Watching the top of the ninth inning last night, one thing stood out from the body language displayed by Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees entered the inning trailing 3-1 and three outs away from a dreary loss to the Orioles. Get those three outs and people start wondering what the deal is, what’s wrong with this team and will they collapse.
Seeing Jorge Posada get a single on an 11-pitch at-bat you start thinking it might be possible. The permutations of who is coming up start entering your mind and the fact that you need a few more of those start creeping in.
Then Derek Jeter looks at a called strike three and you deflate a little. Curtis Granderson picks you up slightly by dropping a single into left field. After all, who wouldn’t feel good having the go-ahead run up in Mark Teixeira followed by Alex Rodriguez?
Teixeira created that moment for Rodriguez by fouling out to third base and up comes A-Rod.
Rodriguez always has an intense look in his face when he strides to the plate but in that situation, he had a different look.
That look was this: "There’s no way we’re losing this game" and maybe there are a few expletives thrown in the middle of that phrase.
You start worrying when he gets down 1-2 but when a close ball two goes in your favor, you feel good.
Maybe you’re not expecting a three-run home run good, but you're definitely confident that the line will continue moving and that somehow the game will have a bottom of the ninth.
Rodriguez flashed a little grin after ball two as the Orioles anticipated a win and then let the bat do the smiling by depositing the fastball well over the left wall.
It was similar to what he showed in the postseason and maybe it was the little kick-start to get the Yankees out of this recent malaise that has put them on the wrong end of late-inning dramatics.
To steal a line from another manager, it was "Gangster". It was what you envisioned Don Mattingly doing all the time when you hung that "Hitman" poster over your bed as a child. It was everything you envisioned when your team needed rescuing from surefire doom and gloom.
Having a player capable of producing those moments, the pendulum swings from doom to elation in a matter of seconds.
And when Mariano Rivera closes it out, you do your own little shake.
It does not matter whether you are in the living room, the stands, at the bar, in the car, on the train or anywhere else. This was a huge deal and the ending was the perfect one.