NEW YORK – Trailing the Chicago White Sox by three runs, the New York Yankees offense exploded for five runs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, sparking a rally that was capped with a game-winning double by Eduardo Nunez that marked just the seventh time this season the Yankees won while trailing after seven innings.
After Brett Gardner was called out on strikes to start the inning, The Yankees rattled off five straight hits, including a double by Robinson Cano and RBI singles by Alfonso Soriano and Curtis Granderson that tied the game at four. Two batters later, Nunez cleared the bases with a shot down the left field line, bringing Granderson and Alex Rodriguez home and giving the Yankees a 6-4 victory.
“It’s a great comeback, but every game is important. It’s like the playoffs,” said Nunez after his Gatorade bath. “Now, we have to win tomorrow.”
Nunez also played a large role in the Yankees scoring their first run of the night. With Chris Stewart at the plate, runners on the corners, and two outs, manager Joe Girardi ordered up a double steal with Nunez on first and Vernon Wells on third. Nunez went halfway to second base, forcing a throw down and allowing Wells to slip in under the relay back to the plate. Nunez would head safely into second.
Hiroki Kuroda gave a valiant effort on the mound, but once again still was not quite as good as the Yankees would have liked for him to be. He worked out of multiple jams, but still gave up four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks over 6 1/3 innings and did not factor into the decision.
“I thought his stuff was better tonight, I did,” Girardi said of Kuroda’s outing. “The top of the order has been tough on him, and they were tough on him again tonight. But I thought his stuff was better, and that’s a good sign to me.”
Kuroda’s counterpart on the mound, Chris Sale, had turned in a very strong performance before leaving in that five-run eighth inning. The hard-throwing lefty was charged with three runs – two earned – on five hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings. Sale struck out six Yankees on the evening.
“Sale has been extremely tough on us,” Girardi noted. “He was tough on us there, but Robbie gets that big double that gets him out of the game, and then guys just put great at-bats on the relievers. That's a huge win.”
In addition to the Yankees victory, their Captain, Derek Jeter continued his path towards baseball immortality, surpassing Eddie Collins for sole possession of ninth place on baseball’s all-time hits list with a 2-for-3 evening.
“It’s amazing what he’s accomplished, and obviously he’ll continue to move up,” Girardi said. “He has a big at-bat in that eighth inning to get the rally started. You can’t say enough great things about what he’s meant to this organization and this team, and what he’s done in his career.”