Game 77: TEX vs. NYY — 6-run 9th inning

I have to confess: I almost gave up on them tonight. It certainly wasn’t looking pretty for a good portion of the game for the Yankees. The Rangers were continuing to pounce and dominate the pinstripes. And then suddenly, they just snapped and decided to pounce themselves and take back the game with fervor. I was half-ecstatic, half-in disbelief. But that’s the way of the game sometimes. You just can’t predict baseball, folks.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight, and honestly, he got quire a bit roughed up in his 6 innings — 110 pitches, 8 allowed hits, a walk, 6 runs, and 7 strikeouts. In the top of the 2nd, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and scored on a single to kick things off for the Rangers.

But it would be the 3rd inning that did the most damage. Tanaka loaded the bases with a couple of singles and a walk that all scored on a big double before any outs were recorded that inning. A fly out moved that runner to 3rd, who then scored on an easy single before Tanaka got out of the inning. A 6th inning lead-off solo home run capped off the Rangers runs against the starter. It certainly wasn’t looking pretty.

Now, the Yankees dinged into the score a bit, answering back that first run with one of their own in the bottom of the 2nd — Chase Headley’s 1-out solo home run into the right field bleachers. Despite getting a couple of walks on base a little later that inning, they left them stranded and moved onto the damage that was the 3rd inning.

After the other homer in the 6th, the Yankees did answer back in the bottom of that inning as well. McCann led-off with a walk and Castro singled, and with no outs yet, the Texas starter was out of the game. A fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, so that Headley’s sacrifice fly scored McCann for the Yankees just 2nd run of the evening.

Luis Cessa came on in relief for Tanaka in the 7th and stayed to finish the game because he did a really good job, efficient and concise and only giving up a couple of walks and a hit and a lone run in the 8th — a lead-off solo home run.

Once again, the Yankees got that run back in the bottom of that inning with Brian McCann’s 1-out solo home run to the right field seats. A couple of singles and a pitching change later, the Yankees lost their rally attempt that inning.

Despite getting out of the 9th inning with a bit of drama (a throwing error that allowed a runner to advance to 3rd), the Yankees kept hope alive with no runs allowed and enough determination to make something happen in that final inning.

Refsnyder got things started with a single, and Ellsbury walked. The Rangers went again to their bullpen to try to shut things down and send everyone home already. But then Brett Gardner singled, and combined with a bad fielding error, Refsnyder scored. One out later, Brian McCann hit his 2nd home run of the night — a 3-run blast right to his sweet spot in the right field seats to tie up the game.

The atmosphere now electric as Castro worked a walk to get on base. Yes, he is the winning run the Yankees need to pull of the formerly improbable outcome. But then Didi Gregorius smacks a big 2-run home run himself into the right field seats for a beautiful walk-off celebration. {Media link: Gregorius recapping the game, the energy, and the Gatorade bath in his post-game interview.}

Final score: 9-7 Yankees.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Yankees are going for the split in the series with their 4-game finale against the Rangers. After that, the Yankees head out to San Diego, where the All-Star Game will be held in less than 2 weeks. (Have you voted yet?)

Go Yankees!

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