Drama In The Bronx–Yanks Come Back Again; Jeter Ties Gehrig

It is hard to know where to begin, and hard not to become repetitious in recounting their exploits. After Joba started sluggishly, he and the bullpen shut down Tampa, not allowing a hit the rest of the game. Yet the Yanks mustered no runs off Jeff Niemann through seven, squandering numerous opportunities. Jeter supplied the drama before the eighth, getting three hits and tying Lou Gehrig with a classic Jeter inside-out single to right in the seventh. The crowd and the Yankees’ and Rays’ benches responded with a long, loud standing ovation. Tremendous moment in Jeter’s career, for the team and in the new stadium, and for us as fans, really. Watching Jeter has been a privilege.

Amazingly, what happened in the eighth matched it. A-Rod started with a single off Niemann, who was at 109 pitches after seven. I thought he would be done after seven but, given the decrepit state of the Rays bullpen, Maddon the over-manager thought differently. After the single, Maddon started the merry-go-round and brought in the lefty Cormier to face Matsui, who promptly singled A-Rod to third. Swish then grounded to Richard at first who, after checking A-Rod, threw wildly to second over Bartlett. Brilliantly, Hairston, who was pinch-running for Matsui, ran right at Bartlett who was covering the bag yet stayed within the baseline, obstructing Richard’s throw. A-Rod would have scored even on a 3-6-3, but did instead with no out recorded and Hairston taking third–huge break. The side-armer Shouse entered and fanned Cano for the first out, and Girardi pinch-hit for Gardner with Jorge, who faced Balfour–off of whom he was 3-3. Great move by Girardi, for Jorge made it 4-4 by launching a three-run homer deep to right, pumping his fist before rounding first. Jeter walked in his final at-bat, but the team had already supplied no ample drama. Phenomenal inning, just phenomenal.

With Mariano resting, wisely I know but selfishly I wanted to see him shut it down, Bruney entered and immediately issued a four-pitch walk to Longoria. Yeeeesh. Zobrist flew out to dead center, with a stiff breeze likely keeping it in the park, for the first out. After getting Burrell on an F9 shallow, Coke entered in Girardi’s attempt to match Maddon’s insipid but generous eighth-inning carousel, fanning Kapler.

Although the team struggled to muster offense for much of the game, I had the feeling that they weren’t far away from a comeback. Yet key to that was the bullpen, which exceeded my expectations. Aceves (3 IP), Albaladejo (2 IP), Bruney (2/3), and Coke (1/3) were dynamite in relief of Joba, going 6 innings of hitless, scoreless, 2 walk baseball with 4 K’s. That was about as impressive as Jeter’s hit milestone, and Jorge’s dramatic home run swing. The bullpen kept the team in the game despite the offense going but 1-12 with RISP–only Jorge got an official hit with RISP. Tremendous, yeoman’s work by the relievers.

Joba had a lousy first, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, but was otherwise good in the next two. Yet the start to his start was abysmal, sinking the Yanks in a hole that required great bullpen work just to keep the team in the game until the offense could cash in. I still don’t trust him to start a playoff game while he is pitching like this, and time is running out for him to rectify his evident problems.

Congratulations, Captain, on tying Gehrig on the Yanks’ all-time hit list. The guy has earned everything he has accomplished, and it will be a great moment when he passes Gehrig. It was thrilling to see the response from everyone, fans, players, and coaches alike, to his hit. Well deserved, Captain.

Jorge’s game-winning homer was amazing, and yet not. This team has become so adept at winning in the clutch that, impressive as it is, they have almost rendered the exceptional to be normal, though not banal. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I expected the Yanks to win once the eighth-inning rally started. I didn’t necessarily expect Jorge to homer, but I did expect him to drive the ball, to at least tie it for them to win it later. Their knack for comebacks is beyond impressive. However, by now we know the team is just never out of games. Their pitching keeps them in games even when the offense struggles. The hitters have the poise and confidence necessary to deliver when it is needed most. They boast a lineup filled with players capable of delivering in the clutch.

What the Yanks are doing, how they are playing, before our eyes on a daily basis is really worth treasuring. Their play and this run is truly exceptional. They are 40-13 since the break, sweeping the Rays and surely dashing their already scant playoff hopes. They have reduced their magic number for clinching the East to 14 games with 21 to play. Moreover, they face sharp pitching yet still find ways to win. Because of well-rounded performances from a resilient, well-rounded team, the Yanks simply refuse to lose and be counted out. Tonight was nothing if not an object lesson in this team’s character and resiliency.

Enjoy it, Yankees fans. This is as good as it has been for nearly a decade. This team is becoming special.

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Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I don’t know what anyone can say about Derek that hasn’t been said already in the last 13 years. He’s one of the few players that are universally liked, even by our biggest rival’s fans, I don’t know anyone who otherwise has said a negative word about him and his work ethic is second to none.

    I’ve watched him play for this team his entire career, and it’s been magical the whole time. It’s absolutely appropriate and fitting that a class man like Gehrig is surpassed by an equally-classy man in Derek Jeter. The day he hangs up the cleats is going to be a sad, sad day. He has defined this generation of fans, especially those too young to have seen the Yankees of the 60s and late 70s. I often wonder where the team would be without him, but it’s too surreal to think about for too long.

    Beth
    http://yankeeschick.mlblogs.com

  2. Let you what the last 3 years has been so great for me to be apart of. To get the chance to see the closing of the old classic stadium the opening of the new one, Mo’s 500 save, then Jeter doing this and there allot more.

    Congrats Jeter a true all time great.

  3. Indescribable. I’m so happy for Jeter. He truly epitomizes what it is to be a Yankee, and he is nothing if not completely deserving of this title. I’m excited for Friday’s game – I really hope he gets it done then!

  4. Well said, Beth. It’s absolutely true. I remember when he first came up and talked with a friend of mine at work, another big Yankees fan, saying “That Jeter kid looks like he’s going to be good.” What an understatement. I expected a good, long career from him earlier on, but what he has done has transcended not just most of our expectations, but the Yankees’ history. He, Mariano, Pettite, and Jorge have been true mainstays and definers for this generation. I greatly look forward to others, such as Teixeira, C.C., Cano, and others doing the same. This team has been tremendous, right alongside Jeter’s historic accomplishments.

  5. You’re right to recall Mariano’s 500th save, Nick. That was one of the greatest Yankee memories in my lifetime. All the better that he had an RBI off that asshead K-Rod. More good times to come, Nick.

    No question about Jeter, Lisa. I feel it will happen tonight for Jeter. I’m awfully glad they’re playing.


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