Nick Swisher shared a funny story tonight that I hadn’t heard before. It was about the first time he saw — not met — George Steinbrenner.
Swisher and his Ohio State teammates were in a Columbus rib joint called Damon’s Grill for a pregame meal. He saw Steinbrenner near the bathroom but didn’t have the courage to walk up and say hello.
“I was shy,” Swisher said, eliciting laughter at the mere thought of such a thing.
Swisher only met Steinbrenner a couple times after that. He is the type of personality The Boss would have loved, but in recent years they never had a chance to share in their common bond: A love for all things Buckeyes.
“There’s two things I know that Mr. Steinbrenner loved,” Joe Girardi said. “He loved his Yankees and he loved his Buckeyes. And a Buckeye got ‘em.”
That Buckeye, of course, was Swisher, who came through with the game-tying home run in the eighth and an RBI single to win it in the ninth that is pictured above (credit: AP). The fitting conclusion brought a smile to the face of a conflicted Yankee clubhouse; they started the night in a somber mood, but reveled in the thought of a fellow Ohio guy ending things.
Even Derek Jeter, the Michigan man who struck out to set up Swisher.
“The Boss didn’t like Michigan, so I figured I’d strike out,” Jeter said.
Like me, you and the 47,524 souls here tonight, Girardi thought Jeter would win it. Turned out Swisher wasn’t the worst alternative.
“I was thinking how fitting it would be if Derek got the hit on a night like this, especially with Derek paying a tribute every day to Bob Sheppard and his love and affection for Mr. Steinbrenner,” Girardi said. “Derek had about five good swings. I thought for sure Derek was going to get it done. But George’s second love was the Buckeyes.”
Here’s Swisher, who, as always, delivered in the postgame as well:
Here are a few other postgame notes —
• A note that shows that I don’t know what I’m talking about: Swisher has three walk-off hits in his career. His last came on 9/8/09 vs. Tampa and Dan Wheeler, who struck out Jeter and was removed for Lance Cormier, another righty. It was Cormier who allowed the winning hit…even though Swisher was 0 for 7 career against Cormier previously.
• CC Sabathia earned a no-decision, snapping his eight-start winning streak. He had been 8-0 with a 1.81 ERA in his last eight starts. He finished tonight: 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 B, 6 K.
• It snapped a streak of 1 ER or less in five straight starts, the longest by a Yankee since David Cone in 1999.
• The Yankees are 14-2 in CC’s last 16 home starts. He is 11-0 with a 2.14 ERA, good for the longest active home winning streak in the Majors. The streak dates back to last year’s All-Star break.
• Last CC note: He has not allowed a HR in the last 59.2 IP, the longest such stretch of his career.
• The back-to-back HR by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada tied the game in the sixth. It was the Yanks’ seventh multi-homer inning and the third time this year they went back-to-back.
• The Yankees moved three games ahead of Tampa in the AL East. They own the best record in baseball and have won nine of 10. They are also a meaty 21-11 vs. the AL East in 2010.
• Their 28 comeback wins ties Cinci for the most in baseball.
I’m in all weekend for Chad and Sam. I’ll return in the morning with links to today’s stories and an updated schedule for tomorrow’s Old-Timers’ Day festivities.