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, all the time

Dramatic headline, yes, but also possibly true. Had the Yanks rolled over and died after being down 5-0 early in the game, or 9-8 late in the game, they would've not only lost another game in the standings to the Sox and Rays, but they would've also nearly completely erased the red-hot start they got off to after the All Star break. They would've been at an emotional low point as they hit the road for a tough trip out West. Instead, they fought back again and again, hopefully showing themselves and us the type of grit they're going to display the rest of the season.

Usually, in a game like this it's tough to pick a player of the game. Today was no exception. Let's take a look at the guys who have a legit claim on the award, and their contributions:

  • Xavier Nady - If you go by the box score alone, Nady is the hands-down favorite. 4/5, 6 RBI, including a three-run bomb to give the Yanks the lead for good. He should've had another RBI, if not for the worst baserunning I've ever seen from Bobby Abreu.
  • Dan Geise - This guy continues to amaze me. Rasner was a disgrace and Geise came in with the Yanks trailing 5-0. Things looked bleak, to say the least, then Geise gave the Yanks three shut-out innings, only allowing 1 hit and two walks. If he doesn't pitch an effective 5th, 6th and 7th, this game is a loss. Plain and simple.
  • Ivan Rodriguez - It's often said that the first run is the hardest to score. Pudge broke through for the Yanks with his first bomb in pinstripes. It came the inning after Abreu's blunder cost the Yanks at least one run and it was huge for the Yanks to touch up Lackey in that inning. Then, after the Angels reclaimed the lead in the top of the 8th, Pudge led off the bottom of the inning with a single down the left field line. He set up the tie with that single off a tough pitcher.
  • Justin Christian - How can a position player who only appears in 1/2 of an inning and never picks up a glove be considered for this award? Well, by changing the game with your speed, of course. When Pudge led off the 8th with the aforementioned single, Girardi waited until the count went full on Melky to pinch run Christian. On that payoff pitch, Christian was on the move and his speed caused Aybar to boot what could have been a double play ball by Melky. All hands were safe. On the very next pitch, he stole third and scored on a bad throw/catch at third. His speed tied this game up. To add insult to injury, the Yanks batted around in the inning and when Christian's spot came up in the lineup he delivered the final nail in the coffin, a two-RBI single to cap the scoring at 14-9.
So those are your heroes from the game. There were also plenty of head scratchers. First among them is Bobby Abreu. Anyone who has a son of baseball playing age should show him what Abreu did in this game. Explain to him how stupid it was. Use Abreu as a life lesson, because it very well could have cost the Yankees the game. With the bases loaded and one out, Nady hit a medium-depth fly ball to left. The play was in front of him. Jeter tagged and went home, as he should have. Abreu tagged and tried to go to third. The throw beat him and he was tagged out before Jeter could score the Yanks' first run. It was the final out of the inning. There's a baseball axiom that you never make the first or third out at third. It's a cardinal sin to do so. To make the third out at third, negating a run, is beyond stupid.

Speaking of stupid, how about walking the number 9 hitter Reggie Willets four times. Why? Throw him three fastballs right down the middle. The guy has 540 career at bats and a slugging percentage of .326. What's the worst-case scenario, he hits a single? Twice, two out walks to Willets fueled Angels' rallies. The Yankee pitchers should be ashamed of themselves.

All told, there are lessons to be learned. Lucky stars to be thanked (Figgins was pitiful at third for the Halos). And a deep breath to be exhaled. The Yanks came out on top and now it's time to go to Texas and beat up on the Rangers for four games before heading to Anaheim for a rematch of today's game. I wonder if Geise earned a start in that game over Rasner?

Player of The Game: Brian Cashman. Geise, a 31-year old career minor leaguer, given a chance. Christian, a 28 year-old career minor leaguer, given a chance. Nady, a trade-deadline acquisition. Pudge, ditto. Cashman is directly responsible for all 4 of these guys. He gets the nod.
Team Record: 61-50
Damon: Nada