First, let’s take a moment to realize what happened tonight.
• A guy who came to spring training as an assumed-to-be-washed-up minor league free agent pitched eight shutout innings (and needed just 87 pitches to do it).
• The greatest closer of all time blew a save (then watched a series of largely unknown relievers dance out of every sort of danger).
• A kid made his major-league debut in the 12th inning of a 1-1 game and managed to pitch four scoreless (after striking out his first two batters, then promptly loading the bases, and knowing every batter was the potential game-winner).
• In quick succession a player was hit in the head by a fastball, tried to stay in the game, was replaced by a starting-pitcher-turned-pinch-runner, all while another starting pitcher came out of the other team’s bullpen to pitch in relief (oh, and a half inning later a base runner was hit by a ground ball for what was actually a key out).
• And the last out of the game was made by a backup infielder who was playing right field on a day when he started at shortstop ahead of a sure Hall of Famer (yet everything about that situation made perfect sense given the context and the events of the day).
“Honestly, yeah, (I’m glad it’s over),” Robinson Cano said. “I’m not going to lie. Especially going from Tampa, a long day in New York, Sunday night baseball. We get to Tampa 3 in the morning, get here at 2. But when you’re winning, you always have fun, even if you’re tired. We need to start winning series and put this together.”
Here’s Joe Girardi talking about a little of everything tonight.
It wasn’t so much the pitch itself, it was the reaction. Girardi said Dickerson never lost consciousness, but the way he was blinking his eyes, it looked like he was just waking up while he was lying there in the dirt. Then Girardi tossed away the broken helmet, which wasn’t a good sign, and Dickerson stood up to reveal a big knot near his eye, which was a far worse sign.
“He said he was all right,” Girardi said. “But I was listening to Geno. Geno said he had to come out. Geno made the right call and took him to the hospital. Hopefully everything is okay.”
Dickerson went for a CT Scan and the Yankees should know more tomorrow. Girardi said Dickerson was lucid on the field, knew where he was and who he was, all that good stuff. I’m telling you, this place was silent.
“You have to assume that he’s probably got a concussion,” Girardi said. “We’ll see.”
My guess is that there’s a great desire to absolutely crush Girardi for bringing in Mariano Rivera when Bartolo Colon was pitching so well. I wrote in the game post — before Girardi made his move — that I would have stuck with Colon.
It’s an easy move to second-guess.
But let’s not pretend that’s an obvious or easy choice. The choices were a starting pitcher who was positively dealing, or Mariano Rivera himself. Either decision would have been perfectly justifiable, and either decision would have looked bad had the pitcher given up a run.
“Of course there’s a thought to leave him in there,” Girardi said. “But I have Mariano Rivera. That’s why I made the move.”
Luis Ayala and Boone Logan did their jobs after Rivera gave up the tying run, but my gosh, how good was Hector Noesi? In this game? Coming into that inning? When ever base runner was the winning run? That’s an incredible way to make a Major League debut, and an amazing way to make a first impression.
“I can’t imagine that, but I thank God,” Rivera said. “Thank God the job that he did. Well deserved. He did tremendous. He made good pitches at the end and he won the game… The whole game was a tremendous game. Only my participation wasn’t good.”
• After Dickerson was hit, Girardi said the only decision was which pitcher to use as a pinch runner. It was never going to be Jorge Posada because it’s a base-running situation and there was no sense burning the last position player in that spot. Girardi chose Burnett because he figured he had the most base-running experience, then he gave Burnett one instruction: Don’t get picked off.
• Mike Gonzalez was ejected for hitting Dickerson, but he stayed on the field and watched with some obvious fear on his face. Did Girardi think it was intentional? “I don’t get into that,” he said. “It’s just a scary part of the game when a guy gets hit there.” For whatever it’s worth, I find it hard to believe Gonzalez meant to do that.
• Noesi was good for 90 pitches. “He was going to have to get it done for us,” Girardi said.
• Can’t overlook the Mark Teixeira play that saved the game in the 11th. Alex Rodriguez made a nice stop, but his throw was way off line and it was all Teixeira could do to keep it from going into the outfield. Boone Logan took it from there. Two huge outs. To be honest, my “Yankees lose” game story was 100 percent ready to go at that point (and in the bottom of every inning after it, except the 15th).
• Rodriguez on why he threw the ball in the first place: “Make a play. At that point you’ve got to go crazy, you’ve got to make plays. That’s the way we play baseball, we attack.”
• Teixeira on the play: “Really, when I dove I said, ‘Just go in my glove. Just knock it down somehow.’ Luckily, I came up with it clean and we got out of the jam.”
• Colon was one inning away from his first complete game shutout since 2006. “That’s my best game so far (this year),” he said. “I thank God for the way I’m pitching right now. I wish I continue pitching that way.”
• What was wrong with Rivera? “A lot of things happened,” he said. “I didn’t make my pitches. Balls were finding holes. Bad day at the office.”
• Dave Robertson wasn’t supposed to be available tonight, but when those two runners were on base in the bottom of the 15th, Robertson was loose in the bullpen. He said he was ready to go and he assumed he was coming into the game had that ball not hit the base runner and given Noesi a gift second out. Girardi said Robertson might not be available tomorrow because of the pitches he threw in the bullpen tonight.
• Completely forgot to mention pregame that Thursday will be two weeks since the Eric Chavez injury. He’s due to be reexamined. “I think they talked about doing some functional stuff (as part of early rehab work),” Girardi said.
• The Orioles have lost to the Yankees five times this season, three of them in extra innings.
• I’m beyond tired. Get some sleep everyone. If you stayed up for all of this one, you really did see a pretty incredible baseball game.
Associated Press photos