“I’m getting too old for this.”
“My heart can’t handle any more of these tight games.”
“This is just getting ridiculous.”
Yep, I’d have to say I agree with all of those. I’m still not exactly sure what the hell happened last night at Yankee Stadium. There wasn’t a lot that DIDN’T happen there, actually.
The Yankees won their 5th straight postseason game, beating the Angels last night 4-3 to give them a 2-game lead as they head to Anaheim for Monday’s game.
That sounded a LOT better than it actually looked…
5 hours and 13 minutes. 5 errors. 13 innings.
13 hits for the Yankees.
The most important one off the bat of #13.
A beautiful fall night had fans scoffing at the weather reports of crazy hailstorms. Until about the 9th inning when it started coming down in sheets. I think it might have been the first game I’ve been to where I had a seat under an awning, too.
Since there was no actual crazy, compromising rain, I’m not sure what the justification is for the best 2 defensive teams in baseball logging 8 ERRORS combined in the last 2 games. I doubt they’ve erred more than 3 times in the rest of the 2nd half of the season. It was almost like watching the total inverse of that movie Angels in the Outfield. Like instead of the angels coming down and helping out the hapless baseball team, the stadium ghosts were enacting some kind of Beetlejuician havoc on the players.
AJ Burnett was staked to an early 2-0 lead with an RBI triple from Robinson Cano that scored NIck Swisher, and a solo shot from Derek Jeter in the 3rd. I was very comfortable with this lead.
A little less comfortable when Erick Aybar’s RBI single plated Maicer Izsturis to make it 2-1.
Extremely uncomfortable when AJ threw his 923rd wild pitch of the night, which allowed Aybar to score and tie the game.
And more or less catatonic when the Angels took the lead in the top of the 11th when Chone Figgins decided that would be a good time to get his first postseason hit. My initial reaction is usually to funnel my aggression towards the pitcher, but I happen to like Alfredo Aceves.
(I have never been in the presence of something that more wholly captured the feeling of “taking the air out the tires.” A once rambunctious crowd of 49,922 fell sullen after Anaheim took a 3-2 lead. “If they lose tonight, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever make it back here,” lamented my buddy. Sadder words had never been uttered.)
Bottom of the 11th, A-Rod steps up and quickly gets himself into an 0-2 hole against Brian Fuentes. Man, it was raining hard. “Even if he strikes out, no one can say he’s not clutch. He’s earned himself some leeway,” I argued.
No one–NO ONE–could believe it when, for the second time this postseason, A-Rod tied the game in a must-score inning by going yard. “HE DID IT AGAIN!! OH MY GOD, HE DID IT AGAIN!!!” The stadium was shaking down to its foundation. I just got chills thinking about it. I still can’t wrap my head around it. A-Rod is on a hell-bent mission to embarrass every naysayer who ever questioned him.
I don’t think anyone expects the Yankees to lose after something like that happens, we just assume it’s a given that they’ll hang on the coattails of this momentum and take us home with a dramatic walk-off.
But after what seemed like 49 innings later, we were still tied at 3. The natives were getting restless, the rain wasn’t letting up, and worst of all, the bullpen options were vanishing faster than free food in an office conference room.
I was also getting increasingly irritated at the Jumbotron, which kept displaying “walk-off” stats. Like they’re allegedly “walk-offs.” I keep picturing one of those weird corporate types who punctuate every presentation with a gratuitous use of air quotes.
Things were just going from bad to worse.
It was so bad that Damaso Marte was called upon. Is there anything more disheartening for a pitcher to hear as he’s trotting that looooong haul from the bullpen to the mound, than 50,000 rabid fans all collectively groan in unison? I feel like that’s a scenario that should be leveraged into “well, at least you’re not this guy…” consolation default to people who get picked last for teams or who otherwise inspire unmitigated dread.
One batter later, we’re calling on David “Houdini” Robertson, who gives up a double to John Mathis, walks Izsturis, sends most fans into an early grave, and ultimately strikes out Gary Matthews for the final out.
A-Rod pops up with bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th to end the inning. *&^@#@# jerk can’t hit worth shit when it counts.
In the top of the 13th, the evidence mounts to an overwhelming extent in support of Robertson’s sick need to put runners in scoring position before recording outs. Robertson was out for a month with an elbow injury, and I bet his physical therapist said the same thing that mine did: “try to give it some extra rehab while you’re at work.” And our boy managed to work himself out of the jam.
“I don’t know if I can take another inning of this. I don’t think our bullpen can either.”
Bottom of the 13th, and Jerry Hairston Jr. comes into the game. I had come to the conclusion sometime in the 11th or 12th, that this game was literally never going to end. I was going to spend the rest of my time on earth at Yankee Stadium watching a 3-3 game with the Angels.
My buddy and I went over the options. “They can’t pick up this game where they left off, they’re not going to go through all the hoops of bringing everyone back to the stadium for what could end up just being 1 batter. But it’s 1am. And pouring. And a playoff game. You know the umps are just thinking, ‘Goddamit, Yankees, just take them deep. Or close enough to make it look deep and we’ll turn the other way and call it gone. Deal?'”
How fitting that the game would end the way it did. A routine grounder with the routine part botched by the second baseman. (On a side note: Cano’s ninja ensemble–while topical–is clearly an overwhelming detriment to his fielding. Plus, it wasn’t even that cold out.)
Taking a page from Cano’s gameplan, Izsturis fields it and fires to second (or, that was the goal anyway) but his erratic toss enables Hairston to score from 2nd.
PIE HIM, AJ! PIE HIM!!
Unreal. Absolutely unreal. I honestly don’t know if my sensibilities can accommodate many more games like this. By the time I made it home (at 2am), I was so exhausted I couldn’t even change out of my Good Luck Uniform, and woke up this morning still cloaked in the thrill of the victory.
Thanks to the MVP of the night for taking me to my first playoff game at Greatness’s New Home, and who shared his Mohegan Sun and Audi Club passes. I couldn’t have asked for a better night. So much so that I don’t know if I can go to another playoff game there, because there’s no way it’s going to top what I saw just 10 hours ago.
Maybe it could have gone a little more smoothly, and maybe it wasn’t the prettiest performance, but what the Yankees did to pull out the win was really nothing short of haunting.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 18, 2009