JOE NATHAN leaves the field to hecklers at The Stadium after blowing a 12th inning lead.
7-6 Yankees in 12 innings. We've seen this before.
October. Postseason. Late Innings, Close game. Yankee Stadium.
The opponent never wins these games. It just doesn't happen. The Yankee closer last blew a postseason game like, two Presidents ago.
But the Twins could have won. Should have won. Ugh.
The last time I was so absolutely dejected, so utterly and completely destoyed emotionally by anything was when I was 16 and my first real girlfriend dumped my sorry ass. I came close to crying over that one. Fortunately, I poured a glass of milk, which I proceeded to spill, and you can't cry over spilled milk! That was close.
Ten years later. October 6, 2004. My broseph and me are watching Game Two vs. The Evil Empire, and the Yanks take a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning. They bring in their setup reliever, Tom "Flash" Gordon, who has been one of the 5 best relief pitchers in the league this year. You don't score on the guy. But my Twins get a break when he strikes out Jacque Jones and the catcher drops the ball -- Jones reaches first base. After another hit, we lament the fact that the Yanks will call on Mariano Rivera, Bitch Extraordinare.
Rivera has saved 62 postseason games, and blown just 2 -- none at home in the Bronx. But he's never faced the Canadian duo the Twins were about to throw at him!
Justin Morneau slaps a single to right, making it 5-4. Corey Koskie fights off several pitches before slapping a double to left, which unfortunately bounces over the fence, meaning the go-ahead run has to stop at third. Game tied 5-5. Rivera finally blew a game!
Each successive inning gets more nerve-wracking. Each successive inning, my brother's hair gets more frizzy, until in the 12th inning, he has a Timberlake-in-1999 fro going.
In the top of the inning, I tell my brother its time for Torii to channel the spirit of Kirby Puckett and hit a homer. So of course, Torii Hunter bitchslaps a homerun to left. Twins lead 6-5! Joy! Celebration! You Bet! We jump up ecstaticly, slapping hi-fives, yelling obscenities toward Noo Yawk, and waking up everyone who made the mistake of sleeping before 11pm.
TORII HUNTER slams a home run in the 12th inning giving the Twins the lead.
For the top of the 12th, all we need is 3 outs, and we go home to Minneapolis with an insurmountable 2-0 lead, needing only to steal one more game to win. So when closer Joe Nathan mans-up to take the ball for his third inning of work -- remarkable considering he had not pitched longer than 1 inning all year -- we move to the edge of our seats.
I tell my brother its time for Joe to channel the spirit of Jack Morris and man-up. He's gassed; but like Morris in the 1991 World Series, you got to man-up. Tell the manager, "You ain't taking me out. Who you got better than me?" So Joe in the 12th it is.
First batter, John "Brain Tumor" Olerud. Check swing strike three! We jump up, slap hands again -- 2 outs to go!
Next batter, the weak hitting Miguel Cairo. Nathan walks him on 5 pitches. Knowing full well that Jeter is coming up next, we fall silent.
Jeter walks on four pitches. Nathan is done. But we leave him in; "You ain't taking me out. Who you got better than me?"
A-Job drives the second pitch to the gap. Tie Game. The ball takes a fortuitous bounce over the wall, giving us a temporary stay of execution.
We walk Steroid Sheffield intentionally, and go to the bullpen. Juan Carlos Romero is the choice. We take bets on how many pitches before the Yankees win.
Two. Godzilla hits a sacfly to right, Jeter scores, Yankees win. God I hate the Yankees.
To lose in the 12th to the Yankees at home in October as Jeter comes thru, well, it happens. Its happened to Cleveland. Baltimore. The Red Sox. Anaheim. Oakland. Texas. Arizona. San Diego. Atlanta. Florida. So why would the Twins be any different?
But to lose after going ahead in the previous half-inning? Absolutely a dangerous mood swing. My brother and I sat in disbelief, no words spoken, for 20 minutes. No TV on. No sound. Just long periods of silence, disbelief, sadness.
My 15 minute drive home took 2 hours. This game was a sucker punch to that whole groinal-area. I sat up in silence for a while before I could sleep. This one's tough to get over.
Nice game fellas. We'll get 'em Friday. Carlos the Jackal will win 6-5 over Kevin "Temper Tantrum" Brown. Supernatural Santana wins Saturday to clinch, 4-zippo.
Keep the faith!