Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 7:32 a.m.
Shades of November 2001--almost.
Here we were again, in the land of deja vu, with New York Yankees relief pitcher extraordinaire Mariano Rivera trying to hold a one-run lead against the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks.
Then, of course, it was the BOB (Bank One Ballpark) and now it's Chase Field. More important, the Yanks still are among baseball's elite, and the D-Backs surely aren't.
The finale of the three-game series between the inter-league rivals turned out to be one of the more intriguing battles of Arizona's dismal season, a game in which New York somehow found a way to win in 10 innings by a 6-5 margin.
The Yankees tied the game in the top of the ninth as D-Backs relief pitcher Aaron Heilman, who hasn't been half-bad overall, walked Derek Jeter (very close 3-2 pitch) and Nick Swisher to start things off.
It smelled like doom, and it turned out to be just that.
Swisher's would be the 13th walk of the game by Arizona pitchers, a franchise record, though a dubious one.
Jeter, who epitomizes the word professional on the field, eventually scored on an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly to tie things.
Curtis Granderson (who did a classy interview on Fox-Sports right after the game) hit a homer in the 10th to give New York its 6-5 lead, and it seemed inevitable that Rivera--one of the all-time greats out of the bullpen--quickly would send everyone home after finishing off the home boys in short order.
But just like that (and eerily reminiscent of the classic 7th game of the 2001 World Series), the D-Backs got something going, loading the bases with no one out.
The tying run was just 90 flippin' feet away.
And, to end things, the obligatory Mark Reynolds strikeout to end things.
A slightly different ending than a Luis Gonzalez bleeder over the outstretched glove of Derek Jeter to win a damned World Series for the Diamondbacks (arguably the greatest moment in Arizona sports history).
The D-Backs hustled with a sense of desperation all game long and had some (but only some) timely hitting.
But yet again (rev up broken record now), the bullpen couldn't hold a lead, albeit it a mere one-run advantage. The result was another win for New York and a crushing loss for a beleaguered team that really has been up against it this season.
The Diamondbacks hit the road tomorrow and start a series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports (Channel 34) and on KTAR 620. For more invormation, go to www.diamondbacks.com