Thank Heathcott for September callups
I doubt you will be hearing Yankees manager Joe Girardi gripe about the inequities in roster expansion in September, a favorite topic of his. Not after what happened Monday night, not after a player who was just called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre two days ago delivered the critical blow in what was perhaps the Yanks’ most improbable victory of the season.
This was a tale of two games, really, well, one inning and the other eight, actually. The Yankees were no-hit for seven innings, still scoreless after eight and facing a damaging loss to the Rays with two outs and nobody on in the ninth.
Then, you guessed it, somebody walked, the play that starts so many inconceivable rallies. The somebody was Brett Gardner, who just as quickly put himself in scoring position with a steal of second base.
Rays righthander Brad Boxberger, zeroing in on what would have been his 35th save, instead sustained his sixth blown save as Alex Rodriguez doubled to right-center to tie the score. Suddenly the Yankees had life on what was previously a dead night. After Brian McCann was walked intentionally, Slade Heathcott wasted no time by swinging at the first pitch and driving a three-run home run to left field.
Slade Heathcott! Right, the same young outfielder who had not batted in a big-league game since May and who spent most of this season on the disabled list because of a quad injury and who was still on a Triple A roster before joining the Yankees Saturday as a, that’s right, September callup.
Rosters may expand from the usual 25 to up to 40 come Sept. 1. Managers such as Girardi have railed against this practice in recent years, but it was sure nice for the Yankees to have had Heathcott part of Monday night’s unlikely 4-1 victory.
This was a scoreless game for seven innings, a pitcher’s duel between starters CC Sabathia of the Yankees and Erasmo Ramirez of the Rays. Sabathia had arguably his best game of the season as he did not allow a run for the first time in his 26 starts over 6 2/3 innings.
Unfortunately, the Yankees didn’t get him any runs, either, nor hits until Carlos Beltran foiled Ramirez’s no-hit bid with a scorching single off the shoulder of first baseman Richie Shaffer leading off the eighth.
Pinch runner Rico Noel swiped second, but the Yankees failed to advance him further. Tampa Bay broke the scoreless tie and ended a 21-inning scoreless streak in the bottom of the eighth against Justin Wilson on a two-out, RBI double by Logan Forsythe, who reached third on Brendan Ryan’s second error of the game.
Caleb Cotham got a big third out with a strikeout of Asrubal Cabrera and was rewarded with his first major-league victory when the Yankees rallied in the ninth. Andrew Miller added an exclamation point to the victory by striking out the side in the ninth for his 33rd save.