Headley a walk-off hero in Yankees debut

A trade completed earlier in the day Tuesday with the Padres that brought third baseman Chase Headley to New York addressed the Yankees’ need to improve their offense. For one night, the move worked wonders.

Headley ended up having a dream debut by driving in the winning run of a 2-1, 14-inning victory over the Rangers. Four hours and 51 minutes after the first pitch, Headley ended a frustrating night for the Yankees and himself with a single to left-center field off Nick Tepesch, Texas’ ninth pitch of the game, that scored Brian Roberts, who had doubled with one out and moved to third base on a single to right by Francisco Cervelli.

Brett Gardner officially welcomed Headley to the Yankees with a Gatorade bath during the newcomer’s postgame interview near the dugout.

The 2012 National League Most Valuable Player candidate and RBI leader started the day in Chicago and arrived at Yankee Stadium after the game started. He batted as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, stayed in the game at third base and had three more at-bats, two of them with a chance to produce a walk-off victory.

Headley’s previous opportunity came in the 12th inning when it appeared for sure the Yanks would put this one away. For the second time in three days, three fielders could not catch a pop fly by Brian McCann that fell for a single after a leadoff single by Carlos Beltran and a wild pitch by lefthander Ryan Feierabend. After Ichiro Suzuki advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, Roberts was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Righthander Scott Baker came in to face Cervelli and promptly fell behind 3-0 in the count. Cervelli took the next pitch for a strike and then hit a scorching liner that was caught by third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Up came Headley with an opportunity to be a hero, but he hit a weak ground ball to second base and the game went on.

Neither club scored for 12 innings. The Rangers broke the deadlock in the 13th on J.P. Arencibia’s home run off David Huff. Texas had two more hits that inning but failed to get an insurance run that proved necessary when closer Joakim Soria blew a save.

The Yankees finally broke through on a leadoff double by Gardner, a sacrifice by Derek Jeter, and a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Beltran moved Ellsbury to third to give the Yanks an excellent change to finish it off. McCann did not hit the ball high enough in the air this time but rather a soft low liner that Arencibia at first base took on a bounce to start a rally-killing twin killing.

After announcing the trade, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters, “I have more work to do.” The victory, as satisfying as it was, only served to emphasize that. The Yankees failed to score over 12 innings against the worst pitching staff in the American League (4.90 ERA).

The positive for the Yanks was that their pitchers also tossed up zeroes for 12 innings. Still, the offense needs to get into gear. No team can win a game, minus one to zero.

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