Yankees take what O's give them in win
Nine walks, passed ball, bases-loaded walk help Bombers down Orioles
BALTIMORE -- Before Monday night's game against the Orioles, several Yankees players sat around the clubhouse and talked about baseball.
They talked about being more patient at the plate, emphasizing the little things that make good teams better. This wasn't another team meeting. This was a group of ballplayers just talking about the game they love.
Judging by the result of Monday's 6-4 win over Baltimore, New York's players took their own advice.
"We were talking about baseball," said Jorge Posada. "We talked about the feeling you get at the plate, the feeling you get on defense. Make it simple. We're getting back to the basics.
"We're behind each other," Posada added. "I think it was a good conversation."
The Yankees were outhit, 10-7, by the O's, but the Bombers took advantage of nine walks in the game. Monday marked the second consecutive day that the Yanks erased a 4-1 lead, using a three-run sixth to tie the game before scoring runs in the eighth and ninth to put it away.
Bernie Williams, who was not in the starting lineup for a second straight night, provided the game-winner with an RBI sacrifice fly in the eighth.
"It's not healthy, but it certainly feels good when it's over with," said manager Joe Torre of the comeback wins. "I like that we've been sticking our nose in, fighting our way back."
Nobody is ready to pronounce the Yankees as being healed of their problems and ready to take control in the American League East with these last two victories, but the Bombers certainly took a step in the right direction.
"There's been a lot of talk, internally, about what we have to do as a unit," said Alex Rodriguez. "Even though we didn't kill the ball all over the field, what helped to win the game were some patient, quality at-bats."
The Yankees gained a game on both the first-place Red Sox and second-place Orioles, as they now sit 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL East and three games behind Baltimore and Minnesota, who are tied for the AL Wild Card lead.
Carl Pavano, winless since May 22, tossed six innings of four-run ball, but he got some key outs when he needed to, keeping the Yankees within striking distance.
"From a personal standpoint, I was erratic in the zone, but I got some double plays and some big outs when I needed them," Pavano said. "I wasn't dominant, but I kept us in the ballgame and these guys battled hard."
"We minimized damage today," Torre said. "Pavano pitched well, gave up some base hits, but he battled it."
Down, 4-1, in the sixth, the Yankees remained patient at the plate against O's starter Daniel Cabrera. With a runner at first and two outs, Jason Giambi walked to put two men on for Ruben Sierra, who laced an RBI single.
"We don't have to put so much pressure on ourselves," said Sierra, who was a central figure in the pregame chat session. "Sometimes we try to do too much, get too anxious at the plate. With the talent that we have here, we have to let it happen."
Tino Martinez, pinch-hitting for Tony Womack, worked yet another walk, loading the bases and putting an end to Cabrera's day after 5 2/3 innings.
Chris Ray picked up where his starter left off, walking Derek Jeter to force Giambi home. The Yankees tied the game, 4-4. just seconds later on a Sal Fasano passed ball, which plated Sierra.
With the score still tied, Steve Kline started the eighth for Baltimore, giving up a leadoff single to Posada. Home plate umpire Marty Foster called a balk on Kline for stepping off the mound, advancing Posada to second. Kline, enraged by the call, argued with Foster, who ejected the reliever from the game.
After Giambi was intentionally walked, Sierra grounded into a fielder's choice, beating out the throw by Miguel Tejada to put runners on the corners. His hustle was rewarded, as Williams lifted a sac fly to center against Jorge Julio, scoring Posada for the game-winner.
"You have to hustle. When you hustle, things happen," Sierra said. "You can win games in different ways, not only with a home run. Doing things like that, hustling, moving runners, it can get the job done."
Tanyon Sturtze tossed a scoreless seventh for the victory. Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera closed out the win, with Rivera earning his 17th save.
"There's a lot of fight here. It's certainly been paying off for us," Torre said. "I know we're supposed to hit a lot of home runs, but these are the types of games that build character."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.