St. Petersburgh, Fla - It would have been, to use a gross understatement, a bad loss.
Jorge Posada, with a big assist from September call-up Greg Golson, made sure it didn’t happen.
Posada led off the 10th inning with a mammoth pinch-hit home run off the roof of the restaurant in center field to give the Yankees a much-needed 8-7 victory over the Rays in front of 28,713 at Tropicana Field.
“Huge win for us, no question,” said Alex Rodriguez, whose 23rd homer of the season, in the fifth inning, gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead.
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Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 10th for his 30th save, but not without a major scare.
Carl Crawford led off the inning with a single and Evan Longoria followed with a fly to deep center that Curtis Granderson caught on the warning track, just a few feet short of what would have been a walk-off homer.
Crawford remained at first but stole second with Matt Joyce at the plate. But Crawford’s aggressiveness eventually cost the Rays.
Joyce lofted a fly to short right field that was caught near the foul line by Golson. Crawford tagged at second and was thrown out at third on a one-hop throw, with a good tag by A-Rod, ending the game.
The usual right fielder, Nick Swisher, out with an injury, was impressed.
“Unbelievable,” he said as he left the clubhouse. “That’s one of those, ‘Gee, wow’ ones.”
The same could be said of the game, one in which the Yankees and rookie Ivan Nova blew a 6-0 lead but eventually won to take a half-game lead in the American League East and end a four-game losing streak that has featured its share of heart-breaking losses.
“If we lost this game, it would have been tough,” Posada said.
Curtis Granderson, who had two doubles, helped send the game to extra innings with a diving catch, one in which he laid his body out horizontally to rob Ben Zobrist to end the ninth.
“I was just trying to keep an eye on it and at the last minute it’s, hey, this is the only chance I have to make a play on it, let me leave my feet,” Granderson said.
No one had a chance to make a catch on Posada’s bomb, hit off Rays’ reliever Dan Wheeler on a 2-0 pitch.