Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees celebrates with his team after hitting a game winning RBI in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
What is the difference between a hero and a normal? Sometimes the difference is putting your life on the line for the sake of saving somebody else's. Sometimes the difference is putting forth that little extra effort when anyone else would've given up. And sometimes the difference is like one or two inches.
Tuesday night, as the Yankees rallied to a walk-off 5-4 win over the Blue Jays, Mark Teixeira was the hero, as he came up with the winning base hit. And he came up with the winning base hit on a line drive that Juan Rivera very nearly snagged. To the media files!
Sure, you could watch the actual video highlight here, but the individual screenshots are so much more convenient, since you've already loaded this webpage. The sequence: "Not a hit." "Not a hit." "A hit!"
In life, there might be all the difference in the world between a hero and a normal person. In baseball, there's often a very thin border, with one's status being prone to the vagaries of luck. Tuesday night, Mark Teixeira got a little lucky, so he was the hero as the Yankees walked off behind him.
The reason the Yankees had to rally was because the Blue Jays got to CC Sabathia early on. With the score knotted at 1-1, the Jays tacked on three in the fourth, scoring on singles by J.P. Arencibia and Rajai Davis and a bunt by John McDonald. Later in the inning the Jays had an opportunity to blow things wide open, when Jose Bautista batted with two outs and the bases loaded, but Sabathia got him to ground a first-pitch fastball to short.
The easy thing to say would be that Bautista's out was the turning point. It was not the turning point, because the Yankees still couldn't do anything against Ricky Romero. Romero wound up throwing seven innings, allowing a run while striking out four, and this was a 4-1 ballgame going into the eighth.
But Sabathia had settled down since the fourth, giving the Yankees a chance to come back, and they started their comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Facing Marc Rzepczynski with a man on and two out, Robinson Cano supplied an RBI double, and Russell Martin knocked an RBI single to narrow the deficit to one.
Sabathia then made quick work of the Jays in the top of the ninth. That set the stage for the bottom. Facing closer Frank Francisco, the Yankees had a runner on third and two outs when Curtis Granderson grounded a breaking ball right by a diving Juan Rivera at first to tie the game. Granderson then quickly stole second, and in a 3-1 count, Teixeira pulled a line drive right to first that Rivera couldn't handle. The ball skipped away into the outfield, and Granderson raced around third to score the winning run.
Where earlier the Jays looked poised to pull to within a half-game of the Yankees in the standings, instead they suffered a demoralizing loss. For New York, Sabathia got the win, and also threw the team's first nine-inning complete game since May 18, 2009, which seems like an impossibly long time ago. I don't know about you, but in my head Sabathia goes the distance every other game.