The New York Yankees (5-4) clinched a 2-1 series victory over the Los Angeles Angels (3-6) at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, winning 11-5 before 41,055 in attendance. Designated hitter Raul Ibanez drove in three runs--two on a monstrous home run in the bottom of the seventh--and starter Ivan Nova (W, 2-0) (6.0 IP, 8H, 4R) did enough to extend his personal winning streak to 14, which is Major League Baseball's longest active streak.
Even though this season is merely nine games old, the importance of edging out Los Angeles in a best-of-three wasn't lost on the Bombers--5-1 since their three-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays--and their postgame comments gleamed with confidence.
"[The Angels] have a really good lineup, there's no doubt about it," Nova told Yahoo! Contributor Network. "But every time that you have confidence that you can do it, I mean, it's easy for you to do it. So it wasn't that hard for me today."
"I think everyone in here already knows the types of things this lineup is capable of doing," said Nick Swisher, who drove in Robinson Cano with a single immediately before Ibanez homered. "I think it's all about going out there and proving it."
In Los Angeles' portion of the second, Mark Trumbo broke the ice, hitting a solo home run off Nova to left, but Ibanez answered with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the inning. New York then rallied for four runs in the third, making Angels right-hander Jerome Williams (L, 0-1) (2.2 IP, 5H, 5R) the latest casualty of its powerful offense.
After Derek Jeter's three-run homer in the fourth gave the Yankees an 8-1 cushion, the Halos chipped away, closing within 8-5 on Albert Pujols' RBI single in the seventh. Ibanez's seventh-inning blast off veteran reliever Jason Isringhausen--which landed in Yankee Stadium's third tier (suite level)--highlighted a three-run rally that put the game away and capped New York's season-high 11-run output.
The prodigious bomb was also Ibanez's first homer at home as a Yankee.
"It definitely feels good, especially when you help the team win. That's the most important thing," Ibanez said. "[Hitting coach Kevin Long has] been huge; he's there with the information, and he's with you every day and he's making minor adjustments here and there with you, so having a guy like Kevin Long has been tremendous."
"On paper, we look pretty good, but then again you gotta go between the lines and make it happen," Swisher said. "I think tonight was an explosion for us at the plate. It was great. Guys, one-through-nine, we feel that there's not an easy out in the entire lineup. If we can continue to keep pounding, keep grounding out ABs, it's going to be a very successful season for us."
The Yankees, behind veteran Freddy Garcia (0-0, 5.79 ERA), will open a four-game set at home vs. former Yankee Carl Pavano (0-1, 5.93 ERA) and the Minnesota Twins (2-7) Monday night.