The Yankees won a wild one on a scorching hot afternoon in the Bronx. Down 5-1 early, they rallied to tie the game, chasing Brian Bannister in the process. They took the lead in the fifth on a long solo home run, an upper deck job, by Jason Giambi. But Andy Pettitte couldn't hold it. He was Bad Andy early and Bad Andy late today. The Royals tied the game at six in the seventh inning and then Jose Guillen ripped a high fastball off Pettitte for a grand slam.
The Yanks were not done. Alex Rodriguez absolutely crushed a two-run dinger in the bottom of the inning--the ball short-hopped the retaining wall of the left field bleachers, and then Johnny Damon singled home two runs in the eighth to tie the game again, this time at ten. The Yanks still had a chance to go ahead. With two men on, Bobby Abreu hit a long line drive to left center field for the second out before Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning.
So what happens next? David DeJesus smacks the first pitch he sees from Mariano Rivera, a flat cutter that got too much of the plate, for a home run into the right center field bleachers and the air goes out of the Stadium. Silence. It reminded me of when I was at the Garden and Reggie Miller scored seven points in the last twenty seconds against the Knicks. It wasn't that upsetting but it was that quiet. And it was hotter today too.
An unshaven Rivera turned to watch the ball and flexed his right hand open several times. It was the first homer Rivera has allowed since last August, a span of 45 innings. He shook and then bowed his head, came back and retired the next three batters in order.
Joakim Soria got Jason Giambi to line out to start the ninth and then Jorge Posada slammed the first pitch he saw into the right field seats and the game was even one more time. Posada's shot was a liner, only question was if it was going to stay fair.
"Whoever loses this game, that's about as hard a loss to take right there." said David Cone on the YES broadcast.
Soira retired Robbie Cano, walked Wilson Betemit, and then gave up a full-swing, cheap-o, infield single to Melky Cabrera. Damon worked the count in his favor and then lined the 3-1 pitch on a hop to the right field wall, good for the game winner. Oh, it was Damon's sixth hit of the game, giving him a nifty 6-6, 4 RBI line. It was also the first "walk off" hit in Damon's career as a Yank.
That was exhausting, but the final score is sweet: