10/10/09 12:20 AM EST
Houdini act sets up Teixeira's heroics
Robertson escapes bases-loaded, no-out jam in 11th
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
In a sense, it was magic, as rookie Dave Robertson -- making his postseason debut -- retired Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez and Brendan Harris in a emotionally-charged display that sent the home dugout into an uproar and brought the sellout crowd to its feet.
And Mark Teixeira kept them standing, opening the bottom of the inning with a walk-off homer for a 4-3, 11-inning Yankees win that's destined to be an instant postseason classic.
"We called him Houdini after that," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said of Robertson. "That's a tough jam to be in. We were fortunate they hit that one ball to [Teixeira], but I liked his demeanor, his expressions. He looked like he was unfazed the whole time out there."
Despite the calm exterior, Robertson joked he was so nervous he didn't even know if he was breathing. Knowing he would likely get the ball to face Michael Cuddyer, Robertson watched Damaso Marte give up back-to-back singles to Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel before he was summoned to face the Twins first baseman, who promptly delivered a single to center. But Mauer was held at third on the hit, leaving the go-ahead run at third.
That's when Robertson, lauded by manager Joe Girardi for his ability to get big strikeouts, instead relied on his defense. Young ripped a line drive down the first-base line that Teixeira snagged, and Gomez followed with a grounder that was also deftly played by the Yanks first baseman, who threw home to force Mauer at the plate for the out No. 2.
The unthinkable -- leaving the bases loaded -- became a possibility, and Robertson ended the threat by getting Harris to fly out to center.
"That was incredible," Teixeira said. "Bases loaded, game on the line, maybe series on the line with how well those guys play in Minnesota. Coming up with three big outs in a row, that's impressive for a young pitcher."
|Gm. 1||NYY 7, MIN 2||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||NYY 4, MIN 1||Wrap||Video|
And it was equally devastating on the other side of the field.
"I'm not feeling too well right now," Mauer said. "I'm slowed up a bit. We had our chances to win. We had bases loaded and no outs. We just couldn't get it done."
Minnesota's 17 runners left on base Friday night ranks fifth worst all-time in postseason history, dating back to 1903.
Now staring at an 0-2 series deficit and one loss from elimination, it's situations such as Friday's 11th inning which will have the Twins wondering: what if?
"Those sort of defensive stands -- you almost feel like you are going to score a run the next inning, because it deflates [the Twins] so much," Yankees reliever Phil Hughes said. "To have bases loaded, nobody out [and] not be able to score, that was just a really good job by [Robertson]."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.