I cannot believe what the hell just happened.
My hands are still shaking.
My heart may or may not be fighting the good fight against certain cardiac arrest.
I feel my head could pop off my body, either from light-headedness or excitement or sensory overload (because, ya know. That’s the normal consequence…)
The Yankees just beat the Twins in 11 innings, off the bat of Mark Teixeira–his first walkoff in pinstripes, the Yankees’ 11th postseason walkoff.
You know how this recap started? At 9:08pm I sat down at my desk, preparing myself for the agony of defeat, and wrote the following:
I had forgotten what this feels like. I hated watching other teams play in the postseason last year. I was so jealous. And now I remember how miserable it is. One loss, and I feel like I lost a limb. I can’t go out, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I just want to curl up in a ball until Sunday comes.
Now? Well, the prospect of recapping the last 5 hours of my life is a little more palatable right now:
- A.J. Burnett’s postseason debut was a stellar coming-out party, as he dealt his standard array of filthy sliders and slurves and gas and whatever other permutation of pitches he could come up with to get the outs. And of course treated up to his standard array of wildness, which we’ve now come to accept as part of “Good AJ Dealing” Deal.
- Over 6 innings of 3-hit ball, he blanked 6, and let up 1 run when on Brendan Harris’s triple drove in Delmon Young.
- Down 1-0 in the 6th with only their third baserunner of the game on 2nd, Alex Rodriguez delivers his 2nd clutch hit in as many games. My buddy texts me: “I don’t think I can handle a clutch A-Rod tonight.” Apparently, I wasn’t the only one ill-prepared in terms of proper head-to-neck adhesion.
- At this point in the game, you’re looking at it like it’s your basic nailbiter pitcher’s duel, and the fact that it’s a postseason match makes it that much more impressively exciting. Amazing. Little did any of us know that in a few hours, the tied score in the 7th would be the least compelling timeframe.
- For all the talk about CC Sabathia, A-Rod, and Burnett being galactic liabilities in the clutch, none of us, and I mean NO ONE, considered for even a second that our stumbles would arise with Phil Hughes on the mound. It’s like when I took my road test and practiced parallel parking for the weeks prior. I dominated that part, and then ended up failing on account of going 50 in a school zone, not wearing my seatbelt, going the wrong way in a one-way street, and running a stop sign.
- In 0.2 innings of “work,” Hughes walked 1, and let up 2 runs on 2 hits, with all occuring on 2 outs. The golden child who redefined the value of the 8th-inning-setup all season long…put the Yankees in a 3-1 hole heading into the bottom of the 8th.
- Our other relievers were effective to varying degrees, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain pitched to 4 batters between them, ceding zero runs. So when the game is handed over to Hughes then quickly snatched back to give to Mariano Rivera, you know Joba’s thinking, “Yep, been there, done that…”
- You gotta hand it to the Twins, they manufactured the hell outta baserunners, and off a very formidable pen. Nick Punto and Denard Span hit singles in the 8th to drive in Carlos Gomez and Brendan Harris. Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer excelled offensively as expected, and with the team’s12 hits on the day, they definitely out-basehitted the Yanks. But for my money, I’d rather be able to manufacture wins, than hits.
- Minny also had 12Ks (compared to the Yanks’ 4), which was ultimately their undoing, having left 17 runners and if scoring opportunties were currency, then the Twinks were squandering them away like it was the 15th of the month.
- So between Minnesota and New York fans, basically no one is a fan of the Yankees’ penchant for getting into jams just so they can work themselves out of it. I mean, I’m just as happy as the next guy to see the bottom of the inning roll around, but I may or may not have spent an abnormal amount of the game getting physically sick from nerves. Forget W.B. Mason, the more fitting corporate sponsor is PeptoBismol.
- Then there was the 9th inning, and nothing I could write could ever possibly do justice to what A-Rod accomplished. He already had the only RBI of the game, and after Tex singled to reach first, A-Rod launched a bomb off supercloser Joe Nathan into the Yankee bullpen. It didn’t just tie the game, it sent a message and it infuriated his critics…because there’s no denying his postseason performance.
- The only people more aggravated than Twink fans right now are anti-A-Rod activists who have been spending the last hour in an emergency summit meeting, where they’ve locked themselves in a conference room to brainstorm ways to dilute A-Rod’s performance in the the clutch. Hope they stocked up on Starbucks.
- So now we got a whole new ballgame. Tied at 3 and heading into extras, and I can’t speak for other Yank fans, but when the Yanks come back at home, I never expect them to lose. I’m always a little surprised to some extent when they can’t close it out. And the fact that the Twins weren’t rolling over and dying in these late innings of play, was making me increasingly panicky. “Oh my God. They could take the lead. Right now. Jesus.”
- I get nervous with so much as pickoff attempts, so when Damaso Marte put 2 runners on in the top of the 11th with no outs, I lost about 17 years of my life. Once again, newly rehabilitated David Robertson gets the call to pull his team out of a mess of a situation. Every time you think you’ve seen the most unbelievable element of the game, the Yankees reset the bar at another ridiculous plateau. No runs scored with the bases loaded and zero outs.
- I didn’t even have time to process this absurdity before Tex goes yard in front of over 50,000 in attendance at the Bronx. And sweet Christ, that ball left in a hurry. Sterling didn’t even have time to build any suspense. It was, “Line drive down the left field line…and IT IS GONE!!!”
- The Twins are now overfeated against the Yanks, having lost the 9 straight to them–their 4th of the walkoff persuasion. My Mets-fan friend with an evidenced death wish spent the better part of the game either gloating at Yanks’ setbacks, or vehemently affirming that the game is fixed and the Yanks were only where they were because of the umps.
- Hey, if you can’t score 1 run with bases loaded and no outs, you got bigger fish to fry than questionable officiating. On Wednesday, when CC clearly whiffed Orlando Cabrera, but he was charged with a walk, and 2 runs scored when the inning shouldn’t have even been going on. Blame the umps as much as you want, but it all evens out in the end.
On Sunday, the Yanks and Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16) will face their old friend Carl Pavano (14-12, 5.10), who has won nearly twice as many starts in 1 year with the Indians/Twins as he did in 3 years with the Yankees. It’d be nice to thank him for his years of service with a sweep.
Congratulations, Yankees, on reminding the world who they’re up against. And thank you, ghosts, for springing for postseason tickets.
In the words of Frank, “If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, Newww Yorkkkk.”
Read 2009 Baseball Throwdown coverage for Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Anaheim Angels.