“We made one helluva comeback, then we saw something we haven’t seen all year,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I still can’t believe Sheffield hit that out.” (Star Trib)
The Yankee offense was in good form last night even if the bullpen was not. The Yanks won a wildly entertaining game by the skin of their teeth, something Yankee fans have grown accustom to this season. The New Yorkers broke the game open with five runs in the fifth and by the seventh inning stretch led 9-3. Minnesota’s center fielder Torii Hunter collided with the outfield wall trying to rob Jorge Posada of a double to start the fifth and had to leave the game on a cart. It was a scary moment, one that had me rattled watching at home. Generally, I hate any team the Yankees are playing, no matter what I think of them objectively. But even in the heat of competition, it’s difficult to dislike Hunter. As he lay on the ground I was really concerned that he seriously injured himself. Fortunately, he seems to be OK.
But Twins starter Carlos Silva was rattled and Gary Sheffield capped the scoring off when he launched a tits-high fastball into the left field seats for a three-run dinger. Alex Rodriguez would add a two-run shot in his return and the Yanks were cruising. But El Duque couldn’t get out of the seventh and for the second-consecutive game reliever Paul Quantrill gave up three straight hits. The Twins scored five in the seventh and then resident Yankee-killer Shannon Stewart (four hits) smacked a two-out triple off of Flash Gordon in the eighth to put Minnesota ahead 10-9.
However, the Yankees were not done. After Derek Jeter grounded out to start the ninth off of Joe Nathan, Gary Sheffield tied the game with his second dinger of the night (and 30th of the season). It wasn’t a terrible pitch; fastball low and away. Sheffield yanked it to the seats in left. (Which made me wonder: How many home runs has Sheffield hit to either center or right field this year? Off the top of my head, I can recall only one that he hit to right, in the second game of the season back in Japan.) Nathan has been brilliant this year but the Yanks got to him. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single–his third hit of the game–and promptly swiped second base. He scored on Hideki Matsui’s RBI single to right. The Bombers added two more runs thanks to a pinch-hit by Ruben Sierra.
Mariano Rivera put heads to bed in the bottom of the ninth, throwing ten pitches and striking out the side. As the team went through the post-game, high-figh conga-line, Rivera was uncharacteristically animated. With Sheffield and Rivera leading the way, Yankee fans could sleep comfortably knowing they would not be swept. However, the Twins have their attention. The Bombers made like Fellini and gained a half-a-game on the idle Boston Red Sox.