NEW YORK -- Do you believe in miracles?
Obviously, it's not easy with this New York Yankees team, especially with the kind of offensive performance they put on again Thursday -- that is, until a two-HR ninth-inning explosion that pulled out a 5-4 victory, and a series win, over the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
They still have a tough road ahead for that final AL wild-card spot, but with so little margin for error over these last 24 games, every win is crucial, and a win like this one feels monumental.
Now, if only they can keep it up ...
Tying HR & Walk-Off HR by Yankees
Same Inning, Past 15 Seasons
Chasing the glory: Chase Headley's home run into the right-field seats, a blast on a 3-2 pitch from Koji Uehara, gave the Yankees a walk-off 5-4 win, and Headley a Gatorade bath in one of the more dramatic wins of the year. Headley's game winner was set up by Mark Teixeira's leadoff homer off Uehara on a 2-2 pitch, his team-leading 21st of the season.
Running out of chances: The Yankees made another big baserunning gaffe in the seventh inning when call-up Antoan Richardson, sent in to pinch run for pinch hitter Zelous Wheeler (leadoff walk), was running on the pitch as Ichiro Suzuki lined one hard, but right at CF Mookie Betts. Richardson was nearly at second before he looked for the ball, and by then it was too late; he was easily doubled up. It wasn't completely Richardson's fault; clearly, Joe Girardi was trying any way possible to get another run out of his anemic offense and forced things a bit there.
Workmanlike performance: Aside from a three-run third inning, BoSox starter Brandon Workman, who came in 1-8 with a 4.93 ERA, kept the Yankees at bay in his five other innings of work, allowing just a first-inning double to Brett Gardner and an infield hit, off the end of the bat against the shift, to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position, proving once again how that can be a very misleading and meaningless stat.
Capt. Crush: Derek Jeter narrowly missed hitting a home run to right field in the first inning, but he didn't miss anything in the third, driving Brandon Workman's fastball over Betts' head to the warning track in dead center, driving in two runs to cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2. Jeter then scored the tying run on Carlos Beltran's single two batters later. For one night at least, Jeter looked as if he was hitting in the perfect spot in the Yankees' batting order. Jeter had had just 12 hits in his previous 56 at-bats (.214) and had just two extra-base hits in the past month.
Spanked: David Ortiz saw three pitches in his first two at-bats against Chris Capuano, and belted two of them out of the park, accounting for Boston's first three runs. Papi hit a laser into the right-field stands with the bases empty in the first inning, and a rainbow deep into the right-field seats with Betts aboard in the third. The two bombs gave Ortiz 44 career home runs against the Yankees, the second-highest total he has hit against any team in baseball. He has 54 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Head for the Hills: Girardi took no chances with having Capuano pitch to Ortiz a third time. When Papi came to the plate with one out and none on in the fifth, Girardi pulled Capuano and replaced him with another lefty, Rich Hill, who struck Ortiz out on a 2-2 curveball.
Just enough: Brock Holt hit the ball just far enough -- about a foot beyond a leaping Ichiro Suzuki's glove, where it landed on the top of the right-field wall and caromed into the crowd -- to give the Red Sox a 4-3 fifth-inning lead. It was Holt's fourth home run of the season and the third Capuano had allowed in the game. Capuano has now allowed six home runs in his past three starts, totaling 16 2/3 innings.
Next: Now that the Red Sox are out of the way, bring on the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals, with whom the Yankees split four games in Kansas City earlier this year. Probable pitching matchups: Michael Pineda (3-3, 2.09) vs. RHP James Shields (12-7, 3.38) on Friday at 7:05 p.m.; Brandon McCarthy (5-4, 2.80) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42) on Saturday at 4:05 p.m., and Shane Greene (4-2, 3.88) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (11-9, 3.38) on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.