The Nines

What an absolute classic last night was.  10/9/09 will go down as one of the most dramatic wins in Yankee playoff history. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth and facing a great closer in Joe Nathan, Teixeira led off with a single and A-Rod blasted a deep game-tying homer to right center to tie it.  All of us in the house called A-Rod’s homer, sending us into excited bedlam.  Then, after Robertson worked magic by escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the eleventh without allowing a run, Teixeira blasted a 2-1 laser to left out for a walk-off homer, 4-3 Yanks in a flat-out classic.  Regular reader Mike was there, bringing home two wins, the second a classic, tense victory.

What a great game.  My wife was all wound up, really tense during it all.  She is admittedly still getting used to the stomach-churning moments that playoff baseball inevitably brings.  Oddly enough, I had to be the voice of reason during last night’s game, urging calm and patience during the many tense twists and turns.  It was not easy, but was necessary.  Last night had that feeling, as I texted Mike, that the Yanks playing at home would be the difference.

Plus, and I admit that my glass-half-full approach can seem odd at times, but it unquestionably pays dividends in such moments.  Certainly this season has produced that sense, that sense, that the Yanks will find a way.  I felt that last night, too, even though Minnesota played a great game with loads of chances to win, even though Nathan, whom I consider the second-best closer in the game, was on the mound to shut things down.  I have to say that, although the eventual result of the 2001 World Series was different from what I believe this year’s ALDS will be, I couldn’t help but hark back to to 2001 last night–3-1, bottom of the ninth, working against a closer.  Who better than A-Rod to deliver such dramatics?  Who better than A-Rod to carry the team when it struggled to get, much less cash in on, opportunities?  He has been outstanding, driving in 5 runs in the two games, 3 last night with another two-out RBI single to tie the game, then the heroics in the ninth.  Brilliant, just brilliant.

The Yanks struggled off Blackburn, who stymied the Yanks for most of his stint.  They did not get their first hit until the fifth, when Cano singled to center.  Thankfully A.J. was very good and worked out of trouble well.  He also got some help from his defense, with Swish and Jeter combining to make a classic defensive play in the fourth to prevent a run, and add to Jeter’s lore.  After A.J. hit two straight batters with two outs, Tolbert singled to right on what probably would have scored Young, who was running hard.  But Swish and Jeter at some point communicated, and Swish threw behind Gomez, who rounded far off second, slipped, then got tagged out by the alter Jeter.  Great play by Jeter and Swish, keeping the game scoreless.

Burnett issued back-to-back walks in the fifth but got Kubel to ground out to second.  In the sixth, the Twins got on the board when Young walked, stole second as Gomez fanned, and scored on Harris’s triple to left center.  JD barely missed the ball, and Melky was too close to the wall, with the ball caroming off and past him and giving an extra base.  Punto’s 4-3 ended the threat, but the Yanks trailed again.

Until the bottom of the sixth, that is.  As is their wont, the Yanks got the run back right away.  Jeter hit a ground-rule double to right center with one out, JD walked, Teixeira flew out to left, and A-Rod delivered another two-out RBI single to left, tying the game right after Ron Darling referred to the opportunity as a “Reggie Jackson-type moment.”  Should A-Rod become Mr. October and November this year, it might be the story of the post-season.  Thus far, he has been.

Coke succeeded Joba with two outs and a runner on in the top of the seventh, looking good in fanning Kubel.  But the Twins scored two in the top of the eighth off Hughes and Mariano.  With two outs, Hughes walked Gomez, Harris singled him to third, and that pesky Punto singled in Gomez, 2-1 Twins.  Mariano entered and Span singled to right, 3-1 Twins.  Mariano fanned Cabrera to end the eighth, but they were in a bit of a hole.

Then came the ninth-inning heroics.  Teixeira handled a 1-1 fastball with a hard single to right, and A-Rod showed a good eye, laying off two sliders just off the plate to work the count to 3-0, then crushed a 3-1 fastball to deep right center, to the back of the Yankees’ bullpen, to tie the game.  Before his homer, we all knew in the house that he would homer.  When he did, I went absolutely bonkers.

Aceves entered and allowed more two-out trouble, with Punto walking and Span singling him to third.  But Cabrera flew out to right, ending the threat.  The Yanks blew a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth when Jorge singled, Brett the Jet ran for him and easily stole second.  He then went to third when Nathan threw the ball into center on an awful pick-off throw.  Jeter got intentionally walked, but JD lined into a DP when Gardner inexplicably ran, not seeing the play.  Awful base running.

Things got worse in the top of the eleventh when Marte entered for the lefties Mauer and Kubel, and they both singled.  I could have accepted one of the two getting a hit, but Marte’s failing to retire either of them was painful.  Robertson entered and Cuddyer singled off him to center, but Mauer was held at third.  Trouble, real trouble.  But Robertson got Young to line out hard to Teixeira; nice play by the Gold Glove Teixeira, one down.  Teixeira then made a terrific play to force Mauer at home, two down.  After Robertson got Harris to fly out to center to escape, it was apparent the Yanks would win.  It was just a matter of when.  I did my best to maintain the good vibes for Robertson, insisting in texts to Frank the Sage and Mike that Robertson would hold a hard line.  That was money pitching from the kid, some of the best clutch work I’ve seen in a long time.

Teixeira cleared that up fast, homering to left to lead off the eleventh.  Mayhem erupted in our house, and I was laughing uncontrollably when Frank the Sage called during the celebration, so the first two minutes were nothing but laughter and howls of elation.  Classic and, as The Sage rightly said, what a huge difference heading to Minnesota up two instead of losing home field.  As we both also said, it is high time to be open about looking at this team and what it is capable of, more than looking at other teams and what the Yanks need to prevent.  The Yanks have others playing their game right now, getting good pitching, good defense, and clutch hitting.  They could use a little more of the latter, but it will come, I have no doubt.

I am going to jones off this one for a good long time.  Lefty on the hill tomorrow night against PaVoldemort, He Who Shall Not Be Named, to go to the ALCS.  I like their chances a lot.  Enjoy it, Yankees fans.  That is about as good as it gets.  October 9, 2009 will go down as one for the ages.

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Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 10:42 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. as i told you on the phone–craziest best thing ever– here are some pix- you can see them whether you are on facebook or not..ill post them on my website after i leave NYC

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=36856&id=1028461974&ref=mf

  2. Sitting in Sweden staying up till 5 am. I was elated that the Yanks won and had trouble sleeping after the game.
    One note though, I get worried when the Yanks don’t put away teams. How many two out walks, hit batters and singles. I am sure we will put away the Twins tonight but will be a little worried facing the Angels or Red Sox if the pitching continues to be sloppy with two outs.

  3. You witnessed a classic in person, Mike. I am still buzzing about it, and hopefully this can have a good spillover effect for the Yanks.

    Long time no see, Swedski. I think your worries are well-founded. Game 2 saw the Twins get way too many two-out opportunities. That has to end.


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