The Yankees have been waiting all season for a comeback win like they had Wednesday night over the Texas Rangers, and the hero, Didi Gregorius, said “the biggest is yet to come.”
These are the kind of nights that can make or break a season, and the Yankees’ six-run ninth inning will be talked about for a long time if this team makes a run to the playoffs.
With the Yankees down 7-2 in the eighth, Brian McCann homered with one out to pull them within four. Starlin Castro and Gregorius singled to keep the rally going.
Matt Bush came in for Texas, and got Chase Headley, who homered earlier in the game, to fly out to deep left, and struck out Aaron Hicks looking.
Texas stuck with Bush for the ninth, and he gave up a single to Rob Refnsyder and a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury before he was pulled for closer Sam Dyson.
Dyson’s first batter was Brett Gardner, who singled, and Refsnyder scored on a bad throw from the center fielder to make it 7-4, and brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run.
Rodriguez had a good at-bat and hit a liner to second base, and Ellsbury was lucky to get back and avoid being doubled-off.
Up next came McCann, who hit a three-run homer to nearly the same spot in right field that he homered the inning before, and the game was 7.
Castro followed that with a walk to keep the line moving, and Gregorius then homered to deep right for the walk-off win.
“I know it started with just Ref (Refsnyder) getting on base, everybody’s getting on base, and then Mac (McCann) came up big for us to tie the game. You know, just, we never gave up, that’s the best part of the game right there. We never gave up, you got to play the game to the end. Hopefully, we’re doing this right now and we’ll put our best foot forward from now on,” said Gregorius.
“Well, I mean you know you’ve got a lot of work to do,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of their mindset going into the ninth inning. “You know if you get a couple guys on, you’ve got some guys coming up that can hit the ball out of the ballpark and that’s what we did. That big hit from Mac (McCann), even that homer before (in the eighth), you know, kept us in the game and then you get a huge one from Mac and a big one from Didi.
“That should be the mindset every at-bat, just do your job, and we talk about that, just your job is to get on, make sure you get on. If your job is to drive in runs, drive in the runs. Don’t try to do too much, and I think each guy basically did his job and didn’t try to do too much.”
This is the type of comeback win the Yankees needed, and used to have far more often, as they grinded it out and won a game they shouldn’t have.
Of course, this came two nights after they lost a game at 2:45 in the morning that they should have won, so in that sense, the Yankees and Rangers are even. The difference is in between Cole Hamels dominated the Yankees and got Texas a win on Tuesday night.
“Wow, pretty awesome win against a tremendous team over there, can’t say enough about Mac (McCann), Didi (Gregorius), and you know, Tanaka the unsung hero, giving us that extra inning in the sixth was paramount,” Alex Rodriguez said afterwards.
“I mean it’s a huge win. We lost a heartbreaker the first night against these guys, and a tough one last night. It was huge to come back tonight and have a chance to split tomorrow.”
Luis Cessa did the job out of the bullpen for the Yankees in just his fifth appearance of the season.
Cessa went three innings, and allowed just one run – on an Adrian Beltre homer in the eighth – and two walks.
It was the best outing in quite some time out of the Yankee bullpen by someone not named Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, or Aroldis Chapman.
“Really good, he saved our bullpen and kept us still in the game. He did a nice job,” said Girardi. “For him, it’s got to be rewarding. It’s his first big-league win, and it was won in style.”
This was only the third Yankees’ walk-off win of the year, with the first coming on April 23 when Brett Gardner homered to beat Tampa Bay.
The second walk-off came last Wednesday, when a Castro homer capped a comeback from 8-4 down against Colorado to earn them a split of that two-game series. They took two of three from the Twins over the weekend before dropping the first two against Texas.
This is the type of win that can propel the Yankees, the type of win that starts a big run, one that has almost felt inevitable from this team.
“It can be huge,” McCann said of the the meaning of the win. “Again, we haven’t been playing our best baseball this year, but at the same time, we dug ourselves a hole early in April and we’re getting out of it right now and just got to keep playing good baseball.”
As low as the Yankees felt early Tuesday morning, that’s how high they felt on Wednesday night.
“I don’t think you temper your enthusiasm, but as I said earlier, I don’t ever get too high or too low. I think every day is different and you have to go out and do your job,” said Girardi.
“They should be excited in there. I mean, that’s a big win for us. That’s a win that we really had to fight for and we’ve fought late, so they should be excited and, hopefully the emotion carries over.”
The Yankees still remain below .500, at 38-39 after the win Wednesday night, and they will need the energy from that ninth inning to carry over for the next month when they face one top team after another.
“I think it’s good that they understand the sense of urgency,” Girardi said of the mood of his team on Wednesday afternoon. As I’ve said, as days tip away, you start to run out of time, and you don’t want to bury yourself. Baltimore’s playing extremely well, Boston has run into a few bumps here, but they’ve played well; Toronto’s played well. So, you can’t mess around too long and expect to be there.”
Wednesday night provided the best moment of the Yankees season, and that is the drive that has to carry them over the next three months to make this a memorable season.