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Friday, April 12, 2013
Joy in the Bronx for first-place Yankees

By Andrew Marchand

Robinson Cano, Kevin Youkilis and CC Sabathia were jumping around like little leaguers. There was pure joy in the raw, moist, frigid air in the Bronx on Friday night.

With the tying run at the plate in the eighth, the Yankees had just finished off a triple play that was scored 4-6-5-6-5-3-4. It ended any chance of an Orioles comeback, and the normally stoic Cano looked like Ric Flair, yelling "Woooo!" as he smiled his way off the field. Youkilis pounded everyone in pinstripes in his sight with hard high-fives.

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano celebrates after the final out of the triple play on Friday.
It was as if the corporate Yankees were letting their hair down on a casual Friday.

"That was the craziest, coolest, any adjective you want to throw in there that is positive," Youkilis said. "It was amazing. That was a lot of fun. You are not going to see a triple play like that turned like that. I haven't seen one. There probably has been one in the history of baseball. That is history. A triple play is a triple play. You can't beat it."

Suddenly, the written-off Yankees can't be beat. They have won four in a row after Friday's 5-2 win over the Orioles. They are above .500 for the first time in 2013. And they are tied with the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East at 5-4.

The only thing that can stop them these days is the weather, which prevented them from beating up on the Indians the previous two nights in Cleveland.

On Friday, with Sabathia "brilliant," to use Joe Girardi's description, they let the Orioles beat themselves with Adam Jones dropping a relatively routine fly ball in the seventh to give Sabathia the three-run lead.

In the eighth, Sabathia got into trouble after two leadoff singles. But then he faced Manny Machado to start the rare triple play.

Machado hit a hard one-hopper right at Cano, who shoveled it to Jayson Nix at second base for the first out. A heads-up Cano instructed Nix to go to third base to get the lead runner.

Nix was a step ahead, already acting on instinct and firing the ball to Youkilis. Youkilis and Nix flipped the ball back and forth before tagging Alexi Casilla for out No. 2.

Next, Youkilis threw across the diamond to Lyle Overbay. Machado took off for second base. Smoothly, Overbay delivered a strike to Cano to complete the triple play. Cano lifted both of his arms as if it were the last out in October.

The 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play was only the second triple play for the Yankees since 1969. Sabathia was on the mound for the other one, too -- a more conventional 5-4-3 triple play that saw Alex Rodriguez throw to Cano, who fired on to Nick Johnson to nail Kurt Suzuki on April 22, 2010. Friday night's triple play will stick with you longer.

"You are not going to see one like that happen and at a crucial moment, too," Girardi said. "You are going to see some triple plays, but it is not always going to be a crucial moment in the game. They enjoyed it."

The Yankees are still hurting -- Eduardo Nunez has a bruised wrist after being plunked by a pitch, and Andy Pettitte had his next start pushed back due to back spasms.

But the Yanks are happy, too. Cano is suddenly on fire, adding two more hits to improve his little league-like statistics in the past three games to 9-for-14 (.625). Sabathia's velocity is no longer in question, as he is as effective as ever. Not even 10 games into this season, misery has been replaced by joy in the Bronx.

"It was awesome," Sabathia said. "Any time you get a triple play, it fires you up."

The old Yankees suddenly look youthful.