So we set a National League record for sac flies in one inning, then tried to set one for near-death experiences by a closer in one inning.
OK, I'm going to try some spin: Braden Looper's struggles, horrifying to watch though they were, proved instructive in illustrating how far our young, by-turns-exhilirating-and-excruciating team, has come in a month. At least for one night.
Last month, you will recall, we lost two out of three to Satan's minions in truly aggravating fashion: In the first game TBKM and Minky made errors in the sixth; in the third game Pedro convincingly established that he was the progeny of neither pinstriped jackasses nor their braying mook fans, thank you very much — or at least he established this through seven, only to watch in the eighth as Wright and Reyes made dreadful errors, setting it up for the Matsui who can hit and Bernie Williams to beat us.
Fast-forward a month. First we get rescued by several great plays by Beltran, Cameron and Minky, though Floyd's simultaneously juggling an overager shortstop and a baseball perhaps hinted at nail-biting to come. Fortunately, the Hermit of Montoursville emerged from his bunker and saw his shadow, which meant six more innings of lousy pitches. (If Piazza and Floyd don't miss a couple of pitches, Mussina would have exited down about 9-2.)
And then Looper Time. Let's review. One-out walk to Posada, meatball to Tino, 6-4, remaining Yankee-fan mooks rising from their boozy fantasies of violence and successful petty crimes to bray at the night sky. And then a perfect bunt by Tony Womack, charged by our promising young third baseman, emphasis recently on “promising” as in “still some work to do.” This is David Wright whose gaffe lost a game to the Angels, who got a run erased with a dopey break for third, who passed up two put-outs against the Phillies on one play, whose thoughts of a double turned a single into a groundout. We love David Wright, but his growing pains have been rather stabbing of late. And so what does David Wright do on an absolutely unfieldable, put-it-in-your-pocket-and-glower bunt?
He throws Tony Womack out by half a step.
Looper, given the Heimlich by one infielder, looks in puzzlement at the near-fatal chickenbone that just popped out of his throat and immediately crams another oversized portion of hot piping suck into his mouth: After starting Jeter off 0-2, he gives up a single. Then he gets unlucky: Robinson Cano chops one off the plate to Marlon Anderson, who as a fielder is a heckuva pinch-hitter. It's a Baltimore chop, another put-it-in-your-pocket-and-glower ball. Gary Sheffield is going to stroll to the plate as the winning run, torque that bat like a bullwhip, and do Something Terrible to us. You and I both know this.
Except Marlon Anderson sucks up an evil short hop, comes up, throws, and the ball thuds into Minky's glove before Cano slides in. Looper, Heimliched again, spits out another chickenbone, discovers to his amazement and ours that he's alive, and turns for the high five.
Whew. Every time I think I might have this game figured out, it shows me otherwise.