Saturday, June 19, 2004
The 26th Player: Dodgers 6, Yankees 3
I arrived in the bottom of the first inning. Behind me sat a lanky pair of middle aged Yankee fans, and two kids, one in a Yankees cap, the other in a non-denominational cap (but, who I was to discover, was cheering on the Dodgers). They made a point to howl abuse at Green through the first three innings or so, but got remarkably quiet after the fourth when the Dodgers put up a three spot on Belly's double, a Giambi throwing error, Vazquez's wild pitch, and a Dave Roberts single.
The crowd, most of the 55,000 in the stands, gathered its limbs and roared, some chanting "Yankees suck".
The Yankee fans' cockiness melted.
Meantime, Jeffy didn't let his three-run third get to him. The hardest hit ball against him was the double by the pitcher Vazquez (now hitting .333 on the season!), but all the other hits blooped in. It was his best outing since May 22 vs. Atlanta, another three-run game.
Top of the fifth: Izzy showed Jeter how it's done with a brilliant backhanded spear, and a perfect throw -- no wow 'em from space moves.
In the fifth: two consecutive Vazquez wild pitches sends Belly to third, and Encarnacion cashed him in with a double. Then, the game's most amazing play: Cora bunts. Vazquez mishandles the ball, and Giambi drops the imperfect throw. Cora safe at first, and then Encarnacion alertly scored from third.
By now the louder of the Yankee fans are slunk in their seats, dazed.
Mota? Sit down, buster.
And then, just to show the Yanks that the Dodger fans have some throats too, they opened the bullpen gates in the ninth. Pandemonium. Something ancient is loosed in the park, something crawling on its belly. Something very, very hungry.
Matsui singles, broken bat. Thrown out at second on a Kenny Lofton force out. One down.
Lofton takes second. Whatever, Gagné says, and lets him.
Sierra grounds out, Lofton to third. Arrrrrrooooooooorrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhh says the crowd. Two down.
Pitch 1 - Called StrikeAnd Gagné delivers us, as he has so faithfully these many games, eighty times running. The crowd gets its stroooooooooooooooooooooiiiiiiiikeout, the stomping, clapping, yowling, high-fiving mass of them ecstatic, the game ended just the way it's supposed to, and against the old foe.
Pitch 2 - Ball
Pitch 3 - Swinging Strike. Everybody on their feet! you can hear Vinnie say, whether he's there or not.
Pitch 4 - Called Strike
The magic may run out. But on another day, another time.