A collection of takeaways from a 5-1 week that may just have saved the Yankees’ season:
–Saturday’s miraculous comeback win over the A’s was the biggest win of the year. I’ve harped all season about Bad Losses, games that a team should win but somehow doesn’t. The obvious counterpoint to that is what we’ll call Good Wins — victories that either come from nowhere or somehow occur against all odds. Saturday’s absurd dream of a five-hour, 43-minute, 14-inning, 10-9 win for the Yankees was as Good as a Good Win gets. Check out the schizophrenic win probability chart for the game — going into the bottom of the 13th, the Yankees had a 2 percent chance of winning! After the Bombers squandered two great chances to win in the bottom of the 12th (Raul Ibanez getting thrown out at home on a ground ball for the second out, then Derek Jeter flying out with the bases loaded to end the inning), the team seemed headed for a frustrating loss that would allow the Orioles to pull even in the AL East.
Instead, the Yanks demolished Pedro Figueroa and Pat Neshek, two back-of-the-bullpen pitchers for Oakland who were forced into service because both teams had exhausted their relievers by this point. Though Neshek has quality numbers over the past two months, he struggles mightily against lefties, who have hit .385/.429/.846 against him this season. Coincidentally, Raul Ibanez hits lefty, and the Yankee veteran crushed a 3-1 breaking ball from Neshek into the second deck in right field to complete the comeback and tie the score at 9-9. After that, nothing could stop the Bombers, not even the sight of Cory Wade on the mound in the 14th or rookie pinch-runner Melky Mota MISSING THIRD BASE on what would have been a game-winning single by A-Rod in the bottom of the 14th. Two batters later, Eduardo Nunez slapped a routine, inning-ending ground ball to first — only A’s first baseman Brandon Moss booted the ball, allowing Ichiro to score from third and letting Mota off what would have been a very sharp hook. A back-from-the-brink victory over a fellow playoff contender with 10 days to go in the season? That’s pretty much the definition of a Good Win.