Imagine you’re sitting at work tracking the game on your computer as you file this report or the other. You have high hopes because Phil Hughes looked so good during his last outing, and you know this is an important game — no one wants to be swept by the Oakland A’s. But things go bad quickly. You smirk at the screen as Hughes gives up a run in the first and another in the second, then implodes in the third. He only manages two outs in that frame before giving way to Cory Wade. When the inning finally ends the Yankees are down 7-1, and a sweep seems inevitable. You close your browser in disgust and snarl at your co-workers for the rest of the afternoon.
You’re still burning inside, choking on your own bile and grinding your teeth into dust as you leave work. You’re so distracted that you run smack into me as I’m tumbling out of a nearby sports bar, happy as a clam. You curse my ignorance under your breath, but then you stop dead in your tracks, doubting what you think you just heard me say: “I can’t believe they won that game!” You shout after me, begging for an explanation, and this is what I tell you…
Rich Harden was pretty much in control for the first few innings, but then things started to get away from him in the fourth. Russell Martin launched a home run to right, and even though the Yankees were still down by five runs, there was a sense that seven runs wouldn’t be enough for Oakland on this afternoon.
Derek Jeter (whose average would climb to .300 for a minute towards the end of the game) opened the fifth inning with a hard single to center, then Curtis Granderson followed with a walk. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Alex Rodríguez singled to load the bases for Robinson Canó. Was there any one of us who wasn’t thinking about a grand slam? When you’re wondering if your team can back into a game, there’s a tendency to slice large leads by imaginary grand slams, but it doesn’t usually happen that way. I don’t know whether or not that was in Canó’s mind, but he turned on an inside pitch from Harden and popped it into the right field stands. Suddenly it was 7-6 A’s, but it felt more like the Yankees were ahead than behind. A few minutes later Harden was lifted in favor of Craig Breslow, and the Yankees would load the bases again — this would be a recurring theme — but they wouldn’t score again that inning.
In the sixth inning, they left the A’s behind. Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch, Alex Rodríguez drew a walk, and after those two advanced on a wild pitch, Nick Swisher was walked intentionally to load the bases for Martin — who hit a grand slam.
Things looked comfortable at 10-7, but it would get more comfortable in the seventh, which looked like this: walk, walk, walk, sac fly, walk (pitching change), single, ground out, walk, walk, single, walk, line out. It was just your standard six-run, two-hit inning, and the game was out of reach. Yankees 16, A’s 7.
But wait, there’s more. In the eighth the Yankees would bat around for the fourth inning in a row. By the time Granderson came up with two outs in the inning and the bases loaded — again — I started to feel sorry for the A’s, and certainly for pitcher Bruce Billings. I wasn’t wondering if Granderson would hit another grand slam, I was actually kind of expecting it. Afterall, how could the Grandy Man not hit a grand slam on Grand Slam Day?
So when he launched a fly ball high and deep to right center field, I wasn’t surprised. It was the team’s third grand slam of the day, something that had never been done before, and the Yankees were up 21-7. The A’s would actually bring in their closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Andruw Jones. Jones christened him by blasting his own homer to deep left.
And just in case things weren’t crazy enough, Jorge Posada was inserted to play second base in the top of the ninth. He even fielded a grounder, looked the runner back to third even though there were two outs, and took a professional crow hop before firing a throw to first baseman… Nick Swisher. Swisher somehow corralled the throw as he tumbled to the ground, and the game was over. Crazy enough for you?
So in case you missed it, in case you gave up early and your day was ruined, I’m here to tell you that everything is okay. Yankees 22, A’s 9.
A quick look at some of the damage:
- Jeter: 3 for 6, 3B, .299
- Granderson: 2 for 4, 4 runs, grand slam, 5 RBIs
- Canó: 2 for 4, grand slam, 5 RBIs
- Martin: 5 for 5, 2B, solo HR, grand slam, 6 RBIs
- Nuñez: 3 for 5
- Team: 21 hits, 13 walks, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HRs