Yankees walk off winners on error by A’s
Sometimes there are no words to describe what was just witnessed. The Yankees won 10-9 over the A’s in 14 innings in one of the most improbable and crazy games of the year.
The action started immediately. Ivan Nova looked to build on a dominant start after his return from the disabled list but never really got it together. Nova was touched up for three doubles to begin the game, and after the top of the first, the Oakland Athletics lead 2-0. It was short -lived, which would become a theme for leads in this game. For Nova, it was a step backwards. Everything he threw seemed up and his fastball had no life. Nova looks to be on the outside looking in for a potential Game Four match-up, particularly if Phil Hughes can finish strong.
The Yankees struck back, using an Ichiro Suzuki home run to jump start the offense, taking a 3-2 lead after one inning of play. Later it was Raul Ibanez joining the rising number of Yankees beginning to step up, launching his first of two home runs to hand the Yankees a 5-4 advantage.
Like last night, both teams found themselves tied after nine innings. Ichiro had a couple of hits, Nova was gone before the end of the third inning, Ibanez homered after a month-long slump and the Yankees’ bullpen, on its way back towards being reliable, was keeping the A’s offense in check. It wasn’t until Freddy Garcia‘s fourth inning of work where everything seemed to fall apart.
The A’s hit three monster long balls to left, taking a 9-5 lead and sending most of what was left of the crowd home angry or perhaps just exhausted. Uncharacteristically, the Yankees fought back once again, lead by three consecutive hits before Ibanez hit his second long ball of the game, a two-run shot to tie the near-six hour marathon at 9-9.
In the bottom of the 14th things became even weirder. With two on and one out and Alex Rodriguez at the plate, it was Melky Mesa making his Major League debut for Eric Chavez as a pinch-runner. A-Rod promptly singled up the middle seemingly ending the game.
Mesa, on his very first path around the bases, failed to touch third base on his way to score and had to return to the bag, loading the bases and keeping the game alive. Robinson Cano promptly hit a bouncer back to the pitcher, which was bobbled, but on a great play by Robbie Ross, the throw to home was successfully executed for the second out.
Eduardo Nunez, often criticized for his shoddy defense, hit a hard grounder to first, which was bobbled and then booted, allowing Nunez to reach first and the game to end with Ichiro scoring the winning run and the real hero, Ibanez , standing on deck.
- 18 pitchers were used in this game, nine on each side. Ten of the 18 pitchers were charged with runs including the final three on both sides except for Corey Wade, who pitched a scoreless inning and earned the win.
- 28 players were used on offense, 16 of them Yankees. That’s a total of 46 players who entered the game today. Who says September baseball isn’t fun?
- Derek Jeter and JJ Reddick, one of each team’s better hitters this season, combined to go 1-14. They also both had two chances to blow the game open or win the game and failed all four times.
- There were 13 extra base hits and seven of them were long balls, four of which came after the ninth inning. Raul Ibanez had two home runs and a double.
- For as questionable as the Yankees’ base running was today, the A’s matched them with defense. Alex Rodriguez was nearly picked off and argued his way into a balk early in the game and then Mesa had his blunder later on. Oakland countered with three errors, including the eventual game-ender.
- For the Yankees, it’s the second walk-off in a row and first back-to-back walk-off combination since May of 2009. New York had 15 walk-offs during that WS winning year, and have had less than that in the three years since combined.
- With the win the Yankees maintain a one game lead in the AL East since Baltimore won its second straight extra inning game in Boston. The Orioles have won 16 consecutive extra inning games this season.
- This was the sixth consecutive one run game between the Yankees and Athletics, four of which have featured walk-off hits.
- Joba Chamberlain was impressive again, having a 1-2-3 inning, featuring a high 90’s fastball and striking out two. He may solidify himself as the seven inning man come playoff time.
- They likely will not be on the playoff roster, but Derek Lowe and Corey Wade combined to throw 3.1 innings of one run ball today. New York gave Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano the day off, and they may be the only two relievers available tomorrow when Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound as the Yankees look to sweep.
- New York has been criticized for not having timely hits, not doing the little things, not winning close games, one run games, extra inning games and walk-off games, but they are doing all of those things down the stretch here as they finally appear almost completely healthy. With the team ace coming off one of his best starts in the pinstripes, the two starter healthy again, the four starter pitching well, and the lineup starting to click, things are certainly looking up. Ichiro has been hitting lefties, A-Rod has been hitting and now Ibanez had a big game. All of that will be crucial in the playoffs.
Furthermore, the Yankees not only won another close and extra inning game against a team who specializes in that sort of thing, but they beat a lefty and pitcher they had never seen before today as well. Two weeks ago the Yankees were probably the fourth or fifth choice to win the pennant in the American League, now they look every bit as tough as any other team and could challenge for home field advantage as opposed to a wildcard.
- The Yankees and Orioles have been within one game or less of each other every day since September 3rd.