It simply could not have been better scripted…
On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Uli Seit/The New York Times
There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling. This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting. It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season. He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.
Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early. Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game. When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80’s in his pitch count. It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano. Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning.
The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run.
In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single. He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat. It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute. Unfortunately, he struck out. With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit. I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win. The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end. This one was clearly for the Boss…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day. The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4. I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same.
I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start. His father would be very proud…
This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night. They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique. Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…
John Munson/The Star Ledger