I was sick all weekend, but it finally cleared up late last night. I wasn’t sick in the way you might think. I didn’t have the pukes or the shits. But I had this pit in my stomach, which kept increasing in strength as the weekend went on because the Yankees couldn’t put those damn Red Sox out of their misery.
Friday’s game would have been the greatest comeback win I can remember at the new Stadium. But the Yanks, who were trailing 10-1 at one point and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, couldn’t come all the way back, despite hitting six home runs, including two each by both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Saturday’s game was a guaranteed loss the way that Jon Lester has been pitching lately. However, after falling behind 6-0, the Yanks made a little charge by hitting another two home runs, but they still ended up losing 7-3. And with each loss, the tightness in my stomach grew tighter.
Sunday, I was so sick I couldn’t even watch the game. It helped that my family and I had our normal routine of church in the morning, football in the afternoon, and a walk in the evening, capped off by an episode of Mad Men once the kids were in bed. But the game was in the back of my mind the whole day.
As soon as Mad Men ended, I switched over to the game to see Mariano Rivera, who has been very un-Mo-like in September, blow a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning by allowing two Red Sox runs on two hits and four freaking stolen bases. Honestly, it was the closest I have ever come to throwing something through my TV. And only the fact that I was gently rocking to sleep my three-week-old baby boy in my arms kept me screaming curse words at the top of my lungs. (Although I did mutter them under my breath.)
However, as bad as Rivera has been lately, I really have to thank Jonathan Papelbon who has been the tonic to my fever, not only for last night but also for so many games he has blown or struggled in this season. He’s really been a different pitcher over the last year and a half, and last night was his crowning achievement as a member of the Red Sox.
With one out, Papelbon allowed a single to Nick Swisher, a single to Teixeira, a walk to Rodriguez, and a game-tying RBI-single to AL-MVP candidate Robinson Cano. When Cano got the hit, I almost dropped my son because I thought that the single would score the winning run as well, but Robbie Thompson, who is normally a very aggressive third-base coach, decided to hold up pinch-runner Ramiro Pena at third. Unfortunately, neither Jorge Posada nor Lance Berkman could drive in the winning, and on to extras we went again.
Joba Chamberlain, who has been so inconsistent lately, pitched a perfect top of the tenth. In the bottom of the inning, the Yanks took their swings against Hideki Okajima, who has really come down to earth after being so great in his first couple of seasons with Boston in 2007. Curtis Granderson led off with a clean single to right, followed by a bunt single by Brett Gardner and an error by Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez that allowed Granderson to move to third. An intentional walk to Derek Jeter loaded the bases, and after pinch-hitter Marcus Thames grounded into a 5-2 out, the most unlikely of heroes in Juan Miranda drew a five-pitch walk to force in the winning run. And…sickness cured.
While I don’t anticipate that the Yankees will win the World Series this year, or even get past the first round, all I wanted was for them not to blow their lead against the Red Sox and make September of 2010 as ignominious as October of 2004. And even though the Red Sox are not dead yet, they will be with one more loss or one more Yankee win. And I’m hoping that the clinching Yankee win will come tonight in Toronto. However, the way that AJ Burnett has pitched lately, a Yankee win is as unlikely as a Juan Miranda walk-off bases-loaded walk. Wait a minute.