Saturday, June 09, 2007

Pirates fall to Yankees in 10 innings as Jeter "smokes" single

Derek Jeter's infield single sunk the Pirates on Friday night - AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Through five innings, Tom Gorzelanny was outpitching Andy Pettitte and the Pirates held a 2-0 lead over the Yankees. The offense to that point had been provided by Xavier Nady's solo home run and Jack Wilson's RBI single. The Pirates were playing very well in the field, highlighted by a sparkling bare-handed play by Jack Wilson. The bleachers at Yankee Stadium was a good place to be for a Pirate fan. In the 6th, Gorzelanny began to tire. His pitches were staying up in the zone, and Hideki Matsui took advantage with a game-tying two-run home run to right. Gorzelanny's pitch count was approaching 100, and I began looking nervously at the Pirate bullpen. I did not see anyone that made me feel very confident, but I knew Gorzelanny was going to need help soon. He finished off the 6th inning, and the Pirates' offense came to his aid in the top of the 7th. With two outs and a man at second, Chris Duffy lined a 2-2 pitch sharply at centerfielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera started in and was unable to recover as the ball sailed over his outstretched glove. With Duffy running and Cabrera on the ground after his failed attempt at the catch, it went for an easy inside-the-park home run. That gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead and Gorzelanny again had a small cushion.

But Miguel Cairo immediately doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning, and the Yankees were in business again. At this point, Jim Tracy should have gone straight to the mound and removed Gorzelanny. His pitch count was over 100 and he was being hit hard. But Tracy stayed in the dugout. I guess he had as much confidence in the bullpen as I did. Two batters later, the Yankees had pulled within one on a Derek Jeter single and Gorzelanny was finished. John Grabow and Salomon Torres combined to hit one batter and allow two singles to tie the game. Damaso Marte entered the game with the bases loaded, one out, and a 4-4 score. He came up huge, striking out Hideki Matsui on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. He followed that up with another extended battle with Robinson Cano. On the tenth pitch, he induced a fly-out to center. Marte's performance kept the Bucs in this game when one bad pitch could have put it out of reach for the Yankees. A tip of the cap to him.

Jonah Bayliss and Matt Capps kept the Yankees quiet through the 9th inning, but the Pirates' bats could not push any runs across as the game went into extra innings. Matt Capps stayed in the game in the 10th, marking the second consecutive game he would pitch two innings. Three pitches into the inning, there were runners at first and third with one out. When Capps fell behind Johnny Damon 2-0, the Pirates intentionally walked him to load the bases for Derek Jeter. After a foul ball, Jeter rolled one slowly to the right side of the infield. Freddy Sanchez desperately attempted a bare-handed play, but could not get a handle on the ball. It was probably irrelevant, as he likely did not have a play at home even if he picked it up cleanly. The infield single gave the Yankees the 5-4 victory.

Observations from Yankee Stadium:
  • Wearing a Pirate jersey into Yankee Stadium, I was expecting terrible treatment from the Yankee faithful. I was expecting to be spit on, and maybe have a foreign object or two thrown my way. Maybe it is difficult to get too excited when you are playing the Pirates. Maybe Yankee fans have lost some enthusiasm with their slow start. Maybe it was the alcohol-free section in which I was sitting. But the New York treatment was almost friendly. I don't think I even heard any foul language directed toward myself or any of the friends I attended with. Actually, while inside the stadium, barely anybody talked to us. There was some friendly banter on the subway before and after the game and a couple of non-threatening comments as we walked through Harlem. But that was it. I have been treated worse at the Great American Ballpark for a Pirates-Reds game. Of course...
  • Surprisingly, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by Pirate fans in my section. I celebrated with a guy in a Van Slyke jersey sitting behind me. The Capps Crew was just a few rows away. It almost felt like home.
  • On the subway before the game, I overheard a couple of guys in Yankee jerseys discussing Roger Clemens. I got the impression that they wished the Yankees would just keep Clemens in the minors all season so that they could pay him his minor league salary. If Yankee fans are not excited about Clemens this season, who is?
  • At one point during the game, my friend left for some food. Several innings later she returned, reporting that the person in line in front of her had ordered 54 hot dogs and 54 drinks. Wow.
  • PNC Park and Yankee Stadium are completely different worlds. Every Pirate fan should go see a game there just to observe the electric atmosphere.
  • I can't remember the last away game I have gone to in which we have won. Out of town losses are the worst.

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