We were watching the Yankees game Tuesday night when Nick Swisher stepped up to the plate in the ninth inning and Amy said, "Swisher wants some pie tonight."
And even before I could even I could tell her how Swisher's homer in the second had been only his fourth at Yankee Stadium all season and that his last homer at the stadium before that was on June 8, there was Swisher, rounding the bases after lining a shot just over the right field wall to give the Yankees a 3-2 victory over the Rays, slicing New York's magic number to 15 and keeping the Bombers (90-50) nine games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.
The lesson: Never argue with your wife. There's no way you can win.
Anyway, Swisher's homers were his 25 and 26th of the season and Tuesday marked the third time this season he's homered from both sides of the plate in a game.
Most of Swisher's damage has been done on the road, where he's hitting .281 with 21 homers and 55 RBI.
At home Swisher is hitting just .213 with five homers and 22 RBI. We can only hope that Tuesday was the start of a turnaround at the Stadium.
But what might have been most encouraging from this game was the start turned in by Chad Gaudin. The righthander, who was making just his third start for the Yankees, allowed just one run -- an Evan Longoria homer in the seventh -- on six hits and two walks in 6+ innings. He struck out six and threw 51 of 76 pitches for strikes.
Gaudin has pitched pretty well in his three Yankee starts and when he left this game, it looked as if he'd get a well deserved win, especially after Brian Bruney got some nice defensive support from Alex Rodriguez before Phil Coke got Akinori Iwamura to ground out with the bases loaded to preserve a 2-1 lead.
But then the unthinkable happened -- Phil Hughes allowed a run. Jason Barlett led off the eighth by smoking a shot deep into the left field stands to tie at 2.
It was stunning. Since joining the bullpen, Hughes has been about as automatic as, well, Mariano Rivera. Hughes entered the game having not allowed a run in his last 12-1/3 innings. In 34 games covering 42-2/3 innings out of the bullpen, Hughes is 3-1 with three saves, a 1.27 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP and 54 strikeouts.
No one is perfect ... not even the great Mariano (2-2, 1.72 ERA), who pitched a perfect ninth for the victory. Hughes is going to give up a run and the lead on occasion. Let's just hope Highes gets those hiccups out of his system in the regular season.
Derek Jeter, meanwhile, went hitless for a third straight game, going 0-for-4 to remain at 2,718 career hits. He is now hitless in his last 12 at-bats. We're so used to Jeter being able to handle pressure without flinching that it is almost stunning that he's struggling as he approaches Lou Gehrig's team career record of 2,721 hits.
In a strange way, Jeter's pursuit of this team record has almost superseded the result of the game. Fans are eager to laud him and celebrate this accomplishment. For a player that is completely about the team, all this individual attention has to be a tad overwhelming for Jeter.
However, he is fortunate to have A-Rod and Mariano on the team. Those two have experienced what it is like to pursue career milestones and surely if Jeter wants it, they can offer plenty of advice.
In the meantime, Jeter will be more than happy to celebrate walkoff victories such as the one Swisher delivered.
A-Rod drove in Johnny Damon with a single in the sixth to make it 2-0 and give Damon 100 runs scored in a season for the 10th time in his career. ... Swisher's walkoff homer gave the Yankees seven this season. ... The Yankees have 13 walkoff wins this season. ... The Yankees have seven of their last eight against the defending American League champion Rays.
Runners In Scoring Position
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
Vs. Red Sox
Wednesday vs. Rays, 7:05 p.m., YES
Jeff Niemann (12-5, 3.67 ERA) vs. Joba Chamberlain (8-5, 4.41)
Another joke of an abbreviated start for Joba. I just hope his three or four innings will be scoreless for a change before Alfredo Aceves comes in for his 2+ inning stint.