Damon makes it three walk-offs in a row


Nothing compares to the emotional payoff of a walk-off win. Once that final run scores and the game is over, it feels like there’s not a worry in the world. Even after the initial emotional high wears off, there’s still a sense of joy, a knowledge that the team has registered yet another win, and in this case have guaranteed taking at least three out of four. The Yanks are rolling, and the nature of their past three wins makes it that much sweeter.

Yet by nature walk-off wins bring their fair share of tension leading up to the payoff. Today the Yankees caused their fans a great deal of frustration, blowing a number of late-inning opportunities to take the game before Johnny Damon planted one over the right field wall. Thankfully, those frustrations disappeared once the ball hit Damon’s bat, but before that there were a number of players were the cause of a collective case of agita.

A.J. Burnett held the Twins scoreless through the first six innings, but it wasn’t uneventful. It started at the beginning, when he walked two and uncorked a wild pitch in the first. Thankfully no one came around to score. It looked like Burnett settled down after that, retiring the Twins on six pitches in the second. He took 17 pitches to retire the side in order in the third, but most of that was attributable to Nick Punto’s 10-pitch at bat.

Runners reached base in each of the next three innings, but none came around to score. Then came the seventh, where things got a bit hairy. With one out A.J. allowed a single to the .222-hitting Carloz Gomez. Once he’s on base he’s a major threat with his speed, so walking Nick Punto, the number nine hitter, hurt so much more, since it put Gomez in scoring position. Things looked better after Burnett struck out Denard Span for the second out and the .179-hitting Matt Tolbert strolled to the plate. But he lined one to center, and Gomez was assured to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Thankfully, an atrocious throw by Melky didn’t cost the Yanks any further bases. A.J took care of that himself, throwing two wild pitches during Joe Mauer’s at bat, allowing the second run to score. After issuing his sixth walk of the game, A.J. left in favor of Jon Albaladejo, who ended the bases-loaded threat.

WIth the way Kevin Slowey was pitching to that point, the game seemed lost. Not only had he held the Yanks scoreless to that point, but he did it in efficient and dominating fashion, tossing just 73 pitches and striking out eight. A-Rod, though, would have none of it. He smacked the second pitch of the 7th over the right field wall to cut the lead in half. Hideki Matsui followed with a double, Swisher sacrificed him, and Melky Cabrera hit a medium fly, one that probably wouldn’t have scored Mastui if the throw wasn’t a mile off line. No matter the circumstances, the score was tied. Unfortunately, the game was in the hands of the Yanks bullpen.

Somehow, they came through. Albaladejo, despite a heads up play to erase Mike Cuddyer, still loaded the bases with one out. Who else could Girardi go to? Apparently the answer was Brett Tomko, who was aided by a great diving play by Mark Teixeira, who got the force at home and kept the Twins from capitalizing on the bases loaded situation.

The Yankees answered with their own bases loaded situation in the eighth, but like the Twins they could not make the most of it. Hideki Matsui worked a 3-0 count, but swung once, and perhaps twice, at ball four. Instead of walking to bring in the go-ahead run, he looked foolish striking out on a pitch in the right-handed batter’s box. And so the game went to the ninth, where Mariano efficiently retired the Twins.

The bottom of the ninth is an inning most fans would like to erase from their collective memories. The inning unfolded in a fashion which would leave fans to believe the Yankees were readying for yet another walk-off win. Nick Swisher worked a full count, no big sweat for him, and took ball four. With Gardner running, Melky sacrificed him to second, giving the Yanks two shots for a base hit to plate the winning run. Unfortunately, Frankie Cervelli was the first one to give it a try. Things looked promising when he hit one off of Jose Mijares’s glove. With the ball rebounding halfway back to home, the Yanks looked to have runners on first and third with one out (it was quite doubtful that Mauer could have thrown out Cervelli). But Gardner tried to be a hero and sneak in behind Mauer to score the winning run. Only Mauer caught on in time, diving across the basepath to tag Gardner in plenty of time. So instead of first and third with one out and Robinson Cano at the plate — a deep fly away from winning the game — the Yanks had a runner on first and two outs. That would not get them their third straight walk-off win.

How about that Al Aceves? The dude has been nothing but spectacular since being recalled earlier this month, providing the Yanks not only with a long man but a guy who can get three outs. One has to wonder at this point if he’s going to see regular innings out of the bullpen. Surely the Yanks can’t send him to Scranton once Bruney returns. How could they justify that when they could just as easily send down Edwar? Anyway, Aceves downed the Twins 1-2-3 in the 10th, giving the Yanks yet another shot at victory.

The rest, as they say, is history. Johnny Damon worked a full count of Jesse Crain and then pulled the next pitch to right, a no-doubt-about it shot right off the bat. The Yankees had won in storybook fashion yet again, their third-straight game with a walk-off hit. A.J Burnett, the guy who started the game with a ball to Denard Span, finished it with a pie to Damon’s face. This is a ritual I can certainly endorse.

As Mike said to me after the game, while these walk-off wins are a source of immense happiness (once they’re over, of course), it sure would be nice for the Yanks to crank out a 15-1 walloping. They’ll get a shot at that tomorrow, as Andy Pettitte takes on Glen Perkins. After facing three sweeps earlier this year, it sure would be nice for the Yanks to get one of their own. Keep the streak alive.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Damon, Melky and Arod each have more walk off HRs this season than David Ortiz has HRs.

    Oaktag at its finest.

  2. Imagine how awful it must feel to be a Twins fan, knowing how close you were to winning three games…

    Joe Mauer is really something.


    I think the pie-ing that’s been going on at the end of the games explains it all, the atmosphere this team has.

    Oh, and if clutch exists, the Yankees have it.

    • whozat says:

      If that atmosphere turned into Brett Gardner not making an idiot mistake, or into being better able to cash in runners on third base…then I might get excited about it.

      • andrew says:

        eh… I don’t know, I wouldn’t say it was Gardner’s brightest moment, but I wouldn’t say it was an idiotic mistake. Mauer is one of the most athletic catchers in the game. Most times, Gardner would be safe on that play. It was crushing, certainly, but I don’t think it was that bad.

          • JGS says:

            Agreed–if there were two outs that would be one thing, but if Gardner stays put, they would have had runners on the corners with one out and Cano and Jeter with chances to score the run. You have to be 100% sure you can make if if you are going to break for home with one out.

          • Pete says:

            He was a foot away from being safe. Gardner would have been on ESPN for 2 weeks straight had Mauer not been, well, Mauer.

        • George G says:

          Agreed. I really think Gardner saw Mauer going to first and while he’s got his wheels rolling at 100% he’s thinking “I’m going to score here while Mauer throws Cervelli out at first” Mauer, made a spectacular play to nail Gardner, but as andrew said, Gardner is safe most times on that play. Whether Mauer intentionally faked the throw or just realized the throw shouldn’t happen because he didn’t have a play, I don’t know

  3. Jake H says:

    I do think that Mauer realized that he couldn’t get the runner and he didn’t fake Gardner out. A win is a win.

    • whozat says:

      I agree…I think Gardner just made an idiot rookie move.

      When a short sac-fly from Cano will score you, AND the opponent will need to bring the infield in…AND even if Cano fails, Jeter gets a shot to win the game…there is no need at all to take that shot.

    • I do think that Mauer realized that he couldn’t get the runner and he didn’t fake Gardner out.

      Yup. I watched and rewatched the play on DVR numerous times, and again just now on ESPN BBTN.

      Mauer was absolutely locked in on getting to the ball to get Cervelli out. When he collected the ball he took two full steps towards first to make the throw; when he saw how far down the firstbase line Cervelli was and decided to eat it. Only then did he look at Gardner and realize he had rounded third without stopping and then hustle back to the plate to make the play.

      Mauer did not fake or deke Gardner into anything. He was trying to get Cervelli at first.

      Gardner made the mistake of rounding third hard and running through the stop sign, he was thinking home from the second the ball ricocheted off of Mijares. He should have stutter-stepped and watched Mauer to see if he actually would have thrown to first. You can’t commit to taking home until you see the ball leave Mauer’s hand.

      • BklynJT says:

        Yeah, it was a nice thought to think that Mauer faked the throw to first, but he just decided to eat it since he probably wouldn’t have gotten Cervelli on the throw.

        Silly as I may sound saying this, this was probably an instance where a slower catcher would of benefited us!

  4. LiveFromNY says:

    We will

    we will

    walk off!

  5. John says:

    What does “Oaktag” mean?

  6. JP says:

    The nice thing about these games, apart from winning, and apart from the emotional high of the walk off:

    All three games were well-played. Good pitching, good hitting, or at least timely, considering the strength of opposing pitching, and good fielding.

    Not saying they didn’t make mistakes, or that everyone came through, but all in all, they looked like a good baseball team.

    Which is more than can be said for just about the entire season prior to this week.

    And yes, let’s have us a 12-2 win tomorrow. Please?

  7. Mike Pop says:

    Glen Perkins owned the Yanks last year.

    Today was just an awesome game, A.J. needs to walk less, especially not Nick “I showoff on sliding for foul balls” Punto. Damon came through though, was completely awesome. Taking the game tomorrow would be awesome.

    When Teix stopped the grounder to 1st was crazy though, if that gets through, the game might be over. Was uuuggggeeee!

    You’re right though, a blowout where the Yankees come out on top would be nice, just not as exciting.

    • Glen Perkins owned the Yanks last year.

      May 30, 2008: Glen Perkins v. Mike Mussina (in Minnesota)
      Perkins 21 batters faced, 4.0 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 0 K 5 R, 5 ER. Lifted in the bottom of the 5th with a man on second and none out after giving up a tiebreaking double to ARod, 5-4 Yankees. Yankees go on to win 6-5, Perkins gets the loss.

      July 23, 2008: Glen Perkins v. Mike Mussina (in New York)
      Perkins 26 batters faced, 6.0 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 5 R, 5 ER. Replaced after finishing the 6th inning with the Yankees winning 5-0. Yankees go on to win 5-1, Perkins gets the loss.

      August 11, 2008: Glen Perkins v. Sidney Ponson (in Minnesota)
      Perkins 29 batters faced, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 R, 0 ER. Replaced after finishing the 8th inning with the Twins winning 0-3. Yankees go on to lose 0-4. Not only did Ponson start this game, but our starting catcher, first baseman, centerfielder and leftfielder were Pudge Rodriguez, Richie Sexson, Hacky McHeadfirstslide, and Justin Christian. That’s right, Justin Christian.

      I don’t know if I’d say Glen Perkins “owned us” last year. I don’t even think he rented us. He had one good game against one of our weaker lineups. In the first two matchups, we dropped 5 runs on him each time.

      • Mike Pop says:


        I only remembered the game against Ponson.

        • Which reinforces the theory about selective memory bias where you remember failures more than successes and remember exceptional performances (either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad) more than more typical performances.

          Glen Perkins giving up 5 runs, just like countless other pitchers did against the Yankees, is fairly unremarkable in retrospect, but Glen Perkins shutting down a Yankee lineup full of scrubs that we love to loathe, like Ponson, Pudge, and Sexson, that sticks in our craw because we lost and lost remarkably. And, over time, we forget the two good games even more and remember the one bad game even more.

      • jim p says:

        Well there you go. He got psyched out by facing Mussina. Those days are over!

  8. Bob Stone says:

    Johnny Damon is on a pace to hit 43 home runs. He’s only been able to hit half that number in a season whne he knocked out 24 for the Yanks in 2006 and he also hit 20 for the BoSox in 2004. Otherwise, he’s never even hit 20 home runs in a season.

    What’s going on? One of four things as I see it:

    1) He’s just on a hot streak and will cool down power-wise
    2) He’s on a serious contract drive
    3) The New Stadium’s wind tunnel effect to right field is a serious factor
    4) Perish the thought . . . but he’s on something (I really don’t think so but it crossed my mind).

    I really think it is a result of a combination of #1 and #3. I know he wants to come back to NY but I just don’t beleive that accounts for how he is playing.

    What does anybody else think accounts for this power surge and clutch hhitting?

    • Tank the Frank says:

      It’s all # 1.

      It may have something to do with his position in the batting order too. But, like you said, he did hit his career high with the Yanks in 2006, so I’m sure that short porch helps him.

      • Bob Stone says:

        I agree on #1 and think that the jusry is still out on #3. Still too small a sample size to determine if the New Stadium is a home run hitters paradise in right field.

      • Linnea says:

        #1. Anyone remember last year when he went 6 for 6 one game, and then barely hit for a month? This is one fantastic streak, but Johnny Damon is a streaky hitter. There will be a bad one too–let’s not forget this good one.

    • A.D. says:

      Mainly #1, #3 may help, but the short porch has also helped, if pitchers keep throwing down & in Damon’s swing is going to keep jacking them to RF

      • andrew says:

        Well, it was a short porch last season as well and he never did this. I usually think #2 is a large factor, but Damon seems like the kind of guy that plays hard all the time, not just when it’s time to cash in. So I’d say it’s mostly #1 until we get some more info on the stadium wind tunnel.

  9. We just call Gardner’s move an idiot rookie move because he was out. If he’s safe, we’re all calling him a hero.

    • Mike Pop says:

      Na, it was just a dumb move regardless. Just because it worked wouldn’t of made it a smart move or not.

    • Bob Stone says:

      There might have been a few of us here that said it was a bonehead move and he was just lucky even if he did score. Some of the fans here are pretty smart and objective.

    • Since he was out, he’s a dumb idiot.

      Had be been safe, he’d be a hero dumb idiot who lucked into his hero status despite his idiotic dumbness.

      • Ed says:

        What made it stupid was that he ran through a stop sign and then didn’t make sure that the ball was thrown. If the ball is thrown and he tries to make it, it’s still not a great play, but acceptable. Just my opinion anyway.

        • andrew says:

          If the ball is thrown I couldn’t imagine him getting thrown out. Mauer would’ve had to catch the ball while running backwards towards home.

          • Exactly. Once Mauer throws the ball to 1B, he then would have to not only wait for the return throw but get back into position.

            Gardner could have come to a half-stop rounding third (which is what he should have done) and wait to see if he throws. If he does, I’m confident he would have been able to make it home even accounting for the slowing down and speeding back up.

        • Chris says:

          Mauer didn’t need to throw the ball for Gardner to be safe. If he had taken one more step towards first, or paused for just a second longer before checking Gardner, then Brett would have been safe. Mauer had to make an incredible diving tag and still just barely got Gardner, so it’s easy to imagine a ton of scenarios where Mauer holds onto the ball and Gardner still scores.

  10. Mark says:

    It is great that they are winning all these dramatic games, but are all of these sac bunts needed. Three today is just giving away outs. He did it yesterday, and they need a Tex 2 out rbi single for the tie. I just hate giving away outs.

    • Tank the Frank says:

      I was going to bring this up. I really didn’t agree with bunting Matsui over after A-Rod clobbered one into the seats and Hideki hit one on a rope. You’ve got the pitcher on the ropes there and Swish had already hit a clean single off Slowey earlier.

      I also didn’t agree with leaving a tired Burnett in to face Morneau after he had already walked Mauer. I thought Mauer should have been his final batter, win or lose.

      I’d also be interested to know if Gardner made a run for it on his own or if he was given the green light. I was at the game today and couldn’t tell.

      • Whozat says:

        He blew through the stop sign. On tv, you could see on the replay.

      • BklynJT says:

        Gardner over ran the sign, it was completely his decision.

        Also, I think some of the sac bunts were players taking things into their own hands. Maybe even some bunt attempts for singles.

      • steve (different one) says:

        Swisher has struck out in something like 50% of his ABs the last 2 weeks.

        if he strikes out there, they may have lost the game.

        i guarantee Swisher’s bunt was called from the bench, and while i agree in general with the anti-bunting sentiment, i don’t think it was a bad play considering the circumstances.

        i know we all love Swisher, but here is his last 13 games:


        yeah. i’m fine with having him bunt. it helped win the game.

    • Whozat says:

      I think some are just guys bunting on their own. When you see cash or cervelli or pena do it, those make more sense because they aren’t really hitters. But melky and swish, I think they made those calls on their own.

    • BklynJT says:

      The general consensus around here is that sac bunts are stupid because they give away outs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful and maybe at the time aren’t the bests viable option. I think it has a lot to do with the pace of the game, ie. pitchers duel where runs are a premium.

      With that said, yeah 3 sac bunts is really pushing it my taste.

    • Greg G. says:

      I didn’t watch every pitch of this game, but to me, it looked like Melky was trying to bunt for a hit. Just the way he was running out of the box as he made contact.

      Didn’t see Swisher’s bunt, but with the way he’s been hitting lately, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was on his own.

      • Chris says:

        I’m pretty sure Girardi said after the game that Melky’s bunt was called from the bench. That being said, Melky was trying to bunt for a hit which is what you should do. You move the runner over, and if you get lucky you get a hit too.

  11. John says:

    Sorry to post this again…but I’ve been meaning to ask this the last few days since I’ve seen it come up on the blog alot. What does “oaktag” mean?

  12. Brendan says:

    To make this day even better, the Mariners just won a walk off against the Red Sox.

  13. Greg G. says:

    And the Sox lose in the bottom of the ninth to Seattle.

  14. Jamal G. says:

    Ah, Boston losing today just makes this weekend that much sweeter.

  15. Jamal G. says:

    John Kruk: “Michael Young was a Gold Glove short stop and he moved to third base for the betterment of the team.”

    Uh, do you not remember the whole Young-publicly-bitching-in-the-media-about-being-moved-to-the-hot-corner-thing-and-saying-he-wanted-to-be-traded thing, moron?

    • A.D. says:

      Yeah, he moved to 3rd because the Rangers forced him to, and then he threw a temper tantrum over it, when he’s not a good defensive SS.

    • Whozat says:

      Dude, that was like…a month or more ago. By dinnertime, kruk forgets that he had lunch.

    • John Kruk: “Michael Young was a Gold Glove pretty shitty short stop who won a Gold Glove because those stupid awards are more worthless than the Grammys and he moved to third base for the betterment of the team because Elvis Andrus could probably hit .230 and still be a net positive over Young with his atrocious SS defense, and because the team is locked into his horrid contract whether they like it or not and the hitmen they’ve hired to whack Young so they can get out from under the albatross of a sunk cost financial committment he represents have thus far been unsuccessful.”

      Fixed that for ya, Krukie.

  16. Mike R. - Retire 21 says:

    If Aceves wins 20 out of the pen how many Cy Young votes does he get?

  17. A.D. says:

    Oh man Longoria forced out of the lineup by a technical error

      • Evan says:

        Maddon wanted Longoria to DH and bat third today but made a mistake and listed Longoria and Zobrist as third basemen. Therefore, they lost the DH spot and Sonnanstine, the pitcher, had to hit in Longoria’s spot.

      • The Rays screwed up their lineup card. They meant to put Zobrist at 3B and Longoria at DH, but they both had 3B by their name. Since Zobrist actually played it in the top of the first, they ruled he was the 3B and the Rays had forfeited the DH, so Sonnanstine had to bat, and Longoria stayed on the bench.

        Hilarity ensued.

        Rays epic FAIL.

      • andrew says:

        They put two 3B’s on the lineup card. Zobrist and Longoria. Longoria was supposed to DH. Sonnastine had to be the #3 hitter and he hit an RBI double that blew the game open.

  18. A.D. says:

    Why do the Mets keep starting Reed at first instead of Murphey, Tatis, or Sheff?

  19. Moshe Mandel says:

    2 points.

    1) Mike Francesa one week ago: The Yankees don’t have the team to compete with the Sox this year. They aren’t even going to be close. Hmm, Mike. 1.5 games behind them, one in the loss column. Fott in mouth much.

    2) This team has excellent chemistry. I’m not saying that is the reason for the recent good play, as it was noticeable even before the winning streak, and Pete Abe has said that this is the closest group he has covered with the Yankees. I think that good chemistry can be nothing but a positive (yes, I know, whozat, chemistry does not win games).

  20. Jamal G. says:

    Joe Maddon is a douchebag, this is the second year in a row he tried to pick a fight with a player (Coco Crisp at Fenway was the other).

  21. GG says:

    one behind the sox in the loss column, and the real kicker is we might have gotten the injuries out of the way at the right time. Of course guys can go down at anytime, but I feel good that jorge already is making his trip to the DL, and hopefully Nady, Damon, Sui, and the other vets will hold up

    • We’re 7-2 in our last nine, Joba, CC, Pettitte, AJ, Tex, and Alex have been improving, and we’re still missing about 4-6 key contributors, all of whom are scheduled to be back in the next month or so.

      Like I said, Confidence Level = 10.

      • GG says:

        I don’t mind revealing that I have voted 7 every week, ONLY because it is such a tough division. While I like our roster a lot more than the sawx, I think the rays have the best roster, they should call up Price soon…They are so good. However, I think our rotation is really goin to prove itself in the next few weeks, and I do believe we can be in first pretty soon.

        • Price currently has a 4.66 ERA in AAA ball. He hasn’t looked sharp; this season could very easily turn into a washout year similar to Hughes and Kennedy’s 2008.

          Remember, Price is like our young pitchers: damn good, but still prone to the struggles of youth.

          • GG says:

            Yea, I saw those numbers, but I think that is partly b/c he is trying to add to his repitoire of pitches…While I agree he is like any young gun, prone to growing pains, I do expect him to make a huge impact in the season’s second half

    • Zack says:

      I dont know if we’ve “gotten the injuries out of the way” but i do agree that it feels good to know that we’re probably getting Nady, Bruney, and Posada back before June.

      • GG says:

        Yea, I said guys can still go down at anytime, its just good that if we all feared Jorge would be DL’ed at some point, it’s already been done. Can he land there again, of course but hopefully he wont.

  22. After today’s walk-off win, I wonder if Johnny Damon would like to take his pants off?

  23. Januz says:

    The key to the entire season will be 2 difficult stretches. First, in Late July thru August when they play 3 in Tampa, then 3 in Chicago against the White Sox, then 2 in Toronto, then a seven game home stand, with 4 against Boston and 3 against Toronto, finished up with a 7 game West Coast trip with 4 in Seattle and 3 in Oakland, then 3 in Boston. Then in September a 6 game West Coast trip to Seattle and Anaheim, followed by 3 at home against Boston.
    Those 34 games, over 1/5 of the entire schedule, will determine if they are a playoff team or not.

    • NHYankee62 says:

      If the pitching staff becomes what it’s supposed to be as one of the best rotations in the league, then it really won’t matter who they play.

      The rotation and lineup (for that matter) should be so good that the team dominates most of the time and has a chance to win almost every night.

      Kind of like the ’98 team.

      Mark it down: The Yanks win the whole damn thing this year!

      I was saying it right after the low point after they dropped to 0-5 against Boston.

      The Yankees are that damn good!

  24. rsam says:

    cervelli hs been a wonderful surprise he bring youth and enthusiasm i think we have our catcher for the future.Is doc halliday in the last year of his contract I would like for the yankees to get him next year.

  25. John says:

    What does “FAIL” mean?

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