10/10/09 1:24 AM ET
Don't even! No split as Yanks win classic
Tex adds his name to Bombers lore with walk-off homer
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
On Friday night, Teixeira became the 10th Yankee to blast a postseason walk-off homer -- and the first at the new Yankee Stadium -- by driving the ball over the left-field wall to give the Bombers a 4-3 victory and a commanding 2-0 lead over the Twins in their best-of-five American League Division Series.
Alex Rodriguez, on a roll after his recent postseason slump, tied the score at 3 in the ninth inning off closer Joe Nathan with a mammoth two-run shot to right-center. The series can be decided on Sunday at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Metrodome.Teixeira joins the likes of Aaron Boone, Derek Jeter and Mickey Mantle in that select company of Yankees who have hit postseason walk-off homers. Bernie Williams did it twice, giving the Yanks a total of 11. "Those are things [to think about] after the season," said the switch-hitting Teixeira, whose homer was hit right-handed against lefty reliever Jose Mijares. "Hopefully, we finish the goal that we've put out for ourselves all year. Right now, you can enjoy it for a couple of hours, but if you don't take care of business, it kind of loses its magic." Well, enjoy, enjoy. Boone's homer, the last of the Yanks' postseason walk-off jobs prior to Friday night, came off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and won the 2003 AL pennant at the old ballpark across 161st Street. But this game was most reminiscent of the wild Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, which the Bombers lost in seven games to the D-backs. Like A-Rod on Friday night, Tino Martinez hit a two-run ninth-inning homer off Byung-Hyun Kim to tie the score at 3. Like Teixeira, Jeter hit a solo shot off Kim in the 10th inning to win it, 4-3. "It's a pretty unbelievable feeling as a manager when you get to put those two guys in your lineup every day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Teixeira and A-Rod, his Nos. 3 and 4 hitters. "They've been huge for us all year."
Bronx big shots
|'09 ALDS||M. Teixeira||J. Mijares||MIN|
|'03 ALCS||A. Boone||T. Wakefield||BOS|
|'01 WS||D. Jeter||B.H. Kim||ARI|
|'01 ALCS||A. Soriano||K. Sasaki||SEA|
|'99 WS||C. Curtis||M. Remlinger||ATL|
|'99 ALCS||B. Williams||R. Beck||BOS|
|'96 ALDS||B. Williams||R. Myers||BAL|
|'95 ALDS||J. Leyritz||T. Belcher||SEA|
|'76 ALCS||C. Chambliss||M. Littell||KC|
|'64 WS||M. Mantle||B. Shultze||STL|
|'49 WS||T. Henrich||D. Newcombe||BRO|
The game had more twists and turns than the old Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island. The Twins stranded 17 baserunners, including when they had the bases loaded in the top of the 11th. They lost a run when Carlos Gomez stumbled rounding second base to end the fourth and was tagged out by Jeter. And the umpires admitted that they blew a call when Joe Mauer was robbed of what replays proved was clearly a double before he singled anyway in the 11th.On top of it all, the Twins are now 0-9 against the Yankees this year and have lost four times at the new Stadium in walk-off fashion, including once to A-Rod on a homer. They leave New York having lost 10 consecutive games here since July 4, 2007. And they fell to the Yankees in four games in the 2003 and '04 ALDS, even though they split the opening pair each time at the old Yankee Stadium. That's a lot of futility against the Bronx Bombers to overcome in what may possibly be the final baseball games at the Metrodome on Sunday and possibly Monday. "It's really disappointing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've been walked off enough times here. Some of the things that happened out there tonight were pretty disappointing, but some of them were pretty good, too. It was a good baseball game. A lot of things could have gone either way. But they didn't go our way again tonight. We ended up getting walked off again." The crazy stuff started with two outs in the fourth inning. Gomez stumbled while rounding second base and couldn't scramble back to the bag after third baseman Matt Tolbert had singled to right field. Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher threw the ball to Jeter -- behind Gomez -- as Minnesota left fielder Delmon Young tried to score the first run of the game. Young was a few feet from the plate when Jeter applied the tag on Gomez, keeping the run off the board. Had Gomez eluded the tag or simply forced a rundown, Young would've had time to score a run that proved to be crucial in the game. "When I saw that throw, I wanted to get back to second. It was my bad," Gomez said. "I was running fast, and I slipped. I tried to go back, because they thought I was heading to third. It was a mistake. That's the only mistake I made, and it cost an important run." In any event, the Twins still took a 3-1 lead in the eighth by the virtue of RBI singles off the Yanks' top bullpen tandem. Nick Punto hit his off Phil Hughes and Denard Span did likewise against Mariano Rivera. That lead stood into the ninth when Teixeira opened with a single, bringing A-Rod to the plate to face Nathan, who had 47 saves this season. Nathan wouldn't get another on Friday night. A-Rod took three straight balls before Nathan tossed a fastball for a strike. The next pitch was another fastball down the middle of the plate that Rodriguez met with the barrel of his bat, sending it screaming just to the right of the huge batters' eye in the new yard. He took three steps toward first and pumped his fist in the air, all of the previous playoff failure dissolving in a single breath.
Stranded on the sacks
|LAD||STL||16 *||10/7/2009||NLDS 1|
|LAA||BOS||16 *||10/5/2008||ALDS 3|
|CHW||HOU||15 *||10/25/2005||WS 3|
|ANA||SF||15 *||10/22/2002||WS 3|
|NYY||NYM||15 *||10/21/2000||WS 1|
|PHI||ATL||15 *||10/10/1993||NLCS 4|
|NYM||OAK||15 *||10/14/1973||WS 2|
|CLE||NYY||14 *||10/5/2007||ALDS 2|
|SD||@STL||14 *||10/7/2006||NLDS 3|
|TOR||OAK||14 *||10/11/1992||ALCS 4|
|DET||SD||14 *||10/12/1984||WS 3|
"You feel so good," A-Rod said. "You grind out an at-bat against one of the best closers in the game. You get to a favorable count and you get a pitch in your wheelhouse. Obviously, you don't want to miss it. The fun part is this: I was just thinking, 'Base hit -- hit the ball hard somewhere,' and it went to the seats."The Twins stranded runners on first and third in the 10th, and the Yanks had the winning run on third with one out in their half of the inning in the presence of pinch-runner Brett Gardner. But Johnny Damon launched a liner to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who doubled Gardner off third to end another threat. Asked if he thought his club's last opportunity might have gone by the boards at that point, Girardi said: "Yeah, you think about it. But one thing this team has done all year, they've come from behind. And they've come back and won games. That's an extremely tough read for Brett Gardner." But the rhythm of the game would not relent. In the 11th, Mauer led off against left-hander Damaso Marte. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Mauer hit a drive down the line that was chased by left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi. The ball might have landed a foot fair, but Cuzzi called it foul. "You can't see at all from the dugout," Gardenhire said, "but I think we all know the ball was fair by a long ways." Tim Tschida, the crew chief, agreed. "The left-field-line umpire saw the ball as foul and called what he saw, rendered the foul decision," he said. "Afterwards, like any close play, we went in and we looked at [the replay], and it's a clear indication that an incorrect decision was rendered." Although Mauer singled anyway, the call changed the whole context of the inning and might have affected the game's outcome. The Twins then loaded the bases with none out on successive singles, either one of which would have scored Mauer had the double been called. "You can figure that out, I think," Gardenhire said. In any event, David Robertson, the Yanks' eighth pitcher on the evening, worked out of the inning and the Twins, having left 17 men on base, recorded the fifth-worst figure in that category during postseason play since 1903. The Braves, with 19 stranded in a '99 National League Championship Series game against the Mets, hold the record. Anyway, as Teixeira walked to the plate to face Mijares to open the bottom of the inning, the Twins were about to meet their fate. He wasted no time, lining the fourth pitch for the walk-off homer. "I was just looking for a pitch up over the plate," Teixeira said. "I wanted to hit it hard. I thought I hit a double right there because of the top spin. I thought there was no chance it was going to get out. I was running hard making sure I got two. Then the crowd started going nuts. I figured it was a home run." Teixeira figured right. It was a home run -- the 11th walk-off in the Yankees' illustrious postseason history.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.