Game 71: COL vs. NYY — Bookends: Grand Slam & Walk-off Homer

This was one of those games that certainly felt like quite a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. There were 5 total home runs hit in this game, but it was the two that bookended this game that mattered the most. And fortunately for the Yankees, they were hit by Yankee batters.

The Yankees started off the offense in the 2nd inning. McCann led off the inning with a walk, Castro singled, and Gregorius walked to load the bases with no outs. And then Chase Headley stepped up to the plate. Now, Headley started the year at the bottom of the list on the roster as far as batting average and most offensive categories. But since the beginning of May, Headley has been climbing the charts, batting well over .300 and contributing like the player he usually is. And today, he hit the first Yankee grand slam of the season to start the run-scoring this afternoon. And it was beautiful — straight up the middle landing right on the net above Monument Park.

Now, neither starting pitchers got off to a great start. Both pitching barely into the 5th inning and neither throwing a memorable game. Despite a recent upswing (and being one of the best pitchers in the league for the last 6 weeks), CC Sabathia struggled his way through his 4.1 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and striking out just 3 Rockies batters.

In the 3rd, the Rockies started their offensive advance with a lead-off single. The next batter reached on Sabathia’s own throwing error that allowed the runners to advance to scoring position. A single then scored both runners, but Sabathia shutdown the next three before the Rockies could add any more to their score in that inning.

A lead-off walk in the 4th ended up at 3rd on a 1-out single before a big 3-run home run pushed the Rockies ahead of the Yankees in a single swing. After a lead-off walk and a fielder’s choice in the 5th, Sabathia had rolled his ankle for a second time in the game — the first covering home plate on that 2-RBI single in the 3rd, and the second coming down on his forward leg (his right, as he’s a lefty) awkwardly. His outing was done, and he was sent to tests and x-rays as a precaution. All tests came back negative for something terrible, but with a few days rest and care, he should be good to go for his next scheduled start (Tuesday against the Rangers).

But the change, while a good thing for Sabathia to start resting and icing his ankle early, reliever Anthony Swarzak had a less than stellar time controlling the advancing Rockies. A double scored one runner, and then a 2-run home run took care of the other one (unfortunately, adding to Sabathia’s earning runs average and his own). But Swarzak came back in the 6th and sailed through much easier, and kept the Rockies from pushing their score even higher.

And the “God Bless America” magic was back in the Bronx. Refsnyder led-off by reaching on catcher’s interference (does this seem to be happening more often this season?), and Gardner got on base with a 1-out single. Carlos Beltran’s 19th home run of the season, a beautiful 3-run homer deep to the right field bleachers, put the Yankees right back in the game. After a line drive, the Rockies went to their bullpen again and brought in a former Yankees’ reliever who promptly gave up a ground-rule double to McCann. That Yankee alum was sent to the dugout in favor of a new reliever. Castro singled to put runners on the corners, and then Didi Gregorius singled home McCann to tie up the game. Despite Headley working a walk to load up the bases, the Rockies’ reliever shut down their rally with a strikeout to Refsnyder, the same batter that started this great inning.

So with the game tied and the Warriors Three shutting down the Rockies batters in order, each doling out 2 strike outs rather efficiently, the Yankees held their breath for some miracle. The oddest part is that the game was tied and people still left Yankee Stadium. Do people still not understand one of the most famous Yogi-isms?

Their loss. In the bottom of the 9th inning, a new Rockies’ reliever on the mound and Starlin Castro stepped up to bat. He watched the first pitch, a nice cutter, a strike. But then something caught his eye, instinct took over, and Castro hit that 80 mph change-up right into the 2nd deck left field seats for a walk-off home run. (This was his first ever walk-off homer at any level of baseball.)

This is why you stay until the game is over. You just never know!

Final score: 9-8 Yankees. The Yankees and Rockies split this small series; though it we’re counting last week’s small series, the Rockies technically won 3 of the 4.

And for your daily lesson in being a baseball fan… you paid for a full game, you stay for a full game. I’ve said before that I understand if you have something come up (like an emergency or something), but that’s not the case for everyone. And it’s not like all 40,000 people drove to the game. A good portion of those people take public transportation (like the subway) as it’s New York. So it’s not like all those people are trying to beat traffic (and honestly, that’s not a great reason either, unless you’re in labor). So where are you going?

Sabathia was totally bummed he missed celebrating with his teammates because he was icing his ankle in the clubhouse. But that’s a valid reason. All those people who came for the game missed celebrating with all their fellow fans. I mean, did they leave when it looked bad before that fateful 7th inning? How much did they miss?

People, just stay and enjoy the game. You never know when someone’s going to hit a grand slam or a walk-off home run. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see both in a single game.

Go Yankees!

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