15 Innings Later

After Hector Noesi (1-0) picked up his first career win during the whee hours of Thursday morning, a common sigh of relief was felt among all Yankee fans. “Finally.”

This game reminded me of the famous, “Jeter on the run, makes the play! And flies into the stands!” game against Boston a few years ago in the fact that this game, simply, would not end. However, the most shocking fact about this game wasn’t the 4:56 time of game stat. There were many other events that made a case to take home the award of “craziest feat of the night.”

For starters, 37 year old Bartolo Colon (2-2, 3.16 ERA) continued his dominance this year with an 8 inning, 3 hit, 87 pitch, zero runs allowed outing. He absolutely cruised through this game. His performance was the epitome of an outing that makes pitching in the MLB look easy. Mariano Rivera’s save opportunity was not, to say the least.

After Colon breezed through the 8th, I thought for sure that Joe Girardi would leave him out for the CG. However, (I don’t know what Girardi has against complete games) he decided to go with the greatest closer in the history of baseball. I remember good ol’ Joe took out Chien-Ming Wang a few years ago after he had pitched a 8 2/3 inning gem. Wang didn’t allow a baserunner in the 9th, and in fact, I don’t recall Joe ever giving a reason for taking Wang out of the game. I guess when you’re the manager of a New York sports team, you can do whatever you want. In any case, Girardi called on Mo to pitch the 9th, which you can’t argue with because, after all, you gotta go to Mo, right?

Rivera came in and eventually let up a sac fly to Yankee-killer Vlad Guerrero. So far, we have a 37-year old pitcher giving his best outing in 5 years and the best closer of all time blowing a save against the Baltimore Orioles. But wait, it gets better.

After a few failed opportunities to score in prior innings, the Yankees were able to get the first two runners on in the top of the 15th against Jeremy Accardo, who tossed 55 pitches in the game, his highest total of the season. Mike Gonzalez, whom the Orioles acquired from the Braves prior to the 2010 season, came in to face Robinson Cano with two on and none out. He took the first pitch he saw and lined it into the right-centerfield gap. One run scored, and finally, 10 scoreless innings after getting their first run of the game later, the Yankees got a player across home plate. Gonzalez proceeded to, just a few pitches later, hit rookie outfielder Chris Dickerson on the side of his helmet. Dickerson was on the ground for approximately 1-2 minutes, and hobbled to first base. A large welt was clearly seen on the side of his face. He hobbled to first base, only to eventually be pinch-run for by none other than…

AJ Burnett.

Go figure.

It officially was one of the craziest games I had ever had the fortune to witness. But there was more.

Gonzalez was the last pitcher in the Orioles bullpen. However, as soon as the baseball made contact with the side of the rookie’s helmet, Gonzalez was thrown out of the game.

The O’s reliever clearly did not hit Dickerson intentionally. Nevertheless, the Orioles needed someone to pitch to the next batter. They gave the ball to Jeremy Guthrie, who was originally scheduled to start in the game later that day. (The 15th inning ended at a little past midnight, eastern time.) After scoring two more runs in their half of the 15th, the Yankees sent out Noesi, who pitched a scoreless 14th, to finish the job.

Let’s recap: The Yankees only run of the game up until the 15th inning was an unearned run scored by Alex Rodriguez, who reached on an error. Bartolo Colon, an aging veteran, held the O’s to 3 hits in 8 innings while only throwing 87 pitches. Mariano Rivera blew a save. Mike Gonzalez, the final pitcher in Baltimore’s bullpen, was thrown out of the game after clearly unintentionally hitting a Yankee batter. Jeremy Guthrie, who was scheduled to start in about 18 hours, got the final 3 outs for the O’s.

Gotta love baseball.