This was shaping up to be perhaps the most deflating loss of the road trip. The Yankees six-run lead had disappeared in one disastrous fifth inning. They’d come back to tie in the sixth, but they’d also stranded the bases loaded that inning. They hadn’t had a base hit in the past three innings, and they’d already burned through those reliable setup men they were missing on Monday.
“If you lose the game, yes, it could have been tough,” Jorge Posada said. “But we won.”
Curtis Granderson made his diving catch to end the ninth, then Posada came off the bench to leadoff the 10th with a fly ball that no center fielder was going to catch. B.J. Upton gave chase for a few steps, then stopped and watched.
“On a road trip when we’ve had some real disappointing losses, that’s a huge home run,” Joe Girardi said.
It’s a little hard to believe the last time Mariano Rivera pitched was that blown save in Texas. Rivera allowed the lead-off single to Carl Crawford, but Posada very nearly threw Crawford out stealing second. Instead, the big throw belonged to Greg Golson, who nailed Crawford trying to go second-to-third for the final out of the game. Alex Rodriguez lifted his glove in the air, Brett Gardner started jumping up and down and Robinson Cano ran out to right field to high-five a September call-up.
In the end, it was that kind of night. After all of the disappointment of the past four days, this was euphoria: A brilliant catch, a clutch home run, renewed perfection from the game’s greatest closer, and an unbelievable throw a guy who spent most of the year in Triple-A. On a road trip when everything had gone wrong for the Yankees, things finally went right.
Here’s Girardi’s postgame.
• The New York Post was the first to report that Mark Teixeira has been playing with a broken toe in his right foot. “It’s just pain,” Teixeira said. “I think the biggest thing for me is I haven’t been able to work out. I haven’t been able to do extra work. More defensively, moving side to side is a little tough.”
• Teixeira broke his toe on August 31 against Oakland. Doctors have told him it won’t get better until after the season. “I didn’t think we would have him the next day,” Girardi said. “He said, ‘No I’m fine. I’m ready to go.’”
• I’ll admit, I never thought Granderson had a chance to catch that ball in the ninth. Not once. Not until it was in his glove. “At the last minute it’s the only way I’ve got a chance to make a play on it, I’ve got to leave my feet,” Granderson said. “It was good to go ahead and end the inning and get out of that.”
• Rivera had perhaps the funniest take on Posada’s home run: “That’s a good shot. That’s a big shot. It was one run only. Too bad.”
• Golson said he never though Crawford would tag up on the fly ball to right, but he heard Granderson yelling, “He’s tagging! He’s tagging!” As Girardi said, you have to give a lot of credit to Rodriguez for making the great scoop and tag, but it’s ultimately the throw that made it happen. “Everybody in the dugout is pulling for the same thing,” Golson said. “Especially the past few days, we want to pick up a little bit of momentum. To be able to help out any way you can, that’s huge.”
• Boone Logan gave up the big home run in the fifth. After that inning, the bullpen went five innings, allowing only the Crawford single off Rivera. They walked one and struck out seven. Chamberlain-Wood-Robertson is really a dominant right-handed trio.
• Speaking of the pen, Kerry Wood pitched today despite pitching three of the past four days. According to Girardi’s rules, Wood shouldn’t have been available. “Kerry’s a little bit more experienced,” Girardi explained. “He’s a little bit older. He’s been through more. He’s more mature.”
• Girardi said Logan was available because he faced one hitter yesterday. “I’ll check with Booney, but I probably won’t use him tomorrow,” Girardi said. “That’s just the nature of the game.”
• Ivan Nova said he lost some focus in the fifth inning. “After the home run I started thinking, I’ve got to be more perfect,” he said. Nova had been terrific for four innings, but his night fell apart in a big way. “I thought he got caught up with the runner at second a little bit,” Girardi said. “He just lost his location a little bit. He was so good for the first four innings and he got in trouble in the fifth and he couldn’t seem to get the third out.”
• Girardi on why he didn’t bring Boone Logan to face Matt Joyce: “The choice is Nova vs. Joyce or Boone vs. (Sean) Rodriguez because they’re going to pinch hit Rodriguez. I liked what (Nova) did the first two at-bats against him and went with that. He got kind of a jam shot on a fly ball to left field that Kearns almost caught, and I decided to make the change after that.”
• Andy Pettitte’s final rehab start: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Girardi didn’t quite commit to Pettitte starting on Sunday. “That’s something we’re going to have to discuss and see how he feels on Thursday, which would be his throw day,” Girardi said.
• Some more picture from tonight are in our daily Yankees online gallery.
Associated Press photos