Neither of today’s storied starters earned a decision, mainly because the game wasn’t decided until the very last inning. But in between starter Andy Pettitte’s first pitch and the victory celebration was some really fun baseball. Even the Detroit Tigers got in on the action today, much to the chagrin of the Yankees bullpen. But in the end, it all worked out for the best (meaning: the Yankees won, but if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you feel that the best outcome is always a Yankee win).
So I think everyone can agree that this Pettitte start was better than his last few starts, but still not up to his legendary caliber. And while 101 pitches over 4.1 innings and the 8 allowed hits and 3 walks isn’t spectacular, the only one run allowed certainly says a lot for him and today’s defense. That lone run came in the very 1st inning as an RBI single.
But that lead certainly didn’t last long. In the 2nd inning, it’s Alex Rodriguez who tied up the game with his first home run of the season, one that pushed him ahead of Stan Musial as the 5th most career RBIs (he ended the day with 1,952 career RBIs and counting). Later in the same inning, Eduardo Nunez pushed the Yankees ahead, scoring Lyle Overbay with a sacrifice fly. In the very next inning, it’s Rodriguez again who grabs his second RBI of the day, scoring Cano on an RBI single. And in the next inning, Alfonso Soriano earns his 2000th career hit by slicing a home run into the left field seats and putting the Yankees up 4-1.
In between that outburst of offense, the Yankees also managed some great defense — two double plays, two really amazing outfield assists (Gardner and Soriano), and so many routine plays (including Rodriguez) that showed off the fluidity and speed of the team. Pettitte was replaced in the 5th inning by Shawn Kelley. He inherited a bases-loaded situation, but promptly got two back-to-back outs, keeping the Tigers “in their cage” (sorry, needed to be said at least once during this series). Kelley went into the 6th, replaced by Logan who went through the 7th. David Robertson gave up that rare home run, as the Tigers sliced the Yankee lead in half, but was able to hand over a fairly easy game to Mariano Rivera.
But would you know it… Rivera’s outing seemed to trigger (at least in my mind) an old Yogi saying: “It’s deja vu all over again.” Two back-to-back home runs and the Tigers were roaring (sorry, it’s the last one) back with a vengeance, tying up the game, blowing Rivera’s 3rd back-to-back save. But the good news is that he kept it there — tied.
Giant bummer into the bottom of the 9th inning. Two outs recorded, the fans (those still there) are settling in for extra innings. And then it’s Brett Gardner. (Can we just call him the MVP of the weekend already? Because I am.) Gardner steps up and slams a long home run out into the right field 2nd deck seats for his first ever walk-off home run (his 5th career walk-off hit; the 4th hit was Friday, by the way). And that gives Rivera the win and the blown save. (Baseball statistics are funny things sometimes.)
A really good game, edge-of-your-seat stuff there, especially that last inning. Today was just another example of the unpredictability of baseball. And I don’t know about you, but my mind is reeling with Yogi-isms — “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”, “90% of the game is half mental”, and “it’s deja vu all over again”. You just never know. And when it goes your way, it’s one of the coolest feelings in the world. But if it doesn’t, at least you really fought hard for something. I’m certainly glad it turned out good for Yankee fans. Another win, another glimmer of hope for October, and so many new records today. Actually, that sounds like a good old Yankee game to me.