If you stayed up slightly past 1 a.m., that was when the real on-field action took place. It happened that way because off the field, the Yankees and Major League Baseball were desperate to avoid a third doubleheader in six weeks against the Orioles.
There was Boone Logan giving up a one-run lead, Jorge Posada flinging his helmet in disgust after being called out and Francisco Cervelli nearly having a home run overturned.
That all occurred during the seventh inning of last night’s soggy 5-3 Yankee win over the Orioles that began at 11:08 p.m. and ended at 2:15 a.m. with Mariano Rivera getting his 598th save.
Weather reports said a window to get the game in was going to occur between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Even that was tricky, because it kept misting and raining, creating sloppy conditions, misadventures and wild throws.
And when it ended, it was a relief because a doubleheader had been avoided on the day that the Yankees were slated to leave for a 10-game road trip that begins Thursday with a makeup game in Baltimore.
“Doubleheaders are hard on the guys, they’re really hard,” Girardi said. “Both scenarios weren’t great, but now that it’s over I’m glad it’s done.”
The eventful seventh inning began with Girardi bringing Logan into a one-run game with a man on second in a 3-2 game. Three pitches into Logan’s appearance the lead was gone as Nick Markakis roped a double into the right-center field gap.
Anyone who called it a night before the seventh also missed Posada getting upset at being called out leading off the seventh and then doing some long-distance helmet tossing in frustration after first base umpire Bruce Dreckman’s call.
Posada’s frustration may have been understandable, but moments later Baltimore had a right to be annoyed with the umpires. That was because Cervelli’s drive to left field off Tommy Hunter clearly was touched by one of the few fans sitting in the left field seats while reaching over the wall.
“If it was overturned, I probably would have gone out because of the trajectory of the ball,” Girardi said. “The fans hands were a foot over the wall and it’s not going to come back and I felt it was a home run.”
“I saw the replay,” Cervelli said. “I saw it was a home run. You just have to cross your fingers.”
Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter asked for a review, but after a few minutes the home run call was upheld. Showalter calmly asked for an explanation, but even that proved pointless because three pitches later Brett Gardner hit a solo home run.
Phil Hughes turned in a decent night with slightly diminished velocity, but what Girardi felt was some of his best curveballs this year.
After getting rocked for 12 runs and 15 hits in 8 1/3 innings in Boston last week and in a 22-9 win over Oakland Aug. 25, Hughes pitched similarly to his six innings against Tampa Bay on Aug. 13.
In Boston, Hughes averaged 92 mph on his fastball and last night, though it might have been a result of four hours idling in the clubhouse. His worst pitch was a 90-mph fastball Matt Wieters clubbed for a two-run home run into the empty second deck in right field.
That left Hughes with an empty feeling, especially after his best two pitches in the fourth.
“It could have been a lot better,” Hughes said. “I made a dumb pitch to Wieters and lost a little steam at the end.”
The first was Hughes’ lone changeup, which resulted in Wieters striking out for the second out with two on. The second was one of Hughes’ 22 curveballs, which Robert Andino grounded out to third base for the final out -- leaving the bases loaded.
The intensity of the rain held out just long enough for the game to become official around 12:30 a.m.
That was just in time for the rain to pick up intensity and start coming down sideways. Despite the field becoming more of muddy mess, the game went on and not one bit of drying agent could help the playing surface.
And when it was done, the Yankees had achieved three goals -- winning a game, chopping another game off the schedule and avoiding a doubleheader.