Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I spent a rain-filled afternoon (and early evening) at Yankee Stadium for Wednesday's series finale against the A's.
Thanks to some generous soul on Razorgator, my friend and I sat field level, a mere thirteen rows from Nick Swisher, for an unbelievably low price. Arriving early for batting practice turned out to be hugely successful. First, we managed to secure an autograph from Joba Chamberlain (after a pleasant wave from Hideki Matsui).
Then we received a baseball each from a random assortment of Oakland Athletics.
And to top it all off, we appeared on the new Jumbotron. Let me tell you, it is TRULY terrifying to find yourself prominently featured for a good 30 seconds to a minute on a 103-by-58-foot, 1080p HD big screen at Yankee Stadium, your face alight with 8,601,600 LED lamps.
The game got underway under grey, stormy skies. Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera hit back-to-back homeruns in the 2nd inning and Derek Jeter added his fourth homer of the season in the 4th.
But CC Sabathia was unable to hold any leads provided by his offense, and left the 7-7 tie game with two outs in the 7th. The Yankees loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the 7th but failed to deliver.
The Yankees emptied their bullpen as the game continued on into extra innings. Phil Coke, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, and Edwar Ramirez each pitched an inning or less of scoreless relief before giving way to Jose Veras, who has struggled mightily thus far this season. Veras, however, provided 3 1/3 hitless innings, racking up 4 strikeouts and taking the game, still 7-7, into the 14th inning.
After celebrating the 14th inning stretch with a second rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," Nick Swisher led off the bottom of the inning with his third walk of the ballgame. After a fly out by Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera stepped up to the plate. To this point, Melky had one walk-off homerun in his career, back in July of 2006. My sister and I just so happened to be on hand that rainy evening to witness Melky become the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a walk-off homer for the Yanks. Could Melky send me home happy once more?
Yes indeed! Melky smacked a two run homerun to right field and celebrated the first walk-off victory at the New Yankee Stadium.
Despite the rain, it was a truly memorable day spent at the ballpark, and a great victory to build on heading into Boston.