"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

We Know Drama (and Twitter)

So much happened in the 25-minute span from 10:30 p.m. ET to 10:55 p.m. ET, in Tuesday night’s Yankees-Rays game. Five plays, specifically, spread over seven outs. All with the specter of a fifth straight Yankees loss and 1 1/2-game deficit in the American League East. Thanks to Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada, Carl Crawford and Greg Golson, the Yankees earned a split in the first two games of this three-game set in St. Petersburg and vaulted back into first place.

First, Granderson’s incredible diving catch robbed Ben Zobrist of an extra-base hit — possibly a three-bagger or even an inside-the-park homer — to end the ninth inning, bail out David Robertson and send the game into extras. Three pitches later, Jorge Posada repositioned a Dan Wheeler fastball into the restaurant above center field to give the Yankees the 8-7 lead. Posada’s bomb sent the Yankees’ Twitter universe into upheaval as beat writers, columnists and bloggers — myself included — attempted to describe the sudden turn of events in 146 characters.

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News called the shot “ridiculous.” Our friends at RiverAveBlues guessed that Posada’s blast “probably would have hit the restaurant glass in the Bronx.” I wonder if it would have been out at Yankee Stadium I?

Bottom 10, enter Mo to close it against Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce. Crawford reaches on a single. Longoria also unloads to center. “Holy cow, that looked gone. Instead, Granderson catches Longoria’s drive at the track in dead center,” read the tweet from the Ledger’s Marc Carig. Crawford, however, made the first of his two base running gaffes here. Instead of tagging and ending up on second base, Crawford went too far, and was forced to retreat to first. He proceeded to steal second. This set up the second Crawford gaffe: Joyce hit a high fly ball to shallow right field, and if you watched closely, you could see the play developing as Golson sped to circle the ball in order to catch it in optimal position for the throw to third base. Crawford sped toward third and Golson fired what Michael Kay called a “laser” to third. Alex Rodriguez picked the throw on a short hop and tagged Crawford on the shin.

Game over. Arms raised. Fist pumps abound.

Carig later reported via Twitter that Golson didn’t think Crawford was going. Granderson was yelling from center field to alert him. Watching the whole series of events, I can only think of my father’s assessment of Rickey Henderson, and how he used to scoff at broadcasters who lauded his base running skills. Dad was, and is, of the opinion that Rickey was a great hitter, great athlete, great base stealer, but a terrible base runner. He didn’t tag when he was supposed to, he didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box, etc. Crawford’s hiccups are more of the lack of instinct. The Yankees made Crawford pay for his hubris.

It was one of the wildest finishes to what may have been the best regular season game the Yankees played since A-Rod’s walk-off home run beat the Red Sox in 15 innings last year.

* * *

Lost amid the hubbub of the last two innings was how events progressed to that point. Storylines heading into the game were as follows: 1) Four straight losses, two of them coming in disappointing extra-inning fashion, to relinquish control of first place for the first time since August 3. 2) Bullpen question marks. The Meat Tray and Chad Gaudin prominently involved. (To this end, Michael Kay recited a quote during the My9 telecast from pitching coach Dave Eiland: “Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war,” a not-so-subtle metaphor for the Yankees’ long-term thinking and plans to get the main horses for the bullpen healthy in time for the playoffs. Those horses will likely not include the Meat Tray or Gaudin. Back to the recap.) 3) Swisher and Gardner out of the lineup. 4) Tex with a broken pinky toe on his right foot. 5) Perhaps most flagrant, manager Joe Girardi says he’s gunning for the division but acting like he’s gunning to open the playoffs in Minnesota to face Carl Pavano’s mustache.

To add even more reasons to drive fans into a questioning frenzy, Girardi trotted out a lineup that was essentially 5 1/2 deep to support Ivan Nova, who was opposing Matt Garza, ye of the no-hitter.

The way both offenses started the game, though, combining to strand seven runners in the first two innings (four in scoring position), it was only a matter of time before the dam broke and the numbers got crooked in a hurry.

For the Yankees, that time was the third inning, when they exploded for four runs, the rally capped by a frozen rope of a home run by Robinson Canóo. In the fifth, an A-Rod home run and another tack-on run had many Yankee fans feeling comfortable with a 6-0 lead.

That was, until Nova lost the strike zone and coughed up the lead in the fifth. Willy Aybar’s pinch-hit home run — off a good 1-2 pitch by Boone Logan that was just golfed into the seats — cemented the 7-run comeback. The Yankees got the tying run right away, and then both bullpens took over. Before the Posada home run, three Rays relievers combined to retire 11 consecutive Yankees.

The Yankees’ relief arms were equally good. Logan, to his credit, retired four in a row after the Aybar home run and Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and Robertson combined to allow just one base runner. Until he arrived for the ninth, Robertson had warmed up on three separate occasions.

The Yankees needed this win badly. Any shot of confidence will help, the way they’ve literally limped through the last week and a half. And if these two teams meet in the ALCS, we can only hope, as Ian O’Connor tweeted, that it goes seven games and each one resembles the first two games of this series.


1 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:04 am

CORRECTION: I know I messed up. Granderson made his catch off Ben Zobrist. It's in the process of being corrected. Sorry for the miscue.

2 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:11 am

I still can't get past the idea that there had to be a way to end up with a better option then Mitre in a "blink and you lose" position.

And I'm crazy enough that I'm not a fan of planning for the playoffs until the Red Sox are dead and buried.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:29 am

[1] I was coming in to yell at you. We don't stand for typos of any sort here at the Banter

4 The Hawk   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:44 am

I enjoyed this recap. It had a bounce to it.

5 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:57 am


if you watched closely, you could see the play developing as Golson sped to circle the ball in order to catch it in optimal position for the throw to third base.

Well, NO.

If you watch the play, Golson actual catches the ball FLAT FOOTED and has to crow hop to get momentum on the throw to 3rd.

GREAT throw, LOUSY technique; the actual "optimal position" is to be slightly deeper than the ball, so that you can be moving towards the infield at the moment of the catch.


6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 15, 2010 1:55 am

I'm sorry, Will, but that wasn't even the best regular season game the Yankees played this series, though if you change "game" to "win" I think you're closer to the truth. Monday's game was an unbelievably great game until Girardi turned to Gaudin, at which point it became waiting for the Yankees to lose. Tuesday's was a terrible game (I mean, 7-7? Blech) with a great ending (for Yankee fans, at least).

Nice to finally see Golson's arm after writing about it back in February.

7 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 15, 2010 2:47 am

[5] Very true. It is amazing to watch the play again and see no circling behind and coming in for momentum on the throw as we were always taught, and yet with one motion, the leverage and whip he gets on it is ridiculous. Reminds me of the live arms we marveled at when we went down to Florida in High School and played two of the top Florida teams (and got cartoonishly crushed).

I will say this on watching the last inning again (btw, the audio and action on mlb.tv is completely off for the whole game - the service is so incomprehensibly and regularly awful; only a monopoly...) - I don't think it even crossed Crawford's mind that he could be thrown out. The ball was not that deep, and I'm pretty sure that most runners would not have chanced it, but with Crawford's speed and explosive start I don't think he even considered that taking third was anything but a layup. And it is true that it took an unlikely throw to get him.

8 Just Fair   ~  Sep 15, 2010 7:59 am

O' Connor tweets "goes seven games and each one resembles the first two games of this series."
No thanks. I'll gnaw my fingers off and scare my dog to death.

9 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 15, 2010 8:39 am

A few thoughts ...

[4] Thanks. It was fun to write. It was even more fun to follow the writers on Twitter when everything was going down.

[6] Cliff, in as a baseball sense, I agree. However, while I respect your preference for the pitchers' duel -- and I do, too -- the events of the last two innings made it a great game, in my opinion. It had a little bit of everything from an entertainment standpoint. That was my POV for the statement. Lot of different angles to be taken.

[5] [7] ... Golson got himself square to make a throw. The reason he threw the ball from a flat-footed position, and I credit Marc Carig of the Ledger for this, was that he didn't think Crawford was going. He actually squared himself for a return throw to SECOND, not third. When he got the trigger from Granderson, he crow-hopped and fired off that seed. Pure adrenaline. He doesn't make that throw if he's not in a good body position, and he was. Again, that was my interpretation. I respect your observation.

10 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 15, 2010 9:10 am

[9] Don't let Cliff bully you Will! Gotta have some offense to be a great game. A 0-0 tie for 10 and a half innings is not a great game. It's a great pitching performance.

11 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 15, 2010 9:17 am

[9] You may be correct about the reason G caught the ball flat footed, but I have commented on this before.

Outfielders don't have that much to do. Watching (ALL of) them in games past, I would say that 90% of the time, they do NOT set up correctly for a throw in. It makes a BIG difference... maybe a second or so, as well as usually being able to get off a more powerful throw. Having your momentum moving forward as you catch the ball makes a big difference.

There is probably tape of it somewhere, but many years ago, I saw (on TV) Yaz make the prototypical run-catch-and-throw play. Yaz was a real balls-to-the-wall player, and made this play as exaggerated as it could be.

I would say normally, an OFer would setup 3 or 4 steps behind where they catch the ball... maybe 8'-ish. On this fly ball to Yaz, the winning run was on 3rd, and it was a deepish fly ball.

Yaz must have set up 15' deeper then where the ball was coming down. He waited... waited... waited... and then took off. He came in so hard, you could see he looked a bit off catching the ball. He made the catch, and still on the dead run, uncorked a dead overhand throw with such force, that he literally ended up flipping over forwards, and landing on his back.

The guy was safe, but Carl's play was really cool to watch.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 15, 2010 9:30 am

[11] You need to get a good run at it, but there is a such a thing as overloading the gun. You don't want to sacrifice accuracy, which is just as important as the velocity. MOST of these guys probably can't put a throw right on a base while running at full speed.

13 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 15, 2010 9:39 am

Golson said to our zippy Kim Jones (can't wait for her to ask Andy P. how his groin feels), that he was wary of just catching the ball, as he had trouble the night before on a pop up under that damn baseball colored roof. That is why he was not in an aggressive throwing posture as he wanted to be sure of the catch.

For me, the most fearful, breathtaking moment yesterday was Longoria's drive to center in the tenth, that could have been a 2 run walk off HR. I thought it was gone, and he just missed it off the bat. THAT, would have been crushing.

14 rbj   ~  Sep 15, 2010 9:53 am

[13] Of course my response to her would be "you tell me."

Nice win. I think Nova should replace Mitre or Gaudin in the bullpen for the postseason. He is effective for a couple of innings. Just not a starter this year.

15 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 15, 2010 10:52 am

Glad I tuned out when I did, I can't take the stress anymore. Jorge must have had a red-ass moment when he tanked that one; The whole team should be fed up, if not fired up at all the things that led them to this point.

16 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 15, 2010 11:11 am

[13] It's a very quick shot, but they showed Mo for a second after that ball was hit. Right after contact, he hung his head, and then reluctantly turned around to the outfield to watch. He thought it was gone.

17 Raf   ~  Sep 15, 2010 12:35 pm

Not only do I worry about a GWHR, I'm just as worried about a ball off the catwalk.

18 mhoward120   ~  Sep 15, 2010 4:29 pm

How come no love for Jorge in all these comments? After all, his may well have been the key hit that turns this whole thing around. Why not toast him in an appropriate way, say by opening a bottle of Jorge Posada Cabernet Sauvignon, which is actually not at all bad?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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