Results tagged ‘ Dan Johnson ’
Joe Girardi managed Wednesday night’s game as if were an All-Star Game, and just as what happened to Joe Torre and Bob Brenly in 2002 he ran out of pitchers as the Rays staged a stunning comeback to push the Yankees’ final regular season game into extra innings.
For seven innings as the Yankees were coasting along with a 7-0 lead and working on a combined two-hitter, Girardi was running out pitchers sometimes just one out at a time. A.J. Burnett in fact pitched to only one batter. The strategy seemed fine so long as the Yankees had a huge lead, but man, did everything start coming apart in the eighth.
Think of all those people in the paid crowd of 29,518 at Tropicana Field who left the park early when it appeared their team had no chance to come from behind. Tampa Bay has one of the weakest lineups in the majors, so when the Yankees jumped all over David Price on a grand slam and a solo homer by Mark Teixeira in the first four innings the Jays seemed cooked.
But after Andruw Jones homered in the fifth to make it 7-0, the Yankees stopped hitting. They made 15 consecutive outs before former teammate Kyle Farnsworth walked two batters in the 10th before striking out Austin Romine.
With six outs left in their season and knowing the Red Sox were up by a run in Baltimore, the Rays put together a rally in the eighth against Boone Logan and Luis Ayala. Old pal Johnny Damon got it started with a single. Ben Zobrist, who made a costly error in the first inning, followed with a double.
Two hit batters sandwiched around a walk pushed across two runs. A sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton sent home another. Evan Longoria got the Rays’ only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position, a three-run home run off Ayala that made it a one-run game. The real devastating blow to the Yankees and an uplifting one for the Rays was yet to come.
Right out of a pulp fiction novel, pinch hitter Dan Johnson, down to what seemed Tampa Bay’s last strike of the season, drove a 2-2 changeup from Cory Wade into the right field seats to tie the score.
So the Yankees headed into extras having already used 11 pitchers. After the 11th, Scott Proctor, the only other available arm was Hector Noesi whom Girardi would have preferred to rest. The regular season just wouldn’t end for the Yankees.
They were still on the field when they found out who they will play in the American League Division Series that starts Friday night at Yankee Stadium – the Tigers. The Rangers’ extra-inning victory at Anaheim ensured they would face the wild card entry, the identity of which was not known until after midnight.
In a stunning turn of events, only minutes after the Red Sox lost to the Orioles, who scored two runs off Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth, Longoria took Proctor deep with one out in the 12th for a playoff-clinching home run. The Rays’ 8-7 victory over the Yankees completed an amazing comeback against Boston, which lost a nine-game lead in the wild-card standings over 26 days in one of the worst collapses in major-league history.