Diamondbacks starter Dontrelle Willis walked seven batters before recording the eighth out of the game on Wednesday night, the kind of performance that's usually a harbinger of a Yankee game that isn't worth watching past the fourth or fifth inning.
Arizona pitchers wound up walking 13 batters overall, but the Yankees must have felt guilty about getting so much help because they kept handing back scoring opportunities. They made three outs on the bases, each one more inexplicable than the one before, with two of them playing a role in the five total double plays the Diamondbacks turned against them over the course of the night.
Even with all that embarrassing play, the Yankees still would have cruised if not for a pitching staff that was equally inept. Bad Javier Vazquez made the trip out to Arizona and cooled off his recent hot streak by allowing four runs in five innings. Damaso Marte had a wild pitch, a balk and two walks in his inning of work and even the mighty Mariano loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Perhaps that was because he was forced to hit in the top of the inning, always an entertaining sight, but it looked like he was out of gas. One should never doubt Mariano, though, because he got three outs without giving back the run Granderson got in the top of the inning. Two cutters on the hands forced easy popups and then he struck out the whiff-happy Mark Reynolds to end the game. It was a classic Rivera escape and, the location forces us to point out, one he couldn't pull off on that fateful November night in 2001.
That meant it was a 6-5 win and, thanks to the kindness of old friends and Padres, another game added to their lead in the AL East. The Padres banged around James Shields and held on late for a win in Tampa while Jason Giambi earned himself one last Bronx cheer by taking Jonathan Papelbon deep into the Colorado night for a walkoff home run.
The sight of Papelbon shuffling off the mound in defeat is enough beauty for one night. Anything more would make grown men weep and with a series against Joe Torre coming up this weekend we'll have more than our fill of that soon enough.