Early on in this game, Vicente Padilla looked like he was really being squeezed by home plate umpire Andy Fletcher. It seemed like it to me. Especially in the first inning when there was a pitch that really should have ended the inning. It didn’t, and led to a run scoring that really shouldn’t have.
But that wasn’t the really interesting part. That came in the fifth, when at that point the score was 3-2 Yankees. Padilla was called for two straight balks in a row, and while I’m no balk expert, I find it unlikely they were both legit. That aside, Ron Washington came out and argued the second one, and got himself ejected. The second balk led to the one run the Yankees did get that inning. It really was a strange inning, but as odd as that seemed, the bottom half of the frame had a stranger play.
Ian Kinsler was up after a Ramon Vazquez single. Kinsler hit a ball that was initially ruled fair, and Pudge threw to second for an easy double play, because Kinsler didn’t go anywhere. There was a discussion, and the umps conferred, and ruled it was a foul ball. Replays showed that the ball hit him around the knee. He was ruled to still be in the batter’s box, but it was a real close shave call. He might have technically been in the box, but he was definitely on his way out when it happened. Kinsler ended up walking, and he was shortly followed by a three run home run by Michael Young – something that’s been missing again for the second straight year – Young’s power stroke.
This all followed the two run home run that David Murphy had in the fourth inning – a line shot that cleared the wall in right. So at this point, we’re up 5-4. It stayed that way for awhile until the top of the 8th when the Yankees tied it up on a solo home run by Xavier Nady, making it 5-5. It was a weird feeling then – the Yankees have always been known as a team that will beat the Rangers. Yet, that feeling was tempered by the feeling we have in 2008 of the team coming back an awful lot. So I wasn’t sure what to think at that point.
Before I get to the end of the game, I wanted to say something about the pitching. Padilla’s line was OK. Not great, but I think part of that was him being squeezed. His overall line was six innings, eight hits, one walk, and four earned runs. Struck out five. His last inning was the sixth, and his last few batters he had some extra gas in the tank. Padilla seemed to be at his best when he came out. He also threw 111 pitches, which in 100 degree heat, couldn’t have been any fun. So Padilla comes out, Jamey Wright pitches a scoreless inning, Frank Francisco pitched one inning, giving up the Nady home run. Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth, but in a non save situation.
Eddie ended up getting the win due to what happened in the bottom of the ninth. Domaso Marte (the other pickup from the Pirates on the team besides Nady) had pitched in the eighth, and didn’t allow any runs. You don’t use Rivera on the road in a tie game, so I guess Girardi decided to let him pitch the ninth, figuring they’d use Rivera in the 10th. Anyway, Milton Bradley led off as a pinch hitter; his first action in several games. He walked. What a shock. Was immediately replaced by Travis Metcalf as a pinch runner. Gerald Laird & Josh Hamilton also walked, surrounding a couple of outs made by Ian Kinsler & Michael Young. However, Marlon Byrd came up, and jacked a home run ball into Section 50 of the ballpark. This plated four guys – a walk off grand slam to take the game 9-5.
It was quite a cool shot watching Marlon get all kinds of excited. One always loves the big jumping pile of players (or the Flesh Pile as coined by Eric Nadel), but I got a kick out of watching Marlon Byrd high fiving people in the stands, almost knocking down Jim Knox in the process. Really laughed when Marlon stood there doing the bird wave to the fans in the stands. Loved that moment a lot.
Interesting that all nine of our runs came on three home runs. A two run shot (Murphy), a three run shot (Young), and a grand slam (Byrd). As for the Yankees? Screw ‘em. They can lose, and miss the playoffs. Given that the new Steinbrenner running the shots seems to have inherited his dad’s penchant for foaming at the mouth, it ought to be interesting if/when the Yankees don’t make the playoffs. Will LOVE that.
One thing I totally forgot about when writing this article was that we FINALLY got to give games over .500 for the first time all season with this win. It also broke a ten game losing streak against the Yankees in Arlington.
And oh yes, SUCK IT, YANKEES!