The First City just swept through the Second City in the weekend series at Yankee Stadium. The White Sox haven’t really had a great year as it is, but they have a few things going for them. Their team captain Konerko is retiring after this year, and prior to the game, it was Yankees’ team captain to present the former 1st baseman with a 1st base bag signed by the Yankees in honor of one retiring captain to another. Their best hitter (and current 1st baseman) Abreu is still pretty menacing and pretty much driving the Chicago offense. And their ace Sale is pretty stellar.
And had the Yankees not cracked Sale today, it would have been a decent win for the White Sox in what was essentially a pitching duel. Well, let’s be honest, the crack in Sale’s armor today wasn’t Sale but the defense behind him. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
For the Yankees, they sent up Chris Capuano, who easily pitched one of the better games since becoming a Yankee and still was unable to earn his first Yankee win. Over 6 innings, Capuano threw 97 pitches, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs (on 2 home runs), striking out 5 Chicago batters. I imagine it was rather disheartening to have the lead-off batter in the 1st inning hit a 2nd pitch solo home run into the left field seats; and it interrupted the Bleacher Creatures’ Roll Call. In Capuano’s last inning, with a runner on base with a single and 2 outs, a batter smacks a long 2-run home run to put the White Sox up 3-0 as Capuano exits the game in the middle of the 6th inning.
And that’s when the White Sox got sloppy. Prado ended up at 2nd on a fielding error (the outfielder dropped the ball instead of catching what should have been an easy fly ball out) and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s double. Beltran and Cervelli each walked to load the bases, with 2 outs on the board. Zelous Wheeler is hit by a pitch and it literally walks in Teixeira. And then just for good measure, Ichiro Suzuki singled home Beltran and Cervelli. And it was suddenly 4-3 Yankees, with Capuano on the hook for the win, and White Sox Sale not earning a single of those 4 runs the Yankees scored that inning.
Rogers and Hill split the 7th inning, and Adam Warren pitched a flawless 10-pitch 8th to keep the score firmly in the Yankees’ favor. But on the 1st pitch of David Robertson’s 9th inning, the batter smacked a solo home run to tie up the game and blow the save for Robertson. It was his only flaw of the inning, quickly getting those other 3 outs to end the inning and turn the game back to the Yankees.
But they couldn’t come up with offense in the bottom of the 9th and sent the game into extra innings. David Huff, despite giving up 2 hits, still managed to come out clean in the 10th inning, and the entirety of Yankee Stadium held its breath, hoping for someone (anyone, really) to make something happen. However, it looked bleak, as the first two batters quickly struck out. Beltran snapped the dark clouds with a double, and the White Sox opted to intentionally walk Headley (which I think everyone sees as quite a compliment to the Yankees’ 3rd baseman). And Brian McCann comes into the game as a pinch hitter for Cervelli, working up to a 3-2 count with 2 outs and 2 runners on base; the 7th pitch of the at-bat, an 86 mph change-up, looks good to McCann, and he smacks it right down the right field line and into the seats by the foul pole for a 3-run walk-off home run.
Final score: 7 – 4 Yankees
Honestly, the only runs the Yankees actually earned was that 10th inning McCann gem, which is why it’s a weird way to win. Don’t get me wrong because I’ll take a win however it comes. And it certainly feels like the White Sox gave this game up with their sloppy 6th inning, so it’s not like I feel bad for them. I guess it’s the term “unearned” that gets to me. Wins are accomplishments, and I don’t like awards or recognitions or wins that are “unearned”, like how they give participation trophies at schools or the whole concept of “no competition so that no one’s feelings get hurt”. It’s all tied up in the same place for me. Competition is good, winning is good, and even losing (or failing) is good. If you can’t lose, then you never really win. And if you can’t ever win, you’ll never know what it means succeed or accomplish or even dream.
So, while I’ll take the win because the Yankees certainly need every win possible at this point in the season, it feels just slightly hollow to me. However, it’s not that bad because I know that they know how to compete and win properly (and even lose properly). And they’re off to play the make-up game in Kansas City tomorrow night, where for some strange reason the Royals are beating up on the AL Central. Hopefully, the Yankees can turn their 4-game win streak and this sweep into a win tomorrow and on into their road trip this week.