If you don’t include Maicer Izturis, the man who tried to get one out when two would have sufficed, there were three people or groups to focus on after the Yankees’ 4-3 win ended early Sunday morning, a mere five hours and 10 minutes after it started. 1. Alex Rodriguez, 2. Jerry Hairston, and 3. The bullpen and the man who managed it. Here’s a thoughts from or about all three, but in reverse order:
The bullpen —
• The entire staff pitched outside of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Chad Gaudin, who warmed up before the game finally ended at 1:08. “I think I told Derek I was starting to run out of bullets,” Joe Girardi said.”
• Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte and David Robertson combined to produced this line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. They allowed a few too many baserunners but stranded 12 of them on base.
• Girardi never hesitated. He managed the pen aggressively, and it worked. “I knew I had Gaudin for 75 pitches. You’re thinking that’s four or five innings. In your mind you can’t necessarily say I think this game is going to go 19 innings.”
• Rivera pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit ball before leaving after 10. It was his first two-plus inning outing since Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Could he have pitched more? “No, it’s not that time yet.”
Jerry Hairston —
• The Boss would’ve glowed to hear Jerry Hairston praise the new ballpark. He credited the facilities for allowing him to stay warm and loose, and giving him a chance to come as a pinch hitter five hours after the game started.
• Of course, Hairston, in his first postseason at-bat, singled to center and later scored the winning run.
• Afterward, an elated but emotional Hairston said the moment was for his grandfather, Sammy Hairston, a former Negro Leaguer who played just one year in the majors. The younger Hairston became the first third-generation African-American to play in the majors. His brother Scott and uncle Johnny also play, or played, in the bigs. But of the five Hairstons, on his father had ever had an at-bat in the playoffs, and none had a hit until Hairston singled. Here’s Hairston audio:
• I asked Burnett how he chose Hairston for the pie: “To just sit that long and to come in and get that hit,” Burnett said. “You know, I had to debate it. I asked everyone on the way down and they all said J. Hair, so that’s who I went with.”
Alex Rodriguez —
• To be honest, for all his remarkable numbers, A-Rod has never inspired legend quite like a Williams or Ruth, a Bonds or a Mantle. Yet through five postseason games, he now has three home runs that have either tied or put the Yankees ahead. One off Joe Nathan and another off Brian Fuentes, two pretty darn good closers, too.
• His story of exorcising October demons has almost become old hat. Four times he has been asked the same questions and four times he has continued to repeat what he said in St. Pete. “I know you guys are probably looking for something profound. I’m just in a good place. I’m seeing the ball and I’m hitting it. That’s about it.” Rodriguez now has an RBI in each of the first five postseason games, setting a new Yankee record. Here’s audio from Rodriguez:
• Burnett said he, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain were in the clubhouse watching the 11th inning unfold. People would never believe the scene they made after Rodriguez hit the tying homer. “We were like little kids,” Burnett said, “jumping around and hugging.”
• In the dugout, Mark Teixeira couldn’t fathom that Rodriguez had done it. Again. “I just kept yelling, ‘He did it again! He did it again!” Teixeira said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
A few other notes —
• This was the Yankees’ 17th walkoff win this year and second in the playoffs.
• They committed three errors after four flawless games to start the postseason. The Angels two errors gave them five for the series.
• Here’s Mike Scioscia on Izturis’ error: “I think he was trying to make a little too much of that play. You’re not going to turn two. If we get an out on any base we’re in good shape.” With a short postgame session, Scioscia was not asked for his opinion on second-base ump Jerry Layne not giving the Angels a “neighborhood” call in the 10th.
• Chone Figgins snapped an 0-for-19 playoff skid with the go-ahead single in the 11th.
• Bobby Abreu, Vlad Guerrero and Kendry Morales are 3 for 28 in the series.
• The Yankees canceled their workout at Angel Stadium. The Angels will workout in the afternoon.
• Thanks to Rick Carpiniello for helping gather some postgame thoughts.