New Guy Wins it for Yankees
Walk-Off Single by Chase Headley in First Game as a Yankee
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 23- A beautiful pitching duel between two rookie starters, Nick Martinez of the Texas Rangers and Chase Whitley of the New York Yankees and continued by a phalanx of relief pitchers by both teams kept runs off the board for 12 innings.
After the pitchers stifled every rally before a run could be scored, a run for each club was scored in the 13th frame. There was no rally in the top of the inning. One swing by first sacker J. P. Arencibia lifted the ball into the left-centerfield stands to put the first run on the board and emotionally deflate the excited fans still in their seats.
The base hit by Arencibia was the first by the Rangers since Adrian Beltre’s lead-off single in the seventh inning.
Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the inning with a double. With one out, the man who can do no wrong, Jacoby Ellsbury, drove in the run that tied the score. The run batted in was Ellsbury’s fifth in the first five games of the current home stand.
Two newcomers who were appearing in their first games as Yankees were the heroes.
In the 14th, Jeff Francis, the seventh and final reliever of the game for the Yankees, entered the contest. Francis had been acquired Oakland on July 11. The veteran of 11 major league seasons was appearing in his first game in pinstripes. He had last pitched in a game on July 2. Twenty days later, he kept the Rangers scoreless for the inning and earned the win. Despite the 20 days between games, Francis told reporters he felt in shape to play, “I did what I needed to do to stay sharp. I don’t feel I’m behind.”
The Yankees bullpen did everything possible to give the Yanks an opportunity to obtain the victory. The seven relievers pitched eight innings and gave up only one run and four hits.
The Yankees put together their final and winning rally after the second seven inning stretch of the conterst. Brian Roberts hit a grounds rule double into the stands in right. Francisco Cervelli singled, moving Roberts to third. Chase Headley, who had been acquired earlier in the day from the San Diego Padres for fellow third sacker Yangervis Solarte, singled to end the game and put the Yankees in the winning column.
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi described Headley’s arrival during the game, “Chase came into the dugout at 7:30 or 7:40 and introduced himself.”
Headley’s first game as a Yankee was his 909th as major leaguer. He explained his emotions, “I’m just trying to do my job and become a part of this franchise. It’s great to be a part of a pennant race.”
The game that seemed it would never end, saw 37 players used and took 4:51 until it was over.