Yankees 5 Red Sox 4: Gardner Delivers; Yankees Come Back

Last night was one hell of a game, one of the better, more exciting games all year without question. It was also the most I’ve been into a game–although I’m into all of them–in some time. Maybe it was the inopportune time to lose Internet service–which has just been restored 10 minutes ago. Maybe it was the shot at a split. I think it was in part just feeling up, and wanting to feel up, about the Yanks. Last night’s game carried me with ease through an all-nighter reading and writing.

Trailing 4-2, the Yankees scored two on a two-run triple from Cano to tie it. Then, in the tenth, much-maligned rookie Brett Gardner–who had a very good game–came through with the game-winning RBI through the box and off Cora at short to score Cano, who also had a terrific game, and set off the celebration both at Yankee Stadium and in The Heartland. I was jumping around the bedroom at numerous points–Cano’s triple and Gardner’s RBI single the two biggest moments. All through Gardner’s tenth-inning at-bat against Boston’s tough closer Jonathan Papelbon, I kept repeating to myself, “Get a hit and silence those critics. Get a hit and prove your doubters wrong.” What really impressed me in that last at-bat was not only the fact that Gardner had another long at-bat, eight pitches off Papelbon and nine in an earlier at-bat, but that Papelbon, for all his gas and ability, couldn’t throw the heater past Gardner. He threw 97 and high, but Gardner fouled it off. He threw 96 and down the pike, and Gardner fouled it off. Gardner got a piece of everything, making me think that Papelbon would go with the split-finger since Cano was at second and not third, so a passed ball wouldn’t lose the game. But Papelbon stuck with the heater and Gardner made him pay, making a winner out of Mariano, who pitched two good innings needing only 16 pitches.

It was really a terrific game, right from the beginning. Molina easily nailed Youkilis on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out DP on a 3-2 slider looking to Casey in the top of the second. Leading off the bottom of the second, A-Rod waited back on Wakefield’s knuckle ball and pasted a line-drive homer to left for his 18th homer of the year but, more importantly and historically, his 536th career homer to tie the legendary Mickey Mantle for 13th on the all-time home run list, 1-0 Yankees. Tremendous accomplishment for A-Rod, onward and upward from here. How fitting that he tied Mantle at Yankee Stadium, in its last year, against Boston? Joba buzzed through the first four innings, embarrassing Julio Lugo with a K looking on three straight pitches, with the bat never leaving Lugo’s shoulder–good morning good afternoon and good night. He was eating up Boston, throwing peas at the knees and hitting 100 mph against Pedroia in the fourth.

Yet Boston worked over Joba in the fifth to take the lead. Youkilis slapped a single to right on a fastball up, Casey singled to right to send Youkilis to third, and a wild pitch tied the game with Youkilis making a hard but clean slide into home with Joba trying in vain to block the plate. During Joba’s walk to Crisp, I hate to say it but Morgan made a good point. When the count was 1-1, Morgan said that Joba probably tipped the fastball that came because he nodded to start, then shook off the location, probably indicating fastball. Morgan then said that pitchers often just go to the set when they get the location they want to prevent that, something Joba ought to remember. A good point from Morgan. After fanning Lugo on a slider, Joba K’d caddie catcher Cash on a slider looking. It was during these at-bats and the following one against Ellsbury that home plate ump Laz Diaz’s calls got crappy. Joba got squeezed on an 0-1 fastball, 97 mph and right at the knees that was called a ball. The 2-1 change-up looked high, but was called a strike, possibly a make-up call. This inconsistency came up later in a heated argument between Diaz and Girardi. Ellsbury walked on 3-2 to load the bases, and Pedroia got jammed on a 98 mph fastball but blooped a crap hit to right, 3-1 Red Sox.

In the sixth, things got a bit dicey. Joba threw behind Youkilis, the same player over whose gigantic cranium Joba sailed two consecutive fastballs last season to prompt his ejection. This time, Youkilis gave an angry look, but nothing came of it. He walked, but I made an incidental call urging a DP ball for Joba. He got it from an unlikely source–Giambi, who nabbed a Casey hot shot and actually made a good throw to Jeter who delivered it back, leaping over Youkilis, for the 3-6-3. In the bottom of the sixth, Molina K’d looking on what was a pitch clearly low, and he wasn’t happy. Gardner then came up and got down 1-2 on a lousy strike call outside, prompting yelling from the Yanks dugout and Diaz’s ejecting Girardi, who stormed out and gave Diaz a full-throated, vein-popping, red-faced ear full. I was cheering and clapping the whole time. I’ve said that Girardi needs to do this now and then, to pick his spots but, when he gets set on an issue and is right, to plant stakes and pitch a veritable tent on it until he’s done. He did just that to Diaz, with the peaks of their caps mere inches apart. Beautiful. Gardner promptly singled to center and must have heard my cries of “Run, Seabiscuit!” He stole second and Jeter’s RBI single cut the lead to 3-2, excellent run manufacturing. I commented a couple days ago that I hoped Gardner stole a base and scored a run every game for the next couple weeks to silence his impatient detractors. He did that and much more last night. But after Jeter moved to second on Wakefield’s E1 on an errant pickoff throw to first, Jeter got doubled off second on Abreu’s liner on which Lugo made a terrific leaping catch, with Jeter in no-man’s land. It’s hard to be mad at Jeter for that for, if that sails over Lugo, Jeter would have tied the game and might have needed the head start on the hard-hit ball.

Robertson entered in the seventh and was let down by Jeter’s defense. With one out, Lugo hit a grounder up the middle that Jeter made a terrific play to get to, but whirled and threw when he probably would not have had Lugo and threw it away, giving Lugo second. Cash then doubled to left, 4-2 Sox. A-Rod led off the bottom of the seventh by slapping a knuckle ball outside for a single. Diaz made another bad call on Giambi’s 1-0 pitch, calling an obvious outside pitch a strike. He flew out to right, and lefty Lopez entered to turn Jorge to the righty side, from which he was only hitting .250, but his hit-and-run single sent A-Rod to third. Nice hitting by Jorge, taking the pitch away to right field. Lopez then threw the exact same pitch twice to start the at-bat to Cano–the first one called a ball and the second a strike. How idiotic! They were both in the exact same location. Both teams should have been mad, probably Boston more for the first pitch being called a ball, but certainly Cano had a beef since the pitch immediately prior was called outside. Yet Cano laced a triple into the right-center gap, scoring A-Rod and Jorge to tie it, with me jumping around the bedroom and cheering loudly. Jorge’s fleet-footed stride was off and he barely touched third. Melky’s sharp grounder to Pedroia with the infield in nailed Cano on a very close play at home, with Cash just tagging Cano before he touched home, a good call. Delcarmen then entered, got a gift on a curve inside to Molina called a strike for 1-2, Melky stole second on a close call that would have nailed him with a good throw, but Molina’s K made it moot. 4-4.

Nuke entered in the eighth and was outstanding, getting Drew to pop weakly to short, jamming Lowell for a fly to shallow left, and blowing heavy 98-mph gas past Youkilis; great job, Nuke. After the Yanks got nothing in the bottom of the eighth, Mariano entered in the ninth in a tie game, his Kryptonite, but survived a Casey bloop single to center and a sac bunt, Varitek’s easy 1-3 moved Casey to third, and Ramirez pinch-hit for Lugo, prompting a meeting at the mound and me to ask, Do they walk Ramirez? Before I could answer, Mariano had fanned him on three pitches looking, with Ramirez appearing equal parts fooled and indifferent to it. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yanks got nothing but it was yet another example of Diaz’s nonsense, calling the same consecutive pitches from Okajima to Jorge a ball then a strike; what a joke.

In the tenth, Mariano set the top of the order down 1-2-3 on 10 pitches. In the bottom of the tenth against Papelbon, Cano singled on an 0-2 fastball down the middle that Varitek wanted up. Melky laid down a nice sac bunt that Papelbon initially thought about throwing to second, but he never would have had Cano, taking the play at first. Betemit pinch-hit for Molina and K’d, naturally. Then Gardner came up, fouled off four pitches and worked the count to 2-2, then smacked a singled through the box that Cora deflected but couldn’t handle, scoring Cano from second to win the game, 5-4 Yankees. Eat that, doubters. Seeing A-Rod rush out and embrace and congratulate Gardner reminded me of what Rasner said a while back about A-Rod, being surprised that a superstar like him was a such a good teammate who was generous with his knowledge. Great to see him root on the kid, and a poignant moment was seeing Gardner flanked on one side by A-Rod and JD on the other, two veterans genuinely happy for the kid. I’m equally impressed by JD’s reaction. He’s not just a good teammate. He’s rooting for a kid who is filling in for him and saying publicly that Gardner will show people why the organization is so high on him. That JD has my respect, no question.

Gardner was 2-5 with a run, RBI, and stolen base. He was a real difference maker last night. A-Rod was 2-4 with 2 runs, his 50th RBI, and his milestone homer, batting .323 and the Yankees have needed every bit of it. Cano was 2-4 with 2 RBIs (37 this season), and has upped his average to .252. Jeter was 1-4 with his 37th RBI, batting .281. Jorge was 1-4, batting .280. Abreu continues to slump, going 0-4 to make it 0 for his last 15, dropping his average to .272. Giambi, Melky, and Molina were each 0-3. Joba had a rough fifth but was otherwise very good, going 6, allowing four hits, four walks, three runs earned in the fifth, and fanning five on 101 pitches/63 strikes. The walks hurt, especially in the tumultuous fifth. But he dominated the other innings. Robertson allowed two hits and a run, but Jeter was at fault for even throwing that ball. Nuke was outstanding in pitching a 1-2-3 eighth to lower his ERA to a respectable 3.69, and Mariano simply continues to be The Man, shutting the door for two big innings to even his record at 303 and lower his ERA to The Gibson 1968 line–1.12.

Thanks to everyone who posted in my absence, and I was glad to see Leo and Vanessa basically tell me to go screw and have an HDLR anyway. I’m all for bottom-up democracy, and that was so in action last night. Good show, gang, and I’m sorry I couldn’t join you. Vanessa, great call on Gardner’s walk-off hit! Great win, the Yankees stay nine back but move to five above .500 and need to win the upcoming series against Damn Tampa that starts tomorrow night. Keep battling, Yanks. Who knows, maybe last night was one to help turn the tide. I sure hope so, and hope they get many more like it.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  3. hey jason- glad to see you’re up and running again-
    that was indeed one of the most exciting games i’ve attended. i really can’t add anything to your excellent re-cap except to make a sociological note. the atmosphere at the game was very different from the previous three. just comparing the game on the 4th to this one was like night and day- and yes i’m aware that they were indeed day and night games respectively. nevertheless they were both games that seemed that they might be won by either team, but as i had mentioned before there was a lighthearted festive atmosphere on the 4th with friendly banter between the yankee fans and the surprisingly many sox fans in attendance. this was not the case on sunday. it was like a completely different place. now i have noticed this before when i have gone there three days in a row for a series- even on three wins in a row you can have vastly different moods prevailing.
    huge contingents of yankee fans there were extremely vocal not only in support of the team, but harassing even the most innocent of sox fans in the aisles and stands. to the point where
    even I was bothered by it. for example two teenage guys wearing sox gear were obviously having some fun exploring the stadium and made there way up to our aerie high above the field. they were heckled mercilessly – told they couldn’t sit in a couple of miraculously empty seats ( behind us) -told the seats were for yankee fans ONLY- it got worse from there. the kids settled in somewhere a few rows up and to the side–became defiant- i’m not sure of all the details-but at one point they were standing up literally for themselves while perhaps 20 -30 guys were jeering at them”ASSHOLES, ASSHOLES. finally security came and swept them away- mind you this was all happening in the top of the ninth-tense moments. the game was filled with Boston Sucks chants- there was none of that on the 4th.

    to be sure the game and for the most part the atmosphere was great– i think that all the raw emotions about the weekend and perhaps frustration with the team this year just boiled over on sunday night. it was quite an experience to be sure– i’ll never forget brett gardner’s brave at-bat and the explosion of excitement of the climactic conclusion. if that is my last game in Yankee Stadium, and that does seem likely, then it was a helluva way to go out.

  4. It’s not the way it looked I swear!

  5. Technorati? I’ll have the linguine thank you.

  6. Susan and Josh, thanks for the visit and kind words. Come back soon. Leo, your Technorati joke cracked me up, coming right in the middle of a late night of work. I genuinely appreciate your sense of humor.

    Mike, I’m glad you at least saw some good games and a couple wins. I’m really sorry that the last game saw that kind of boorish behavior toward the Sox fans. What a shame that this is the case among some fans on either side. Amazing how many people just like to mess with others and can’t leave people alone. Too much misanthropy out there.

    Interestingly, a kid in my lecture class is from Boston and is a Sox fan, and admitted that he used to root more against the Yanks than for the Sox, but changed after the Sox won a couple World Series. I’m glad for that, and am of the opinion that for Sox fans, because of their history generally and with the Yanks specifically, that’s not uncommon.

  7. Well the Cubs,Brewrs and A’s certantly improved over the past couple of days. It’s evident I beleive he Yankees can make it to the post season but as far as competition goes there is clubs in much better shape. Gee, whats with these pitching match-ups! I’m going to be saying that everynight from now on. Andy’s doing good but good don’t cut it with Kaz’ everyone cross there fingers in the fifth tonight for Andy.

  8. 🙂

  9. Gardner should bunt with his speed you know he can lay one down I don’t care if there’s no outs!

  10. “The turn around start today” Girardi. The second half is underway 5-blank Yanks!

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