Mac, Didi pay back Rangers in 6-run ninth inning
Just before the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night, Rangers public relations director John Blake, one of the best in the business, passed in front of me in the press box to tell the Texas beat writers that “21 victories would be a club record for one month.”
At the time, it seemed the Rangers were a cinch for that record. Texas had a 7-3 lead and appeared on the verge to run its June mark to 21-6. Not so fast, cowpokes. As it turned out, the Yanks still had plenty left in their holsters.
Did they ever.
Two nights after the most grueling defeat of the season when the Rangers followed a 3 1/2-hour rain delay to score four runs in the ninth and overcome a one-run deficit, the Yankees exploded for six runs to pay Texas back with a 9-7 victory.
Brian McCann, who had homered with the bases empty in the eighth, came up again with two on in the ninth and tied the score with a three-run homer. Yankees fans had barely stopped cheering when Didi Gregorius followed a walk to Starlin Castro with a first-pitch drive to right field for the game-winning blow. His seventh home run of the season was the first walk-off hit of his career.
Both homers came off Rangers closer Sam Dyson, who was summoned after Matt Bush gave up a leadoff single to Rob Refsnyder and walked Jacoby Ellsbury.
Brett Gardner singled to left-center off Dyson, and when center fielder Ian Desmond bobbled the ball Refsnyder came home. Alex Rodriguez hit the ball hard as well, but his liner was gloved by second baseman Rougned Odor. That would be the only out recorded by Dyson, who got the save Monday night but this time suffered his first blown save of the season in 17 tries.
It was pretty dull going for the Yankees until the ninth. Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up for six earned run and eight hits in six innings and left with the score 6-1 Texas. In what at the time was essentially a mop-up role, Luis Cessa allowed only a solo homer to Adrian Beltre in three innings as the Yanks tried to stay close on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley in the sixth and Mac’s first homer in the eighth.
Nevertheless, the Yankees were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position before the ninth. They went 2-for-3 in those situations in the final frame to produce one of the most exhilarating victories of the season merely two nights after the most debilitating loss.