Emotional Night Ends Right
From the pregame ceremonies to the pie, last night was an emotional rollercoaster for everyone who watched. It was a Drama Club victory, and a game that will no-doubt be a Yankee Classic. I’m just so happy that the Yankees came out on top. It was a game they had to win.
Before the game, the lives of Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner where remembered. The crowd was silent, giving the two iconic men all their respect. Mariano Rivera placed two roses on top of home plate, one for Bob and one for the Boss.
Later on in the ceremony, Derek Jeter made a short-but-sweet speech honoring Bob and George. He requested a moment of silence, and silenced the Stadium went.
I’m sure the Yankees could have spent hours talking about Steinbrenner and Sheppard, but there was a baseball game to play. As a tribute to Bob Sheppard, the public address announcer did not announce. There were no player intros. The crowd seemed confused at the beginning of the game, not knowing whether to behave as if they were at a memorial, or a ballgame.
CC Sabathia struggled last night. He lacked command, and had to grind out each inning. By the 3rd, it was 2-0 Rays. The Yankees got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd. Nick Swisher’s RBI single scored Brett Gardner. That made it 2-1.
Sabathia got into a serious jam in the 5th, having loaded the bases with none out. Sabathia managed to minimize the damage by getting Evan Longoria to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. He allowed just 1 run that inning, but the Rays still had the lead at 3-1.
The Yankees still trailed 3-1 in the 6th inning. After 2 quick outs, I didn’t expect any runs that inning. But Robinson Cano had other ideas. Robbie hit a 2-out solo home run to get the Yankees back into the game. It was the first time all night the crowd really started cheering.
After Cano, Jorge Posada took his turn at bat. He got ahead in the count 3-0. Joe Girardi made a bold move, and gave Jorge the green light. And it paid off. Jorge hit an absolute bomb for a solo home run, back to back with Robbie. More importantly, the game was tied at 3. The Yankees were fighting. I knew there was no way they were going to lose this game.
CC Sabathia got into another bases loaded none out jam in the 7th, and gave the Rays right back a run on a Ben Zobrist ground out. Although he was able to once again minimize the damage, I feared that it would be a momentum killer for the Yankees. The Rays led 4-3.
David Robertson relieved CC in the 8th, and I cringed when I saw it was he who Girardi put in. To my surprise, Robertson looked like he did last year. He was superb. Robertson threw a 1-2-3 inning, and struckout all three Rays batters.
In the bottom of the 8th, Nick Swisher showed that the Yankees weren’t ever going to give up. The Boss loved to win, and he would do anything to win. Swisher embraced this philosophy. Swish belted a ball into the 2nd deck, for yet another game-tying home run. After crossing the plate, Swisher kissed the George Steinbrenner patch on his uniform.
With a tie game, the Yanks handed the ball to the Great Mariano for the 9th. He allowed a cheap leadoff single to BJ Upton, but quickly erased it. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen it: Mariano picked off Upton at first base. He was out by a mile. Upton was infuriated, and began spewing expletives all over the place. Leave it to Upton to have no class. He’s the polar opposite of the New York Yankees.
Mariano got out of the 9th with no problem. The only question now was: Who wants pie?
Curtis Granderson had a great at-bat and got on base with a leadoff single through the hole on the right side of the infield. Ramiro Pena laid down a perfect sac bunt, moving the GrandyMan to 2nd base with 1 out. Brett Gardner’s at-bat was even more suspensful. He quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, but that didn’t worry him. Brett was cool, calm, and collected 3 balls making the count full. After what seemed to be an eternity, Gardner drew a walk. That brought up Jeter.
The captain was extremely fond of both Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner, so it seemed fitting for him to get the walkoff. Jeter made a valient effort, but could not get the job done. He struckout for the 2nd out, and left it up to Nick Swisher.
I would have loved to see Jeter win the game, but if he couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t want anybody up at the plate but Nick Swisher. He always puts up a great at-bat, and has been so clutch for the Yankees this season.
Nick Swisher delivered once again. He ripped a single into right field, and Granderson was safe at the play at the plate. The team had to wait until they knew for sure Granderson was safe before charging out of the dugout. Then, the customary walkoff chaos began.
And then, like he had done 19 times before, A.J. Burnett emerged stealthily from the dugout, and pied Nick Swisher.
This was a game that the Yankees absolutely had to win. They have been through so much this past week. It’s victories like this that bring the team closer. All the Yankees are the heroes for this 5-4 thrilling victory, but #1 is Nick Swisher.
The Yankees now have a 3 game lead over the pesky Rays. The Red Sox lost once again and are 6.5 games back. Things are looking mighty fine for the Yankees right now. But as George would have wanted, the Yankees have to take things 1 day at a time. There is still a lot of baseball left to play.
Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner, I hope this victory tastes as good to you as it did for the Yankees (and Swisher). May you rest in peace ♥