I thought we were done. I slumped deep into my seat, stunned by the turn of events. I had come into the playoffs knowing that this particular bullpen would cost us at least a game, but I did not expect it to be elimination Game 5 of the AL fucking CS, and I did not expect it to be Darren Oliver. (Then again, perhaps I had sealed Oliver’s fate over a month ago, when I proclaimed him to be the ‘only reliever I trusted in the bullpen,’ which he quickly followed up by blowing consecutive games on the ensuing road trip). But after the Yankees had put up a 6-spot in a matter of what seemed like seconds, I imagine I had a look on my face like someone had run over my dog, because that was how I felt. The guy next to me turned, thunderstix in hand, and yelled, “Hey bro, it’s all right!” – he still believed. At that moment, I didn’t. We were done for. This was the season.
A one-run lead, Brian Fuentes, and Damon-Teixeira-A-Rod. The heart of the lineup. I had realized that this would be the matchup as soon as the top half of the 8th ended, and while the Angels threatened to add some insurance runs, it was inevitable. I stood for the entirety of the 9th – we all did. I screamed more obscenities aloud than ever before in my life. I called Fuentes a piece of shit, I urged him to throw a fucking strike, and I pleaded for just one more out. But with the bases loaded, and two strikes on Swisher, the possibility flashed very vividly through my mind that all this could be about to get taken away. That, one strike away, Nick Swisher was going to rip my heart out. But he didn’t. We survived. And Game 6 is no longer ‘if necessary.’ Because improbably, impossibly, inconceivably, it is. But regardless of what happens back in the Bronx, it was the latest in a long line of reminders as to the character of this team, this organization. For a brief moment Thursday night, I had forgotten.