A-Rod Gives New York Yankees the 'Bases Loaded' Ending

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A-Rod Gives New York Yankees the 'Bases Loaded' Ending
Did A-Rod save the Yankee season with one swing? We'll see.

Is it better to be lucky or good?

In Alex Rodriguez's case, last night he was a little bit of both.

Rodriguez should could have been rung up on a called strike three in the ninth inning last night. But that didn't happen, and moments later, he hit a home run devastating enough in its effectiveness to leave Orioles closer Koji Uehara doubled over in anguish, looking like an eight-bit pitcher from the old Bases Loaded video game.

We don't know for sure what A-Rod's game-deciding, three-run shot will mean to the Yankees going forward. There was talk yesterday of it being "the home run that saved the season."

That seems a little strong to me—at least for now. If CC gets lit up tonight, or the Yanks lay an egg in the ALDS, one big homer on Sept. 17 won't matter much.

But it's forgivable for the fanbase and media to be hyperbolic about the moment, because it was that exciting, that dramatic, that clutch.

Ah, clutch. There were years that went by when Rodriguez was known as the antithesis of the clutch player. Only a Sully from Med-fahd would say that now.

Big win or not last night, there's an overwhelming probability that the Yankees will be in the playoffs, whether it be as a division or wild-card winner.

But the win was absolutely significant in how this Yankee team feels about itself as the postseason nears. Whether the players that were here in 2009 say it or not, it's clear that this team isn't as good as the one that captured the World Series a year ago.

Repeating is going to be a challenge, but home runs like A-Rod's provide a sign that these Yankees can be special, too. For all the roster's warts, there remains enough talent here to go further than anyone in October.

Last May in Camden Yards, A-Rod hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat of the season that the team pointed to as the moment the season took off. We can only hope this three-run homer in the same park has a similar effect in 2010.

Stray thoughts:

  • I've always found A.J. Burnett kind of unlikable, but this mysterious black eye situation ratchets up the whole experience for me. He looks like one of the henchman from that movie where truckers kidnapped Kurt Russell's wife.
  • Mark Teixeira is quietly having one of the worst "good seasons" in baseball history. Can you tell me the last time this guy got a big hit? How many completely clueless three-week stretches have we been subjected to this season? Robot malfunction.
  • A-Rod commented to Kim Jones after the game about the importance of going into the playoffs with a "full metal jacket." It was funny he said that, because right before he was interviewed, YES cut to a shot of Uehara in the dugout looking like Private Pyle right before he iced the drill instructor in the movie Full Metal Jacket. Tread lightly, Buck Showalter.
  • Felix Hernandez's near no-no last night against the Rangers may have put him ahead of Sabathia in the Cy Young race. I think the big man is going to have to get to 22 wins to regain favorite status. Winning tonight is mandatory.
  • You deserve it, Donnie. I'm now 2.3 percent Dodgers fan.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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