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One thought flashed through the mind when the umpire raised his right hand to punch out Nick Swisher in the bottom of the 11th inning on Monday night: Wow, that was a really fun baseball game to watch.
Even though it was generally a bad night for the Yankees that could wind up being a really bad night if Mark Teixeira's calf injury turns out to be serious, Toronto's 8-7 win was a lot more enjoyable to sit through than your average regular season baseball game. Baseball's funny that way.
It had a little bit of everything, from pitchers getting hit by batted balls to a slew of home runs to blown saves on both sides. Losing a game isn't enough to make you sorry you got to see Derek Jeter tie the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium, nor does losing make Colby Rasmus' moon shot off Rafael Soriano to put the Jays up with two outs in the top of the ninth any less impressive.
Had it been a playoff game, it would be one that you talk about for a long time after it concludes. And as a narrative, you can't ask for a better ending than a pinch runner for the Blue Jays taking advantage of Teixeira's injury to score the winning run on a groundout to third base.
Does Mike McCoy score if Teixeira is the one throwing home after a force at first base? Perhaps, but Eric Chavez's inability to come up with a pickoff throw allowed McCoy to get to third in the first place and that's a play that Teixeira probably makes.
And it is his injury that makes it necessary to kinda whisper the fact that Monday night's game was so thoroughly enjoyable that the result of it doesn't matter all that much. Losing the game is fine (the Rays lost in Texas), but losing Teixeira, who pulled up lame while scoring on one of the three Yankee hits off the bodies of Blue Jays players, for a week or two could slow the Yankees' roll a bit more than you'd like.
It won't shut things down, not as long as Jeter, Swisher and Robinson Cano are hitting, but it will make life a bit more difficult in the Bronx at a moment where you'd much prefer that things started getting easier. The easy patch of the schedule seems to have passed by a while ago, more like a week of R&R away from the war zone than a September cruise through the twilight of the regular season.
So it goes in baseball, where every season must unfold at its own pace. And if that pace involves more games like the one Monday night, injuries excepted, that will be just fine.