While they have clarified their postseason situation by clinching the American League East title and guaranteeing home field advance in the Division Series and League Championship Series, the Yankees nonetheless find themselves in the middle of a race for a playoff berth.
The wild card slot is still up for grabs among two of their AL East competitors, the Red Sox and Rays, and the long-shot Angels of the AL West. The Yankees continued Boston’s September slide with a 6-2 victory in the afternoon portion of the split-bill doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Rays won at home against the Blue Jays to move to a half-game behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings.
Had the Red Sox lost the night game Sunday, the nine-game lead they held over Tampa Bay Sept. 4 would have completely evaporated. The Red Sox may have saved their season by overcoming a 3-0, first-inning deficit and winning, 7-4, in 14 innings on Jacoby Ellsbury’s third home run of the day to retain their one-game lead for the wild card.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Rays because they have to play the Yankees in their final three games at Tropicana Field while the Red Sox finish up at Baltimore. So the Yankees are still involved in this mix. In the meantime, they are getting a lot of positive vibes about their pitching as they prepare for the postseason. After Freddy Garcia pitched six shutout innings Saturday, A.J. Burnett turned in his best performance in more than two months in the Sunday matinee.
The Stadium crowd of 49,541 bestowed a standing ovation on Burnett as he left the mound with two out in the eighth inning after limiting the Red Sox to two runs and five hits – two of them home runs by Ellsbury, who had three of the hits off the righthander. Burnett walked two batters and struck out six and for a nice change of pace he did not hit a batter, throw a wild pitch or allow a stolen base.
This was an A.J. Burnett start out of 2009, his first season in pinstripes when he was 13-9. His curve was a huge weapon Sunday as Burnett got his record back to .500 at 11-11. It was only his third victory in 15 starts since June 29 but his second straight winning decision. The timing could not be better.
CC Sabathia, who threw a simulated game Sunday and declared himself ready to go, will start Game 1 of the ALDS Friday night at the Stadium against an opponent yet unknown. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has yet to reveal his postseason rotation but Sabathia in Game 1 is a given.
It is also expected that Ivan Nova, Sunday night’s starter who pitched 6 1/3 innings and got a no-decision, will get the ball in Game 2, although that is not a certainty. Burnett and Garcia are in a competition for the other postseason starting assignments with Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes, who will make their cases in the Tampa Bay series.
The Yankees solved Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball Sunday behind veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Brett Gardner and Jeter, who bunted for hits in the first inning, each scored without a hit. Gardner came home on an error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeter on a wild pitch to put the Red Sox in an early, 2-0 hole.
Posada, batting cleanup for the first time since 2009, hit his fourth career homer off Wakefield, a two-run shot in the third. The crowd ate it up, and Jorgie responded with a curtain call. What a far cry from that May 14 Yanks-Red Sox game when Posada objected to batting ninth and asked out of the lineup. Talk about ancient history.
Jeter added two more hits, a single and a double, that brought his batting average to .300 for the first time since after the second game of the season when he was at .333 on 2-for-6. Jeter was batting .260 when he came off the disabled list July 4. He has hit .338 since then. As late as Aug. 10, the Captain was hitting .271. Over his past 37 games, he has batted .372. DJ got to .299 twice late last month but dipped as low as .292 Sept. 17. Jeter’s current hot streak covers six games in which he has 11-for-22 (.500) with 2 doubles, 1 home run and 4 RBI.
The Yankees’ clinching gives Girardi a chance to rest regulars and give youngsters a chance to get some major-league experience. Perhaps the most pleasant aspect in that regard Sunday was the defensive work at first base by Brandon Laird, who made several sparking plays.
In the nightcap, the Yankees got outstanding relief work until Scott Proctor came on in the 14th and gave up a hit and a walk before Ellsbury connected. Unfortunately, the Red Sox bullpen had an even better night as they held the Yankees to one hit over eight shutout innings.
It was another extra-inning loss for the Yankees, who are 4-11 when going past the ninth, the worst record in the league and the third worst in franchise history, trailing only the 1-9 record of 1933 and the 3-9 of 1949.
The Yankees finished the home season with a 52-29 mark, tied with the Rangers for the best in the AL. The regular-season attendance of 3,653,380 and average of 45,107 per game led the AL, which marked the ninth consecutive season that the Yankees have drawn the most fans at home. This year’s 20 sellouts were the most in the three-year history of the current Stadium.
Mariano Rivera usually likes to avoid being in the spotlight except when on the mound trying to save a game, but he could not avoid it Sunday. The Yankees staged a pregame ceremony before the first game of a dual-admission doubleheader against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium to pay tribute to the closer’s setting the major league record for saves last week.
The Yankees organization commissioned a Waterford Crystal’s firefighter’s helmet with No. 602, the number that broke the previous mark of 601 saves by Trevor Hoffman, as well as an image of Rivera.
Jorge Posada, the catcher for so many of those saves, presented Rivera on behalf of his teammates a Fire Department of New York helmet, also bearing No. 602. Posada also assisted in unveiling a matted collage featuring 15 of Mo’s Topps bubble gum baseball cards and the title, “Best Ever.”
Steiner Sports gave Rivera a 602 saves collage and a check for $25,000 to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which is helping with the restoration of the North Avenue Church in New Rochelle.
Maybe the Yankees should have taken it easy on the Red Sox Saturday. After all, there is still tine for the Red Sox to blow their chances of making postseason play, and the way Boston has folded in September the Yankees just may want their rivals in the playoffs for easy pickings.
Judging from what was on view Saturday at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, this Red Sox team did not resemble the group that won 10 of the first 12 meetings against the Yankees this year. In fact, the Red Sox’ September slide began with the final game of a three-game series between them at Fenway Park in which the Yankees won, 4-2, to take the series, two games to one.
Despite that loss, the Red Sox clung to a half-game lead in the American League East. Look at the standings now. The Yanks have clinched the division title and with the Tigers’ loss Saturday night became the top seed in the AL, which gives them home-field advantage in the first two playoff rounds. Home-field advantage in the World Series belongs to the National League because of its victory in the All-Star Game.
The Red Sox’ hold on the wild-card berth has slipped mightily. Even after Boston’s 9-1 loss, it still has a two-game lead over the Rays and three over the Angels with five games remaining, including two Sunday that ends the Yankees’ home schedule. The Yankees will conclude their regular-season schedule with a three-game series at St. Petersburg, Fla., while the Red Sox move on to Baltimore, which won three of four games at Fenway Park last week.
The Yankees kept the Red Sox reeling and roughed up Jon Lester along the way. They bashed the lefthander for eight runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. Lester has been a major part of the Red Sox’ problem in September. In three starts this month, Lester is 0-3 with a 10.54 ERA. He has allowed 16 earned runs, 21 hits and eight walks in 13 2/3 innings in September.
All Boston could scratch together Saturday off Freddy Garcia, who was very good for six innings (no runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts) and five relievers was one measly run as they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Lester dug them into an 8-0, third-inning hole, and the Red Sox remained buried.
Rookie catcher Jesus Montero had another good game at the plate with a home run, double and a single with four runs batted in. Derek Jeter whacked a three-run homer off Lester to climax a six-run second inning. Russell Martin knocked in the other two runs with a single in the second.
The Red Sox didn’t look like they belonged on the same field with the Yankees, much like back in 1961 when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run off Boston’s Tracy Stallard, an event that was celebrated with a pre-game ceremony. Craig Muder and Bill Francis of the National Baseball Hall of Fame brought down from Cooperstown the ball and the bat from that day. They also went home with bats from Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson from the three-grand slam game Aug. 25 against Oakland.
The Red Sox don’t even look like they belong on the same field with the 1962 Mets, the losingest team in history. Boston’s record this month is 5-17, a .227 winning percentage that is worse than the .250 winning percentage the Mets had in ‘62 in September (6-18) and the entire season (40-120).
My daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Christopher Gennari, made the difference in the Yankees’ setting a regular-season attendance record at the new Stadium of 49,556. That beat the previous mark by one customer. If Beth and Chris hadn’t come, the attendance would have fallen one short of a record total.
The Yankees treated Roger Maris more honorably Saturday in a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of his then-record 61-home run season than he was ever treated during his seven seasons with the team.
There is a bittersweet legacy to Maris’ accomplishment in 1961 that was forever smeared by then commissioner Ford Frick’s edict that the 61 home runs did not break Babe Ruth’s record total of 60 in 1927 because Maris achieved his mark in a 162-game schedule – eight games longer than when Ruth accomplished his feat. The American League schedule was expanded in 1961 from 154 to 162 games because of the addition of expansion teams in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The National League followed suit the next year when it added the Mets and a franchise in Houston.
This silly argument was revived somewhat Saturday by two of Roger’s sons, two sons of his old teammate, Mickey Mantle, and several other members of the 1961 Yankees. Randy Maris and Roger Maris Jr., Danny Mantle and David Mantle and Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Bob Cerv agreed that they consider Maris’ achievement the real home run record, which is nothing more than wishful thinking.
It is a reaction to the tainted home run totals of sluggers during the steroids era. But since the commissioner says that all the records count, we have no recourse but to regard Maris’ 61 home runs as the eighth highest total in history. That does not mean, however, that it is not special.
To get mentioned in the same sentence with Ruth takes some doing. Yankees fans at the time would have preferred that Mantle break the record. He was a lifelong Yankee, the heir to Joe DiMaggio’s reign in center field. Maris was an outsider, brought from Kansas City by trade and never quite comfortable with New York.
Yankees fans have changed since then. Wade Boggs, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Scott Brosius and others came here from other teams in the 1990s and were embraced. They did not have to deal with falling into the shadow of a great ghost as Maris did with Ruth. A sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium Saturday got to witness Maris’ 61st homer in a video while his widow, four sons and two daughters stood in the infield alongside Mantle’s sons, Berra, Ford and Cerv, who was Roger’s roommate both in Kansas City and New York.
It was during the 1961 season that Mantle lived with Maris and Cerv in an apartment in Forest Hills, Queens. “We’ve got rules,” Cerv recalled telling Mantle, who was noted for his love of the nightlife while the other two were devoted family men. “Mickey lasted with us until about Labor Day.”
By then, injuries had caused Mantle to drop out of his race with Maris, who felt very alone that final month. Randy Maris said he was born that year about a month before the final game when Maris finally got to 61. “That was how Mom was able to come to New York that day,” Randy said.
Pat Maris was escorted to the field by Mariano Rivera. Craig Muder and Bill Francis brought down from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown the ball Maris hit that day and the bat he used. Sal Durante, the Brooklyn bus driver now living in Staten Island and who caught the ball in the right field stands that Oct. 1 afternoon, carried the ball onto the field. Derek Jeter carried the bat. The Yankees Foundation donated $10,000 to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in his home town of Fargo, N.D.
Also on hand were ’61 Yankees teammates Bobby Richardson and Moose Skowron and former bat boy Frank Prudenti. Cheryl Howard, the daughter of former Yankees catcher Elston Howard, sang the national anthem.
“I think Dad would have been excited about today,” Roger Jr. said. “He always said that the 1961 Yankees was the greatest team he ever played on. He has strong feelings about all of his teammates here. I know that when we were young and went to spring training it felt like we were all family.”
Yet it took a while for Maris to be treated like a true family member of the Yankees after he had been traded to St. Louis following the 1966 season. Credit former owner George Steinbrenner for bringing Maris back into the fold. The Boss invited Maris back to Old Timers’ Day celebrations and decided to retire No. 9 in his honor over such other worthy wearers of that number as Charlie Keller, Hank Bauer and Graig Nettles.
Maris has a fitting place in Monument Park, which was visited by Saturday’s guests. The reaction of the crowd to the ceremony was evidence that his memory has a fitting place with them now, too.
Weather conditions Friday night not only whacked the pregame ceremony observing the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris’ 61 home runs but also the scheduled game between the Yankees and the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The game was called shortly after 7 p.m., about the time the first pitch was supposed to have been thrown.
The game was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday as the second half of a split-bill doubleheader. The regularly scheduled game will start at 1:05 p.m. The game could not have been made up Saturday because the teams were locked into a 4:05 p.m. start on Fox’s Saturday Game of the Week.
Tickets for Friday night’s game may be used for Sunday’s night game or exchanged for selected games on the 2012 schedule. For more information on the Yankees’ rainout policy, please visit Yankees.com.
Yankees fans prefer their television coverage of the team’s games on YES or Channel 9, but they may want to tune into TBS Sunday. The Sunday MLB on TBS pregame show this weekend will feature a special preview of an interview of Derek Jeter by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., a studio analyst for the cable outlet.
The clip will provide a glimpse into a candid conversation between the shortstop legends during a half-hour edition of MLB on Deck airing at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. This summer, Jeter allowed a TV crew to follow him around for an HBO special that was cablecast after he got his 3,000th career hit July 9. Now there is this sit-down with Ripken, The full interview of Jeter by Ripken will be aired during TBS’ exclusive coverage of all four Division Series and the National League Championship Series.
This is no surprise, really. Jeter has long been an admirer of Ripken and his work ethic. I recall during Jeter’s rookie season of 1996 the first time he was with the Yankees at Camden Yards. Four hours before the first pitch of that night’s game, Ripken was taking part in an early batting practice session. After getting in his swings, Riken went out to his shortstop position and fielded ground ball after ground ball as several teammates got in their extra BP session.
All the while, Jeter in street clothes observed all this from the top step of the visitors’ dugout. I raced downstairs to get a comment from him. He turned to me and said, “So that’s how you get to be Cal Ripken, huh?”
I told Ripken that story, which was a cogent description of the dedication it takes to be a great player, the day he was elected to the Hall of Fame. “Derek is one of my favorite people,” Ripken said. “I’m sure there are plenty of other young players who have said the same thing about him.”
The Yankees postponed due to uncertain weather conditions Friday night their pregame ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris setting the major league record of 61 home runs in a season that stood for 37 seasons, even longer than Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old mark that Maris broke in 1961.
The event has been rescheduled for Saturday. Fans attending the Yankees-Red Sox 4:05 p.m. game at Yankee Stadium should try to be in their seats by 3:20 p.m. to be in position to view the special ceremony beginning at 3:35 p.m.
Joining the Yankees for the celebration will be the families of Maris and Mickey Mantle, his teammate who finished that season with 54 homers. Family members attending will be Roger’s widow, Pat, daughters Susan and Sandra and sons Roger Jr., Kevin, Randy and Richard as well as Mickey’s sons, David and Danny.
The master of ceremonies will be actor-comedian Billy Crystal, who directed the 2001 HBO movie 61*, which depicted Maris’ and Mantle’s pursuit of the home run record half a century ago. Also expected to be on hand are former teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bob Cerv, Moose Skowron and Bobby Richardson, plus former Yankees bat boy Frank Prudenti and Sal Durante, the Brooklyn bus driver who caught the 61st home run in the right field stands Oct. 1, 1961 on the last day of the regular season.
That ball as well as the bat that Roger used for the historic blow will be on view during the ceremony on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After a video tribute, the Yankees Foundation will present a donation to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in his home town of Fargo, N.D.
Cheryl Howard, the daughter of another Yankees teammate, All-Star catcher Elston Howard, will sing the national anthem. A group of honorees is scheduled to arrive at the Stadium at 12:45 p.m. at Gate 4 where they will officially unveil the Gray Line New York Ride of Fame bus honoring Roger. They will then go on a private tour of the Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America, before heading to Monument Park.
Just the other day, I was interviewed by a young writer from the newspaper in Fargo, and I told him that it is my belief that what Roger accomplished 50 years ago is more revered today than it was then. Friday night’s ceremony will be a chance to relive one of the greatest moments in the history of a franchise that has had more of them than any team in professional sports.
Manager Joe Girardi vowed Thursday night to keep the Yankees competitive one day after the team clinched the American League East title. Girardi emphasized that the Yankees still have something to play for, and he will not throw out phantom lineups over the last seven games of the regular season.
“I’m just not playing guys 12 days in a row is what I’m not going to do,” Girardi said. “So I’m not taking my foot off the gas. And I don’t expect our guys to, either. Because you want to be playing well and you want to be feeling good about yourself going into the playoffs and you want home-field advantage.”
That is still the carrot out there for the Yankees, to finish with the best record in the league, which would give them home field advantage in the Division Series and League Championship Series. Home-field advantage in the World Series will go to the National League representative because that league won the All-Star Game at Phoenix.
The skipper will continue to rest his regulars down the stretch. Thursday night’s lineup did not include Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson or Russell Martin. Mark Teixeira was the designated hitter rather than playing first base. A batting order minus such players is not unusual the game after a team clinches.
But it was not long before it began to resemble an old-fashioned hangover game back in the days when players whose teams clinched got, shall we say, over-served at the bar. Derek Jeter made two errors and Nick Swisher one in a sloppy effort behind Bartolo Colon, who was shelled for seven runs (five earned) and seven hits in three innings driving his season ERA to 4.02. Colon was a feel-good story for much of the summer but is winless in nine starts since July 30 and is not a lock to be in the postseason rotation.
With Tampa Bay out to a 13-0 lead by the fifth inning, both sides began substituting freely to make it resemble a spring training game rather than one with playoff ramifications. The Rays, eventual 15-8 winners, are still in the hunt for the AL wild-card slot, trailing the Red Sox by two games.
The blowout allowed Girardi to give September call-ups Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances a taste of the big leagues. Brackman gave up no runs, one hit and one walk in 1 2/3 innings. Betances struggled with command. He walked four batters and hit one in allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Set to join the Yankees Friday for their Rookies Program will be pitchers Manny Banuelos, Adam Warren and David Phelps. They will participate in batting practice, scouting meetings and all non-game activities.
In addition, CC Sabathia’s quest for a 20-victory season is over. CC made three tries for No. 20 without success. Girardi wants him fresh to start the opener of the Division Series and will have him throw a simulated game Monday when the team is in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the final series of the regular season.
Oklahoma Christian University will officially dedicate the new Bobby Murcer Indoor Training Facility Friday as a step toward reviving the school’s baseball program. School officials and members of the Murcer family will gather to celebrate the opening of the $503,000 facility, named after the Oklahoma City native and Yankees player and broadcaster, who died in July 2008 at age 62 after battling brain cancer.
Murcer, a five-time All-Star, was among the most famous players to come out it Oklahoma. He starred at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City before being drafted by the Yankees. Bobby played briefly for the Yanks during the 1965 and 1966 seasons before spending two years in the U.S. Army. He resumed his major league career in 1969 and followed another Oklahoman, Mickey Mantle, as the Yankees’ starting center fielder.
Murcer played for the Yankees through 1974, then spent two seasons with the Giants and 2½ years with the Cubs before returning to the Yankees midway through the 1979 season and played with them until retiring in June 1983. In more than two decades as a broadcaster for the Yankees, Bobby won three Emmy Awards for live sports coverage. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2004.
Although he did not attend Oklahoma Christian, Murcer had strong ties with many people associated with the university, as he and his wife, Kay, attended Memorial Road Church of Christ, which is located immediately southwest of the OC campus.
OC dropped baseball after the 2001 season and didn’t again field a team in the sport until 2008. As OC prepared to re-launch the baseball program, university leaders asked Murcer to support their efforts, which agreed to do. The university scheduled a gala event early in 2008 involving Murcer, which eventually had to be canceled because of his deteriorating health.
Kent Allen, OC’s vice president for alumni relations, is a former minister at the Memorial Road church and a friend of the Murcer family. He wanted to honor his memory in a tangible way on the OC campus. That idea led to the naming of the new baseball indoor practice facility in honor of Murcer.
“We felt like we needed to give honor to whom honor is due,” Allen said. “In the end, he had developed a keen interest in wanting to bring OC baseball back, even better than before. Here’s a man who drove by the university every day, had seen the importance of bringing baseball back to the university, had developed good relationships with so many people on the campus, had lent his name to a fundraising activity and was one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons. It just made sense to name the facility after him.”
Kay Murcer supported the decision to name the facility after her husband. “I feel like my roots are here in Oklahoma and I will keep my heels dug in this area,” she said. “I hope one day, maybe one of our grandkids will attend Oklahoma Christian. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Bobby.”
OC baseball coach Chuck White said the university is glad to be able to honor Murcer’s memory, because of what he stood for.
“It’s how he handled himself and how he treated other people,” White said. “He was always very gracious, very humble and very engaging. You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who has a bad word to say about him because he always treated everybody so well. I think that is what drew people to him. He was a very humble individual who never elevated his position because of his profession.”
The Bobby Murcer Indoor Training Facility is located on the northwest corner of the Oklahoma Christian campus, next to Dobson Field, where the Eagles play their home games. The 12,800-square-foot facility includes 8,000 square feet of workout space, including batting cages. The facility also includes a clubhouse with showers, an athletic training area, a weight training area and laundry facilities.
The lobby of the facility includes photos from Murcer’s playing and broadcasting careers, special wallpaper that depicts various scenes from OC’s baseball history and plaques honoring the 10 Oklahoma Christian players who have received NAIA All-America honors through the years.
At a later date, two seats from the old Yankee Stadium donated by the Yankees will be displayed in the lobby.
With a game still to play Wednesday evening, the Yankees could not get carried away in celebration of their clinching a playoff berth by winning in the afternoon. Their reward for keeping their composure was the opportunity to howl at the moon after capturing their 17th American League East title with another dramatic victory over the Rays.
The nightcap of the split-bill doubleheader sweep was highlighted in storybook fashion. What better way to win a division title than to have Jorge Posada, who has endured the most trying season of his career, to come off the bench and punch a bases-loaded single to right field for the two deciding runs of a 4-2 triumph?
As the Yankees gathered in the center of the Yankee Stadium diamond to share hugs and high fives and try on postseason sweatshirts and caps, Posada was in the middle of it all. For much of the season he seemed to have been pushed aside. A year after being replaced as the team’s first-string catcher, Posada lost half of his designated hitter job to Andruw Jones and then the second half of it to an upcoming catcher in Jesus Montero.
But Wednesday night, Posada was second to no one. It was like old times for a player who had been such an integral part of the Yankees’ incredible run since the mid 1990s as they won seven pennants and five World Series championships. They put themselves in position to add to those totals with the events of Wednesday.
They assured a playoff spot and reduced their magic number for clinching the division title to 2 by winning the afternoon game by an identical 4-2 score. The Red Sox’ 6-4 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park shaved the Yanks’ magic number to 1. The crowd of 45,586 at the Stadium really got into it, getting ready to celebrate along with the team before Sean Rodriguez homered off CC Sabathia in the seventh to tie the score at 2.
That was the one disappointment of the victory, that Sabathia did not top it off by getting his 20th victory as he failed in his third try. CC left the game with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. David Robertson took one pitch to turn Tampa Bay away by getting Ben Zobrist to ground into a double play. It was a brutal day for Zobrist, who returned to the team after the birth of his son. In his three other at-bats, Zobrist struck out.
Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate Jeremy Hellickson stayed with Sabathia through seven innings by allowing only two hits, including the 27th home run of the season by Robinson Cano, who had the game-winning hit in the afternoon, a two-run double in the eighth. The other run off Hellickson was on a double play, which at the time the Rays accepted because it got them out of a bases-loaded jam.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon used four relievers to try to navigate through the eighth. Nick Swisher got the first of two big pinch hits for the Yankees that inning with a one-out double. A walk to Mark Teixeira and an intentional pass to Cano had the bags full with two out. Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Posada to bat for Montero against Brandon Gomes.
There was history between Posada and Gomes, however brief. They faced each other once before in 2010 and Posada hit a grand slam. Now here they were again with the bases loaded. Posada did not go as deep as last year but deep enough as he stroked the single that gave him a moment as special as those of teammates Derek Jeter (3,000th hit) and Mariano Rivera (record-breaking 602nd save).
They are the remaining trio of a remarkable group of players who have made winning a habit with the Yankees. They still have that habit.