenty of drama in winning their last three games on walk-off hits -- the first time since 1972 the Yankees have enjoyed such a streak. But Joe Girardi is more impressed with what the Yankees have done to come back from deficits in each game to make those late-inning thrills possible.

"We're playing defense, we're getting timely hitting when we need it and our pitchers have been very good," Girardi told reporters Sunday, shortly after Johnny Damon hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 10th to give the Yankees a 3-2 win over the Twins and run the Yankees' season-long winning streak to five. "It's big plays on everyone's part that allows you to have games like this."

Jonathan Albaladejo relieved A.J. Burnett with two outs and two on in the seventh and the Yankees down 2-0 and struck out Jason Kubel. Alex Rodriguez homered and Melky Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to tie the score, after which the Twins loaded the bases against Albaladejo. Brett Tomko entered and Mark Teixeira, who went 0-for-4, preserved the tie by making a diving stop of Denard Span's grounder and firing home to force Brian Buscher. Tomko then retired Matt Tolbert on a pop-up.

Yankees relievers have allowed three runs and struck out 11 batters in 11 1/3 innings over the three games. The Yankees have also played error-free ball in their last 35 innings dating back to an 8-2 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday.

The exciting and clean wins over the Twins are providing quite a boost to the self-esteem of the Yankees, who seemed to be teetering on the brink of disaster numerous times during a 15-17 start.

"[The wins] give you the belief that you can always come back, no matter what the situation is," Girardi said. "We got down in a couple of the games and we were able to come back. If you keep it close, you've got a great chance of winning the game because of the offense that we have. I think that just gives your club confidence -- just keep putting good at-bats on pitches and good things are going to work out."

YANKEES 3, TWINS 2: Johnny Damon went 3-for-4 and hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 10th as the Yankees recorded their third straight walk-off win by dramatically edging the Twins. The Yankees almost won in the bottom of the ninth, but Brett Gardner was tagged out at home by Joe Mauer as Gardner tried to score from second on a squibber by Francisco Cervelli in front of the pitcher's mound. The Twins snapped a scoreless tie in the seventh with two runs off A.J. Burnett, who threw 123 pitches -- most by a Yankees starter this year -- and allowed six hits and six walks while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. A quartet of relievers combined to allow two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings and rookie Alfredo Aceves earned the win for the second straight game.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 18, 2009