Yankees vs. Mariners, 7/18/2006

I don’t think when I woke up yesterday I could’ve imagined having gone to a game like last night’s Yankees game. You always hope to be there for a walkoff home run, but with the Yankees offense over the past few years you usually expect the chances of that happening being pretty low. Then again, my family and I were at the Jorge walk off game, but left when the Yankees first took back the lead due to rather cold May weather. Last night, I think it was pretty obvious if we left early, it wasn’t going to be because of cold weather after some 98 degrees weather during the day around NYC.

I went to last night’s game with my parents and one of my best friends. We had seats in Tier Reserved Section 11, row B. None of us (well I don’t think my mom even knew who Ponson was before last night) had high expectations for Sir Sidney. So when he struggled in the first inning, I just expected to be seeing a lot of Villone, Wilson and Chacon. The fans gave Sidney some strong boos as he walked off of the mound after the first.
The Yankees were able to show some early offense against Joel Piniero despite an “offense” that had Cairo batting second, Bernie starting and hitting 5th despite hitting righties much worse this year and Stinnett as the catcher at the bottom of the lineup. Phillips’s homer was one that was carried by the hot air, and in the upper deck, seemed like it’d be stopping at the warning track. And in the ballpark when it carried and Mariners CF Adam Jones jumped for the ball, it looked like it went off of his glove (which later on a highlight video online I saw was not the case). Either way, the Stadium was happy with the Yankees bringing the score to 3-2.

Ponson cruised through the next two innings, with Sidney striking out three in the 4th, which got the fans very much behind him. The Yankees did put some pressure on Piniero over the next few innings, but never enough to amount to any offense. The Mariners scored again in the 5th, though none of the balls that were hit were hit hard, so that must be somewhat of a confidence boost to the stocky one. Ponson also did something Shawn Chacon hasn’t done much in his time with the Yankees and that was pitch into the 7th inning. Torre went to Ron Villone when the Mariners got a runner into scoring position with 2 outs in the 6th and Villone did what he’s done well for the Yankees this year, and that was he worked out of the jam.

Now it’s time for rant #1. During God Bless America these women behind my best friend got mad at him because he had his cap on. I’m sorry, but I don’t see any laws saying that you have to remove your cap during God Bless America. It’s not even our national anthem. Has this country gotten to the point that if we don’t take off a cap during God Bless America, people think there’s going to be a terrorist attack?

In the bottom of the 7th, Nick Green’s second double of the game chased Piniero. The Yankees went to Posada with the chance to begin a rally. Unfortunately, not to the delight of the fans, there would be no rally at this point. The 8th inning saw no more runs score thanks to the work of Ron Villone, Kris Wilson (Now raise your hands if you honestly were calm while he pitched. Yep, that’s what I thought.) and Rafael Soriano(for the Mariners).

Time for rant #2. With all of the amazing games the Yankees have had in recent years, I was pretty surprised to see around 5000 seats empty out with people leaving the stadium as if the game was decided already.Well, with what happened, that was their loss.

Wilson pitched a pretty quick 9th inning as the moisture that had built up in the air began to fall and the first lightning bolt appeared to “Aah”s from the crowd.

Now for anyone who has read an article or two on WPA, we know that the Mariners chances of winning going into the bottom of the 9th were about 95%. However, the rain sure didn’t seem to care about that. It started pouring. My mother ran inside. But my father, my friend and I stayed outside and let the rain relieve us of the days heat. Of course the thunder and lightning added to the ambience. And Putz, who – based on what I saw last night – throws a splitter and a fastball. And he couldn’t control his splitter in the rain. Though he can really push his fastball across as it was reaching 97-98 mph last night. That was pretty much destined to be a train wreck for him. As for what happened? Well Alex Belth is a much better writer than I can ever be, and he described it perfectly.

The crowd–as if speaking for all of New York–started to cheer, both for the team and for the rain. Andy Phillips doubled. Thunder clap. The fans roar. Winds swirling like mad. Aaron Guiel, pinch hiting, singled to right scoring Phillips. Lighting. More cheers.

And then, a gift. The Yanks lucked out when Jorge Posada was called safe legging out a ground ball. He was clearly out. Instead of two outs and a man on third, it was one out, men on the corners. Johnny Damon followed and slapped the first pitch into center for a sacrifice fly, tying the game.

A-Rod came up next and seeing that Putz was unable to throw his splitter with much control worked the count to 3-1. And then, in the pouring rain the umpires decided to call for the tarp. Here was where I felt the umpiring crew showed a lack of planning. As did most of the fans with their boos that were louder than those given to Ponson in the first. The rain only got marginally worse from the beginning of the A-Rod at bat to when the umpire called the players off of the field. If the at bat was good enough to start in that weather, then it was perfectly fine to finish in that weather. Instead, the umpires ruined the at bat for both Putz and A-Rod. Putz could’ve had the chance to strike out A-Rod. Whether A-Rod would’ve done anything or not, certainly it’s not fair to delay an at bat by what turned out to be a nearly 2 hour rain delay. Mike Reilly, the umpire who got the call at first wrong, got this decision wrong as well.

During the rain delay, everyone moved inside, and around 90% of the fans left. My parents, my best friend and I moved down to loge, but were doubtful about our chances of getting seats. However, we were able to get seats pretty far down in section 23. We sat around hoping for the delay to end while on the big screen the Yankees showed a Yankeeography on Rivera. Pretty amazing that the guy isn’t retired yet and there’s still so many memorable moments in his career that they could fill a whole TV show. Meanwhile the fans sure found ways to keep themselves entertained. One fan, hoping to test the security in the rain ran onto the field and tried to jump the wall in right center. Security noticed as he was failing at pulling himself up the wall and ran onto the field. He was able to evade security for a little, but eventually he was outnumbered, and finally arrested and taken off of the field. As the rain started to slow and grounds crew members would pop their heads out to see how the rain looked outside, the fans (mostly those in the right field Field Championship seats) would start cheering and chanting “Let’s go Yankees!”. Eventually the fans got restless enough to the point that they started chanting “Take the tarp off!”

At around 11:45 PM the tarp was finally beginning to be pulled off. The fans went nuts. Fans in the Field Championship and Legends Suites seats around the infield were allowed back to their seats. Andy Phillips did a good PR move for the Yankees and signed autographs for the fans. He was also the first to begin stretching as the tarp was off, though it might’ve been a bit dangerous as the water he kicked up while jogging indicated that there were still puddles in the outfield grass. And the way the grounds crew fixed up the infield reminded me more of my PSAL days than of a major league baseball game. My parents, my friend and I moved to section 17 in the loge as we found 2nd row seats over there. I was able to get a much better view from there of what ended up unfolding.

Unfortunately this was also when the security people made a bad decision (Possibly aided by higher ups telling them to do so). Many people tried to move up to the Field Championship seats, but security made those without Field Championship seats leave. It’s a shame since it would’ve made the crowd seem larger and the chants louder. Plus it’s not like many people were even left in the stadium. Over 90% of the crowd was gone by the time the game started back up at midnight.

A-Rod went down on 2 pitches and we got some Farnsworth pitching to watch. I can see why so many people are frustrated by him. It was especially apparent in person, as he has such good stuff, but at times seems unable to command it. Farnsworth was rested, though, and dealing the heat. According to the Stadium radar gun, on one pitch he reached 101mph. This prompted the right field fans to chant “One-oh-two!” A few pitches before he did so, I suggested Farnsworth throw a slider as with his all fastball regiment up to that point, the Mariners would not hit the slider. Also the tenth was the debut of the quirkiest Yankees defense yet, one which had Johnny Damon at first and Andy Phillips at second. Whatever you want to say about Damon, he sure is a team player, and one who gives it his all.

Bernie Williams also made a nice catch in the 10th on a line drive by Adrian Beltre. Bernie was the only hitter in the bottom of the 10th to make any noise, and so that went quickly.

“Everyday” Scott came in to pitch the 11th since Farns is a 1 inning guy. Besides hitting Eduardo Perez with a pitch, Proctor looked good and it’s obvious the rest over the All Star break helped him out.

And then the bottom of the 11th. When Melky hit the HR, it sounded like the stadium was still full. The fans were so excited to have the game end that way. There was a father and son in front of me and they were hugging in joy. Before Melky even made it home, the “Melky!” chants were abundant. My parents, my friend and I left after the curtain call and as we walked down the ramp, the fans were still excited, with chants of “Let’s Go Yankees!” and “Melky!” going around and tons of whistling and “Woo!”ing being done. It was also the first time I’ve left Yankees stadium and seen no traffic. We got to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 15 minutes and we didn’t break any speed limits.

Overall, just a fun game once it got past the first inning. Yes, there were lots of questionable calls, but I’ll take the Yankees victory and still smile about it.

(Sorry about being nearly 2 hours late on this, also.)

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