Unlikely Allies Help Yankees to Comeback Win

Late rally bails out A.J. Burnett.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Teixeira takes a rest before the big finish.

    Yankee Lightning is a phrase that came to life in the late 1990's as a way of describing the seemingly inevitable comebacks pulled off by those championship teams.

    Monday night's 5-4 win looked like a classic case of Yankee Lightning striking the opposition. Trailing 4-2 after seven innings, the Yankees posted two runs in the eighth and added one more in the ninth to wind up as the winners.

    The comeback rewrote the script of a game that looked like it was following two other well-worn storylines until that point in time. The first was the Yankee habit of failing to hit pitchers they've never seen before and the second was A.J. Burnett's habit of sometimes showing up for work without any chance of stopping the opposition.

    Alex Cobb was called up by the Rays to start on Monday night and he did a swell job of quieting the Yankee bats. He allowed just two runs in six innings by following the path blazed by so many others of relying on offspeed stuff around the strike zone to keep the Yankees off the bases.

    Burnett did nothing of the sort, throwing his pitches every which way and watching the rare one over the plate get battered back into the field of play. He allowed four runs in the first two innings, 14 baserunners in 5.1 innings and it is lucky the number wasn't higher in both cases because the offense might not have been able to bail him out if he was even a little worse.

    This wasn't your normal case of Yankee Lightning, however, because actual lightning played a role in the proceedings. The Tropicana Dome was hit by a bolt during Robinson Cano's at-bat in the fifth inning on Monday night, knocking out a bank of lights and causing a delay that lasted almost 20 minutes.

    When the game returned, the Yankee bats suddenly came to life as well. The Yankees were 2-for-17 before the outage, but went 6-for-19 with five walks once the lights returned to life which makes you think maybe there's something to the Yankee Lightning thing after all.

    Or maybe there's just something to playing a team a night after they played a 16-inning game against the Red Sox. The Rays bullpen that blew the game was overtaxed to the point that Joe Maddon tried to use Kyle Farnsworth to get a five-out save when the Yankees put a couple of runners on in the eighth.

    Seeing Farnsworth succeed this season has likely baffled most Yankee fans, so it was reassuring to see him do what he did in the Bronx and blow the lead in the eighth. The Rays then had to turn to rookie Alex Torres to make his big league debut in the ninth, a decision that wound up leading to three straight two-out walks with the last one forcing in Curtis Granderson with the winning run.

    Not your everyday Yankee win, but you'll take them any way you can get them when Burnett pitches the way he did on Monday. You don't overcome Bad A.J. all that often, so it is worth celebrating the times that you do, even if you needed a little help from some unlikely friends.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.