Commentary

Rally comes at perfect time for Yankees

Headed to yet another home loss, the Bombers came through in dramatic fashion

Updated: May 25, 2011, 9:47 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- They never gave up. They never quit. They never surrendered.

And by the time it ended, the New York Yankees were celebrating near their dugout like it was 2009 all over again, hugging and high-fiving each other after A.J. Burnett gave the last hero of the evening, first baseman Mark Teixeira, a face full of pie.

The Yankees recorded their second walk-off victory of the season Tuesday night, coming back from four runs down in the eighth inning to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 in front of a raucous crowd of 41,519 at Yankee Stadium.

They had been 1-18 when trailing after eight innings but made it 2-18 with a comeback for the ages.

"I think it's big, especially considering who it came against," said center fielder Curtis Granderson, who drove in the tying run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, stole second base and eventually came around to score on Teixeira's walk-off single -- his first regular-season walk-off RBI as a Yankee.

"Toronto tended to have our number from last year to the start of this year. They're a team that always plays well against us. But to come back and get a victory over this team, and with the race in the American League East as tight as it's been all year, this is definitely a big one for us, and now we have a chance to win the series."

After going down 4-1 in the top of the fourth inning, it looked as though the Yankees were done -- headed for their eighth loss in their past 10 games at the stadium.

Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero was shutting down their anemic offense -- the same one that had gone 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position in Monday night's 7-3 loss to Toronto -- while ace CC Sabathia had just allowed the Blue Jays to bat around.

But somehow, some way, Sabathia found a way to settle down. He retired the last 16 hitters he faced -- and his resiliency rubbed off on his teammates.

"For him to go out there and be able to bounce back and keep us in the game, that was huge," Teixeira said of Sabathia (5-3, 3.17 ERA), who picked up the 24th complete-game victory of his career, scattering eight hits and four earned runs over nine innings.

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Michael Heiman/Getty ImagesMark Teixeira came through with the big hit that capped the Yankees' rally against the Jays.

"I was just trying to make pitches and minimize the damage," said Sabathia, who held vaunted Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hitless in five at-bats, while striking him out with the bases loaded to end the top of the third.

Sabathia and the Yankees didn't know it at the time, but that at-bat turned out to be one of many turning points Tuesday night.

After being limited to just one run over seven innings by Romero, the Yankees began to claw back in the bottom of the eighth against Toronto's bullpen, getting within a run after second baseman Robinson Cano made up for committing his fifth error of the season with a run-scoring double, and catcher Russell Martin followed with an RBI single to plate Cano and make it 4-3.

"You hear a lot about how we're a home run hitting team," said Martin, who hit the Yankees' major league-leading 72nd homer of the season -- his ninth blast overall -- in the second. "It was nice to put a little streak [of hits] together there."

Sabathia retired the Blue Jays in order in the top half of the ninth, setting the stage for what was to come -- even if it was rather unexpected.

After left fielder Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the ninth with fly out against Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco, pinch hitter Jorge Posada recorded just his sixth hit in his past 25 at-bats as a pinch hitter since 2009, a double into right field, which put the tying run in scoring position.

Reserve outfielder Chris Dickerson came in to pinch run for Posada, who was seen in the dugout saying, "It's about time!"

And those three words seemed to foreshadow what was to come.

Captain Derek Jeter grounded out to third, putting the Yankees on the ropes. But down to their last at-bat, Granderson delivered his fourth hit of the evening, a single into right field, plating Dickerson from third and tying the game at 4.

"Curtis is doing a great job," Teixeira said. "I said it a couple days ago -- he's really solidified that No. 2 spot. It's fun to watch."

Granderson wound up stealing second, and Teixeira drove a humpback liner that ricocheted off Toronto first baseman Juan Rivera's glove and into right field.

"You have to understand the situation there," said Granderson, who was thrown out by Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia in the bottom of the fifth. "It's not a gamble because I know I can make it. I was just looking around for the safe call [after I slid]."

Said Teixeira: "All I needed was a single. Early in the at-bat, I wanted Curtis to steal."

Granderson raced home. The Yankees climbed out of the dugout. The stadium was in a euphoric state.

And it felt like 2009 again, when the Yankees led the majors with 51 come-from-behind wins, 28 last-at-bat wins and 15 walk-off victories.

In just two innings, the Yankees had gone from being on the verge of a sweep to having a chance to win the series.

The question is: Can a dramatic victory such as this one turn a team's season around?

"Yeah, it can turn it around. It's a good feeling when you win like that," Posada said. "Everyone's looking for A.J. [getting the pie ready]. Everyone's happy in here."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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