This time, however, not only did Beckett and Burnett keep their competition at bay, every pitcher that was called in from the bullpen kept a scoreless tie alive into the bottom of the 15th inning. When Joe Girardi pulled Phil Hughes in favor of Mariano Rivera heading into the top of the 9th, Matt texed me and said "Now who is going to pitch the 10th?" It was only the tip of the iceberg.
The answer to that question was Alfredo Aceves, who also pitched the 11th and 12th, holding the Red Sox just one hit and one walk and striking out three. Brian Bruney added two scoreless innings of his own.
Junichi Tanzawa, who made his major league debut by facing Hideki Matsui in the bottom of the 14th, got him to line out to center and took a huge sigh of relief. He then allowed back to back singles by Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano, and Ramiro Pena was brought in to run for Jorgie. Eric Hinske ripped one to right field that appeared that it would end the game but J.D. Drew snared it with an impressive running catch to keep the Sox alive. Melky Cabrera was up next and during the course of his 8 pitch at bat ripped a 3-2 pitch down the rightfield line that was foul by no more than six inches before striking out swinging.
Phil Coke sat down the side in order in the top of the 15th and the Yanks got right back at it. Derek Jeter led off with a bloop single, bringing up Johnny Damon. For some incomprehensible reason, Damon, who has 13 home runs at Yankee Stadium alone this year, tried to bunt. After one unsuccessful attempt, his second popped up right towards Victor Martinez at first base and he made a diving catch. It looked like the game might be extended further when Mark Teixeira struck out swinging and A-Rod came up to the plate.
He worked the count to 2-1 and blasted a breaking ball in the the opposing bullpen to bring the game to an end after five hours and and thirty three minutes. There is a tendency to classify any curve ball that get hit for a home run as a "hanger" but this one was really not that bad. A-Rod just reached down and rocked it. The 73 at bat home run-less was ended at the best possible time.
It was hard tell whether it was a triumph of pitching or a failure of hitting. Obviously, to preserve a 0-0 tie for the better part of two full games the hurlers had to be doing something right. But there were 15 walks issued and the teams were a combined 0-19 with runners in scoring position. Just like Thursday night, it wasn't pretty. And just like I said after that game, we'll take what we can get.