Yanks lose game, possibly Joba
Rivera gets night off in game decided by walk-off grand slam
ARLINGTON -- Prior to Monday's game against the Rangers, Mariano Rivera said he was available to pitch if the Yankees needed him. After the game, he said he would have come in to pitch had the bullpen phone rang.But in between, Rivera was forced to watch Damaso Marte surrender a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning. He had to join his sullen teammates after a 9-5 loss at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, knowing he didn't get a chance to prevent it. "It's hard to see your teammates battling," Rivera said. "You wish you could do something to help, but other than rooting for them, I couldn't." So Rivera observed helplessly from the Yankees bullpen as Marte strained to keep the game tied, 5-5, in the ninth. Marte began the inning with a walk to pinch-hitter Milton Bradley. Four batters and two outs later, Marte loaded the bases with his third walk of the inning to bring Marlon Byrd to the plate. The first pitch Marte offered Byrd was a fastball out and over the plate until it touched down 412 feet away beyond the center-field wall.
"He threw it over the plate. It was a great feeling," said Byrd, whose walk-off grand slam was the first by a Rangers player since Alex Rodriguez hit one on July 31, 2003.Marte said the fastball wound up higher than he'd wanted. "It's difficult for my team and it's difficult for me," Marte said. "It's difficult for everybody."
After the game, manager Joe Girardi said he didn't consider using Rivera because he wanted to give his All-Star closer a night off.Although Marte, who entered in the eighth, had already thrown 41 pitches before Byrd stepped to the plate, Girardi was hoping he could nail down the third out in the inning. Girardi said David Robertson was warming in the bullpen and he would have brought him in if he thought Marte had thrown too many pitches. "I would have used Robertson next," Girardi said. "We would have used him if we got to the 10th." In addition to Rivera, Jose Veras was also off-limits to Girardi out of the bullpen. It was the wrong night for the Yankees to be without a pair of arms out of the bullpen. This was because just 4 2/3 innings into the game, New York lost its starter, Joba Chamberlain, who departed with stiffness in his right shoulder. In Chamberlain's brief outing, there was only one play that looked like he might have suffered the injury on. In the bottom of the fifth with a runner on first, Ian Kinsler grounded a ball right in front of the plate that Ivan Rodriguez didn't wait around to hear called fair or foul. Rodriguez fielded the ball and fired to second for a hopeful double play. In the process, he almost sent part of Chamberlain to second base with the ball. Reacting at the last second, Chamberlain jumped to the grass to avoid getting hit and rolled to his feet awkwardly. "I just stood there and Pudge fired a bullet over my head," said Chamberlain, who didn't think his injury occurred on the play, but Girardi was interested in the play for a different reason. Kinsler's hit was ultimately ruled a foul ball by home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher, who surmised the ball deflected off Kinsler while he was in the box. From Girardi's perspective, Kinsler was out of the box when he made contact with the ball, which would have resulted in a dead ball and Kinsler being out. Instead, Kinsler continued his at-bat and worked a walk that put two runners on base. Two batters later, Michael Young hit a three-run home run that put the Rangers ahead, 5-4. "It was a hard-fought game and they have a good lineup up and down," Chamberlain said. "I fell behind and you can't fall behind a guy like Michael Young. I left it over the plate and he did what he was supposed to do with it."
The home runs from Byrd and Young overshadowed an impressive display by the New York offense.Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano and Xavier Nady all hit solo home runs to right field -- Giambi and Cano's landing in the upper deck. Nady's came in the top of the eighth and tied the game at 5 to force the walk-off situation in the ninth. In the top of the ninth, Johnny Damon doubled with two outs to put himself in position to score the go-ahead run. When Derek Jeter sent a low line drive to center field, Damon thought he was headed home until Josh Hamilton made a diving catch. "I wasn't sure," Damon said. "The ball carries a bit differently here. But Hamilton is a great athlete and he made a great play to help his team win."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.