My mom was in town this week and one night we got to talking about taking the Amtrak train from New York to Vermont. Emily recounted a story about me getting stuck on the D.C. to Montreal line one winter during a snowstorm. What normally would have been a 5 hour trip turned into an 11 hour ordeal. I was alone on that trip but don’t remember too much about it other than it happened. Emily filled me in on the details and I was like, “Oh, yeah…”
Point is, I’ve got a decent ability to forget a certain kind of tedious misfortune. There was no good story to be culled from that trip, it was just something to survive. So holding on to the details seems like a form of whining. Sure, it sucked at the time, but then it was over, and that was that.
Last night’s game was like that trip–a trying regular season game that will fade from our memory in a few weeks and months. Watching it live, however, was no fun. The Yankees had a 1-0 lead with the bases loaded in the second inning, one man out. When Brett Gardner got ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez, 2-0, it looked as if the Yanks were going to break the game open. But he hit a fly ball to shallow center for the second out and Adam Jones completed the double play by throwing out Carlos Beltran at home.
The Yanks loaded the bases two more times yet didn’t score. Meanwhile, Hiroki Kuroda labored through the first five innings but didn’t allow a hit. Some of his pitches were tight, and he also got away with some mistakes–mostly spinning sliders up in the strike zone. The O’s broke the no-hitter in the 6th. Two well-struck balls and a pair of bloop hits gave them a 2-1 lead. They scored an insurance run in the top of the 9th and that looked to be that.
Gardner led off the bottom of the 9th with a base hit but then Zach Britton, a left hander who throws in the mid-90s, struck out Derek Jeter looking and got Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to center field. Down to their last out, the Yanks staged a rally. First, Mark Teixeira, batting from the right side, drew a walk, and Brian McCann followed by muscling a fastball into center for a single. It was one of those tough at bats we used to see from Paul O’Neill, or, later on, from Bobby Abreu. Gardner scored and now the Yanks were down, 3-2.
Beltran was next. He got ahead 2-1 and took a fastball up in the zone for ball 3. The take, and call, were significant, not just because it put Beltran in a good count, but because the home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, had been calling the high strike all night. Which is not to say the 2-1 pitch was a strike, it was high, but it was close.
Britton decided to double down and Beltran was waiting. His next pitch might have been called a strike but it too was probably out of the zone. Didn’t matter. Beltran hit it well over the left centerfield wall for a game-ending 3-run home run.
A game that could have been a blowout for the Yanks, turned into a night of frustration, then ended memorably.
Maybe it won’t fade away so quickly after all.
Final Score: Yanks 5, O’s 3.