And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you do not leave a baseball game early. You’ll have to bear with me through this recap, though, because I find myself unable to remember much about the first half of the game, and it’s tough to type with your jaw on the floor.
First of all, congratulations again to Alex and Emily, who got married during the early innings of today’s 8-6 Yankee win. I’m sure they didn’t need this win to make the day memorable, but you still have to appreciate Alex Rodriguez’s thoughtful wedding gift.
The Yankees looked a bit listless throughout much of the game, unable to get much going against the awesomely named Fausto Carmona, who pitched much better than anyone coming in with an ERA over 12 has any right to. They eked out a run in the 3rd, when Abreu singled Damon home, and another in the 6th, on a Giambi homer, but that was it for the offense.
Meanwhile, Darrell Rasner was impressive through three innings, but ran into trouble soon after, when Dave Dellucci homered, and a quick single, a four-pitch walk, and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out. Joe Torre, normally so impassive in the dugout, looked like gerbils were gnawing at his intestines. Rasner came up with a pop up (Blake) and a strikeout (Peralta) to wriggle free, but was apparently on a short leash thereafter; Torre lifted him when he allowed a single in the fifth, though it was still 1-1.
After leaving the bases loaded yet again in the sixth, thanks to stellar work from Brian Bruney, the Indians finally got their big blow in the seventh, off of the usually reliable Luis Vizcaino. A walk, a double, an RBI groundout, an intentional walk to Pronk, and a big three-run homer by catcher Victor Martinez made the score 5-2. Vizcaino recovered, but the Yanks went quietly in their next two innings, and a tough error on A-Rod allowed a runner to score on Sean Henn in ninth, leaving the Yanks staring at a four-run deficit.
Cleveland closer Joe Borowski came in to begin the ninth, and Robinson Cano promptly popped out, followed by a weak Melky Cabrera grounder. Now, I don’t think I’m unduly pessimistic when it comes to baseball, but I absolutely thought this game was over. Josh Phelps homered, and I still thought it was over. With two strikes, Jorge Posada singled—nearly decapitating Borowski in the process—and I figured, hey, good to see them going down fighting. But then Posada took second on defensive indifference, Johnny Damon—again with two strikes—worked a ballsy walk, and Derek Jeter came up as the tying run. At this point, though I am not proud to admit it, I sat down on the floor and began talking to my dog.
This is the kind of situational hitting Jeter has always excelled at, and he knocked a 1-0 pitch into left field, plating Posada. The score was 6-4, and the game’s momentum had completely shifted. Bobby Abreu, again with two strikes, did much the same thing, and Damon came home to make it 6-5. That brought up, of course and to no one’s surprise, Alex Rodriguez. “They have to walk him,” I said to my dog, and, in fact, Borowski’s first pitch made a desperate attempt to escape; it got by Martinez, allowing the runners to move up. That turned out not to matter, though, because the next pitch was up over the plate. What happened next was exactly what every single fan watching the game had been simultaneously, vividly imagining.
Rodriguez knew it was gone the second he hit it—straight to center—and he couldn’t seem to believe it himself, grinning and very nearly skipping all the way around the bases. Paul O’Neill, in the booth, just started laughing. The Yankee dugout gleefully rushed out to meet him. That’s A-Rod’s 10th home run of the year, in 14 games, but I personally ran out of superlatives for his hitting last night, so you’re on your own there.
With this sweep of the Indians—who are playing below their potential for the third straight year—the Yanks head into Boston one game out of first here in the early going. Ninth inning, Fenway Park, Papelbon versus A-Rod? Should be fun.