Home again. There’s a reason why they write movies about it, with taglines that encourage people to find refuge or love there. It’s why sports teams vie for “home field advantage”. It’s the only way you can go out, go away, travel, have adventures, make comparisons — because you have a home.
Luis Cessa got the start for this final homestand of the season and threw a pretty good game. He kept the visiting division leaders Red Sox scoreless through most of his outing. Overall, he threw 84 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out 2 Boston batters. Cessa didn’t allow much at all until his final inning.
In the 6th, a lead-off single ended up at 2nd on Cessa’s own throwing error. Another single scored that runner. And still without an out in the inning, a double moved runners to scoring position. But then he got a very big strikeout to a certain retiring power-hitter. A ground out scored the lead runner, but another strikeout closed the door on the Red Sox, getting Cessa out of his own jam.
Meanwhile, the Yankees actually got on the board early. In the 1st, with 1 out and Ellsbury on 1st with a single, Gary Sanchez hit his 20th home run of the season, a 2-run homer deep to the visitor’s bullpen. And for you baseball trivia nerds out there, that one also ties an 86-year-old record of the quickest rookie to reach his first 20 homers (Boston Braves’ Wally Berger, 1930).
The Yankees again charged forward in the 5th inning. Romine and Austin each singled and ended up in scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Romine scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. In the 6th, with 2 outs, Didi Gregorius added another run with a solo home run (also his 20th) to the right field seats.
Tommy Layne, coming off his dramatic finish yesterday, was looking to keep things low for the Red Sox, but wasn’t as successful as last night, giving up a lead-off home run to kick off his outing. A single moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, and Layne got a good strikeout. But when another single scored the tying run, Layne was done. Blake Parker came on for a single and ground out to close out that inning. Another out at the top of the 8th, and Bleier came on to successfully shut the door in the 8th for those 2 outs.
In the bottom of the 7th, Romine led things off with a single, and then Tyler Austin stepped in for a great 2-run home run to give the Yankees back the lead. A single and out later, the Red Sox starter was done (after giving up 12 hits to Yankee batter tonight, by the way), and his relievers did a better job of keeping the Yankees from adding to their lead.
So it was onto the 9th for a quick 3 outs, but if you’ve learned anything about this year’s Yankees, that wasn’t going to happen. Tyler Clippard did his best version to raise the drama, giving up a double and a walk in the journey to those 3 outs. No Red Sox crossed the plate under his watch, but it certainly made things interesting.
Final score: 6-4 Yankees
Okay, all this talk about Gary Sanchez is rightly deserved. His offense has certainly kept the Yankees in postseason contention for a whole lot longer than anyone ever thought they would. But Tyler Austin’s home run contributions seem to come when they need to mean something. He currently has 4 homer — his first at-bat, his 25th birthday, that walk-off win against the Rays, and tonight’s winning run. Baby Bombers, indeed!
For all the drama happening on the field, the most interesting story from Yankee Stadium tonight happened when a fan decided to propose to his girlfriend in the middle of the 5th inning. On the big scoreboard. Andrew waited for his moment with Heather. And just as he was about to get down on his knee, he opened the ring box, and the ring popped out. Literally popped out of the box and fell into the abyss that are the stadium seats. (Seriously, I’ve almost lost my cellphone several times, and it’s like 25x the size of an engagement ring.)
But that’s not the end of the story. While Andrew felt terrible and Heather felt bad for him, the entire section of Yankee fans went on the hunt for the ring. People were searching through popcorn buckets, purses, pockets, everything. Smart fans got their phone flashlights on and started searching everywhere. Stadium security came over to help the cause. All this while the Yankees and Red Sox played on.
But then suddenly, they found it. It had dropped in Heather’s jean’s cuff. So when Andrew finally had the ring back, he finally could continue the proposal. Heather said, “yes”, as the entire left side of the 2nd deck cheered them on. Later, in interviews, the newly engaged couple retold their story. They are part of Yankee history, and that whole section is now part of their history.
Tonight’s game (and its great side story) got me thinking even further about home. Sometimes, what people assume as their “home” is not a friendly place or troubled or dysfunctional or whatever. But I don’t believe that’s really “home”. Home is meant to be a place of rest, where you feel most yourself, a place to come home to and feel a sense of strength and love and find the courage to face the next task or adventure. Sometimes it’s a specific place, but I think who happens to share that location makes all the difference.
People stopped everything they were doing to help Andrew and Heather, neglecting the game in a heartbeat because it meant something to this young couple. People cared for these perfect strangers because it was the right thing to do. And it made them feel like home.
My memories of home always include a location, but they are highlighted by who is sharing that location with me. Home isn’t an escape, but a refuge, haven. Home is a base, a jumping off point. Home makes you a better you. Find your home, and then go big on your next adventure.