Best. Win. Of. The. Season
It’s games like Friday night’s 7-5 win over the Rays that make you love this baseball team. Facing a Cy Young candidate? No problem. Down by three runs with five outs to go? Big deal. Down by two runs in extra innings? No sweat.
Brian McCann put the finishing touches on arguably the best and most dramatic win of the season, sending a deep fly ball into the right-field seats in the bottom of the 12th inning to turn a 5-4 deficit into an improbable win — their first walk-off in 2015. The last time the Yankees went this deep into the season before their first walk-off win was 1996, when it came in their 103rd game on July 28.
McCann is just the third Yankee in the last 25 years to hit a walk-off homer in extra innings with the team trailing: A-Rod’s two-run blast to beat the Braves on June 28, 2006, and Jason Giambi’s epic 14th-inning game-ending grand slam against the Twins on May 17, 2002 are the others.
McCann would not have been the hero without Mark Teixeira’s game-tying three-run shot in the eighth inning off Kevin Jepsen. It was his 10th game-tying or go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later as a Yankee, the most of anyone on the team since he first put on pinstripes in 2009.
The home run was also the 20th of the season for Teixeira, and the 12th time in 13 major-league campaigns that he’s reached that mark. Only eight other players in MLB history have hit at least 20 homers in 12 (or more) of their first 13 career seasons: Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
A win is a win, no matter how you get it
So, the Yankees had zero walk-off wins in the first 79 games — and then two in the next two games. Cue the cliches … Or not.
The Yankees can thank Brad Boxberger for Saturday’s win — he fielded Ramon Flores’ bunt and bounced a throw to first base that got away and allowed Jose Pirela to score the decisive run. It was the first time the Yankees won via a game-ending error by the pitcher since Sept. 28, 1975 against the Orioles, when Rick Dempsey scampered home after a botched pickoff attempt at third base from reliever Dyar Miller.
The last time the Yankees walked off in back-to-back games was Sept. 21-22, 2012 against the Athletics. In the first game, a catcher (Russell Martin) hit a game-ending extra-inning home run for the win; in the second game, a young utility guy (Eduardo Nunez) reached base on a error to score the winning run.
Sound familiar? Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up, folks.
The Yankees were in position to complete this bizarre string of coincidences only because Dellin Betances served up a game-tying homer to Steven Souza Jr. in the top of the ninth inning. It was the first longball Betances had surrendered since August 13 last season, snapping a 54-game streak without allowing a home run which was the fourth-longest by any Yankee pitcher in the last 100 seasons.
A loss is a loss, right?
The Yankees squandered a chance for their seventh sweep of the season when they were blown out by the Rays on Sunday, 8-1. The same Rays team that entered the afternoon riding a seven-game losing streak during which it was averaging 2.6 runs per game.
The Yankees offense was so bad that they had as many hits as double plays grounded into. Believe it or not, this is actually the second time this season they’ve had an equal number of hits as DPs or worse (had more double plays than hits against Angels last week). Before this season, no Yankee team had done it in a game since 2006.
James Loney finished the series 4-for-13 and now has a .402 batting average in 27 games at the new Yankee Stadium. That’s the highest batting average by any player with at least 100 at-bats at either version of Yankee Stadium.
Okay, that’s enough about this game.