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Saturday, June 23, 2012
Yanks from way downtown ... bang!

By Andrew Marchand
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi is right. The New York Yankees are like a basketball team that relies on the 3-pointer. They win and lose via the long ball.

Love it or hate it, it is a fact for this 2012 Yankees team, which has scored more than 50 percent of its runs on homers.

On Saturday night, the Yankees evened this Subway Series because they again got hot from the equivalent of being behind the 3-point stripe.

Eric Chavez
Saturday's hero, Eric Chavez, returns to a happy Yankees dugout after his pinch-hit homer.

After being controlled all night by Chris Young, the Yankees broke through when Raul Ibañez nailed a tying three-run homer in the seventh inning. Two batters later, with Jon Rauch on the hill, Eric Chavez connected for his first career pinch-hit homer. It just scraped over the wall and, suddenly and dramatically, the Yankees had the lead.

If the Yankees' offense is made up of Steve Novaks, then the bullpen is a bunch of Tyson Chandlers. These relievers just get stops, making comebacks possible night in and night out.

The result: a 4-3 win over the Mets. The deep balls and relief pitching prevented what would have been the Yankees' longest losing skid of the year, four games. It made sure the Mets wouldn't be able to sweep with R.A. Dickey facing CC Sabathia on Sunday night.

"When you think about our club, they are in scoring position when they walk to the plate," Girardi said, updating his analysis after the win. "That is the type of club we have."

Comebacks are often the work of pitching as much as offense. Ivan Nova threw a strong 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and overcoming the fielding failures by his well-compensated left side of the infield.

Following Nova was scoreless relief from five relievers, most notably Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. They held the Mets down as the offense swung for the fences.

In the seventh, Logan entered with an out and a runner on third. As Logan reached the mound, he didn't exactly have his all-time high in confidence after a poor warm-up.

"I just went in there and said, 'Screw it, I'm going to be aggressive with my fastball and slider and throw the crap out of it,'" Logan said, eloquently.

Logan struck out Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy to end the inning.

In the eighth, Robertson made it interesting by walking two straight after an initial strikeout. Of course, anyone who has followed Robertson the past couple of years knew he had the Mets just where he wanted them.

Robertson struck out Justin Turner looking and Kirk Nieuwenhuis swinging.

"It felt good to not give it up," Robertson said.

After a relatively uneventful ninth, Soriano finished up his 14th save.

So, yes, the Yankees have a one-dimensional offense. The plague of failing with runners in scoring position has become neverending. They are hitting .217 with RISP. Robinson Cano is the biggest culprit at .143 (9-for-63).

But maybe it doesn't matter, because the Yankees still lead the AL East.

They can go long throughout their lineup. On Saturday, it wasn't Cano, Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira. It was Ibañez, who has been like Reggie Miller this season, delivering the clutch long ball in a big spot.

"It is just who he has been his whole career," Girardi said of Ibañez.

Like Ibañez, Chavez was once a star. Now, he is a reserve, but his résumé makes it so the Yankees know he won't be overwhelmed by any moment.

Against Rauch in the seventh, Chavez went down 0-2 and felt like he wasn't picking up the ball. Then he connected.

"I thought it was going to go foul," Chavez said.

The ball stayed just inside the foul pole and the Yankees won by the home run again. They have more of them (110) than anyone in baseball. If you are going to be one-dimensional, there is no better weapon. It is who they are.