Yankees-Angels: Alex Rodriguez Comes up Big in Clinching a Playoff Spot

September 23, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

The Yankees have been struggling of late.

They just lost two of three to the Seattle Mariners and lost their first game to the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 on Monday night.

The Yankees needed to win just one game to clinch a playoff spot, or they could get some help if the Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland A’s, then the Yankees could clinch a spot that way.

The Rangers ended up losing to the A’s 9-1, so the Yankees clinched a playoff spot before their game ended. But in 2009, the Yankees were 0-4 in their games at Angels Stadium and desperately needed to win to get some confidence that they can win in the Angels building, just in case they see them in the playoffs.

The Yankees got off on the right track with two-run home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in the top of the third inning to put the Yankees up 4-0.

A solo home run from Hideki Matsui put the Yankees up 5-0 in the top of the fifth inning.

The Angels found a way to chip away at the Yankees lead in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run by Chone Figgins and an RBI single from Vladimir Guerrero, making it 5-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gary Matthews, Jr. hit an RBI single and Bobby Abreu walked with the bases loaded to make it 5-4 Yankees. Guerrero hit a scorching line drive to third, but Rodriguez made a nice diving play and threw out Guerrero to preserve the Yankees lead at 5-4.

Maicer Izturis’ RBI single tied the score up at 5-5, but with runners on first and second and one out, Phil Hughes kept the Yankees in the game by striking out the final two batters in the bottom of the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, Brett Gardner led off the inning with a single up the middle. With Derek Jeter up, Gardner took off for second base and was called safe, his 23rd steal of the year. Jeter walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Johnny Damon laid down a great sacrifice bunt to move over Gardner and Jeter. Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked for Rodriguez. The game was now in A-Rod’s hands to win.

And he came through for the Yankees again by driving the ball to center field. Torii Hunter caught the ball and threw towards home, but Gardner’s speed was too much for Hunter to catch and Gardner scored the go-ahead run to put the Yankees up 6-5.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mariano Rivera started out shaky by walking Kendry Morales on a close 3-2 pitch. He was replaced by the speedy Reggie Willits.

Up next was Juan Rivera, who struck out on an outside pitch and Willits was going on a hit and run and was gunned down from a throw by Posada. It went from nobody out to two quick outs for the Yankees and one away from beating the Angels.

Erick Aybar was the final batter, and he grounded the ball to Robinson Cano and was thrown out at first. With that, the Yankees clinched a playoff spot, defeating the Angels 6-5 in a nail-biting finish and great game.

The Yankees won their 96th game of the season, and with the win and a Red Sox 5-1 loss to the Royals and Zack Grienke, reduced their magic number to clinch the American League East division to six.

With Boston’s loss, the Yankees moved back to six games ahead of the Red Sox in the division.

Chad Gaudin started the game for the Yankees and looked good through the first four innings, but ran into some trouble in the fifth and had his pitch count jump, which made him last only 4 2/3 innings, but left the game with the lead.

Phil Hughes gave up the lead in the eighth, but because he was still in when the Yankees took the lead, ended up picking up his eighth win of 2009.

Mariano Rivera picked up his 41st save of the season to nail down the playoff spot.

After a year with no playoff baseball in the Bronx, the Yankees will be returning to the postseason in 2009.

With 10 games left, all that is left is determining where the Yankees will end up finishing in the American League.

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