It was almost one of those night. Joba Chamberlain couldn’t find the plate in the third and ended up tossing over 40 pitches that frame. Brett Tomko couldn’t get outs, and when Joe Girardi smartly went to Mariano Rivera in the 8th, Rivera nearly gave up the game.
But in the end, it all came down to one pitch, one play and one outcome I’ve never seen before. On a 3-1 pitch against a closer sporting a 0.59 ERA and no blown saves and with Derek Jeter on second and Mark Teixeira on first, Alex Rodriguez swung and lifted a lazy pop up behind second base. Luis Castillo, a three-time Gold Glove winner, drifted back under the ball as A-Rod slammed his bat down and K-Rod pumped his fist.
Fate though would not end the game so easily. Luis Castillo simply dropped the ball. He just flat out dropped it. The ball wasn’t really in his glove. It sort of bounced off of his glove and then fell to the ground along with the Mets’ second baseman. The only way to describe this play is by watching it. It was simply stunning.
As Castillo struggled to gather himself, Mark Teixeira, the game’s unsung hero, was dashing from first base on a pop up that should have ended the game. Instead, he slid across the plate ahead of the throw. Teixeira’s dash showed why the best players just know that running hard and hustling wins games. It’s the cliche of grit, but it worked. Somehow, somewhere, the Baseball Gods smiled on the Yanks, and they won 9-8 on a night marred by bad pitching, another bad Nick Swisher play and a Red Sox victory in Philadelphia.
Outside of this insane victory, this game didn’t feature many Yankee highlights. The team scored nine runs but seven came on four home runs. Joba had nothing tonight. He couldn’t find the plate in the third, and the bullpen again had to put together 15 outs. Brett Tomko showed us why he started the season in AAA, and even Mariano faltered in a non-save situation. His season ERA in those situations is now around 5.72.
We also saw Nick Swisher misplay a tough liner. He’s had a rough few days. We saw the Yanks go 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position, and outside of the final play of the game, we saw the Yanks unable to score except via the long ball.
For now, though, it doesn’t matter. After a crushing set in Boston, the Yankees did what they had to do. The team may have taken an unorthodox route to the victory, but in the end, a W is a W is a W. Andy Pettitte will take on Fernando Nieve later this afternoon, and while I went to bed last night furious at the Yanks, tonight, I will just shake my head and accept the win. Two hands, Luis. Two hands.