And then it all fell apart.
Jason Giambi walked to start the inning, but then Jeremy Affeldt whiffed Bernie Williams, and induced Jorge Posada to tap into what should've been an easy double play grounder. Affeldt, with his fate in his own hands, short-armed a throw to Angel Berroa at short. Berroa, who'd gone to the bag to force Giambi, couldn't catch Affeldt's throw.
As they say in the official scoring business, you can't assume the double play. But that was the ballgame right there. Affeldt knew that, too. He fell apart after that play. New acquisition Matt Lawton, playing right field, singled the opposite way. Tino Martinez, hitting for Robinson Cano, hit a seeing-eye single through the right side. Mike MacDougal, the Royals' closer, remained seated as Derek Jeter came to the plate. Shawn Camp, whatever that is, came out of the visiting bullpen in his stead. Single to Jeter, followed by another one of those deep fly balls to center by Hideki Matsui, followed by a double by Gary Sheffield to tie the game.
Even on TV you could hear the chant of "Let's Go A-Rod!" as Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with the opportunity to win the game. One more grounder later, that's all she wrote. At YES, they kept on going back for reaction shots from the Royals' dugout while this happened, and the experience of watching these young kids see this game slip away was excruciating. As painful as watching the Yankees beat someone can be, anyway.
The feeling in the stadium was so strong, that the Yankees would come back in the 9th, that Jorge Posada, after scoring on Jeter's single, immediately put his catching gear back on. The score at that point was only 7-5, but Posada wasn't going to hear anything about waiting until the tying run scores before preparing for the top of the 10th.
That dedication to a positive attitude ties into something from Sam Borden's notebook column in today's Daily News:
INSPIRING, THIS IS: Jorge Posada walked around the clubhouse with a box of T-shirts yesterday, putting one on each chair. The dark blue shirts had the phrase "GRIND IT" written in block letters on the front and the Yoda-esque, "There is not trying. There is only doing or not doing" on the back."There is not trying" sounds wrong, but the sentiment is all right. It reminds me of the days when Chili Davis passed out t-shirts to the team with the Napoleon Hill quote: "Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel," to motivate them in the 1999 campaign. For what it's worth, today there was "doing" at Yankee Stadium.