Sometimes you look for signs. You look for omens. You look for harbingers. And sometimes they mean nothing. Maybe in a few months’ time this 8-6, 11-inning, close-to-five-hours victory the Yankees pulled out over the Royals on Monday night in Kansas City will fade to a blur, and be remembered as just another in the 162-game parade.
Or maybe it’ll mean a little something more than that.
At 1:04 a.m. Eastern Time, Wandy Peralta coaxed Carlos Santana to bounce one to third base. Rougned Odor flipped it over to Luke Voit at first. And the Yankees had a most satisfying victory on a most unusual night.
Say what you will about the ghost-runner extra-inning rule — which, with any luck at all, is entering its final two months of existence. But this sure was a fun, crazy, hard-to-believe, impossible-to-forget tug of war, assisted by, but not exclusively beholden to, those four free runners the Yankees and Royals received in the 10th and 11th (all of whom scored, by the way).
The Yankees won the game despite being the first team since the 1995 Astros to collect four blown saves in the same game. The Yankees won the game despite being the first team in the modern era — that would be the 121 years since 1900, for those keeping score at home — to blow leads in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
This was actually a wonderful pitchers’ duel for most of the night, Jameson Taillon and Carlos Hernandez matching zeroes for six innings. It was a tight, quick game — until it wasn’t. It was a routine game — until it wasn’t.
The Yankees looked bound to lose the game.
Except they didn’t. Remember this one. Circle it. Highlight it in yellow. You may want to remember it.
“So many people did stuff tonight,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “On a scorching-hot night they kept coming.”
It was a night preceded by an afternoon in which the Yankees lost another player — Gleyber Torres landing on the injured list with a sprained thumb — and learned that another, Gio Urshela, wouldn’t be returning from a balky hamstring as quickly as they’d hoped, kept behind in New York for more rehab.
They keep losing players and winning games.
It may not be the ideal formula. But it works.
And so it goes. And on it goes.
“We’ve got a lot of really good players focused on winning, understanding the critical place we are in our season,” Boone had said before the game, giving further voice to the next-man-up mantra that must be a part of every Yankees manager’s playbook. “There’s no other expectations here except to keep winning games. We have a lot of players capable of playing at a very high level.”
Even with a list of absent players that’s almost staggering to behold — Gerrit Cole, Domingo German, Gary Sanchez, Urshela, Torres, Anthony Rizzo, Jordan Montgomery — the Yankees won again. Winning, as a habit, it’s a helpful thing especially at this time of the year. No matter who’s wearing the uniform.
“It was one of the weirder wilder games I’ve ever seen,” said Taillon, who was terrific across six innings, allowing but one unearned run. “Every time we needed a big hit we got one. Every time they needed a big hit they got one.”
Right up to Santana, bottom 11, the tying runs on base, the Royals fans among the 18,477 at Kauffman Stadium on their feet, the not-insignificant number of Yankees fans watching through hands stretched over their eyes.
“We’ve lost some tough games this year,” Boone said, “but the fact that we’ve played in so many I think helped us tonight. There’s a comfort level in playing in them.”
And an even higher one winning them.
“A grind,” said Luke Voit, back from purgatory, who had two huge hits including what looked like the game-winning homer in the ninth.
Even with all the new faces, learning on the fly, these Yankees are not only learning how to play like Yankees, but win like Yankees, too. Good stuff.