Five hours and ten minutes after the first pitch of Game 2 of the American League Championship series, Angels second baseman Macier Izturis threw a ball past shortstop Erick Aybar and Jerry Hairston trotted home with the winning run of a 4-3, 13-inning Yankee victory.
Those are the salient details of how the game ended, but it's hard to imagine that people will remember this game for anything other than Alex Rodriguez as time passes.
The Yankee third baseman continued to drive nails into the coffin of his reputation as a player who fades in the clutch with a game-tying, 11th inning home run off of Angels closer Brian Fuentes. That rescued the Yankees after they blew a 2-0 lead much, much earlier in the contest and allowed the game to continue long enough for the Yankees to capitalize on yet another Angels mistake.
Hairston was on second and Robinson Cano was on first with one out in the 13th when Melky Cabrera hit a ground ball deep into the hole between first and second. Izturis's best play was getting the out at first, but he tried for the more dramatic play and threw the ball away allowing Hairston to score and, a few minutes later, get his first taste of the whipped cream pies that have become the trademark of these cardiac Yankees.
It's a brutal loss for the Angels, because they had avoided the big mistakes that sunk them on Friday night until that point. They couldn't capitalize on three Yankee errors, A.J. Burnett's wildness and two situations with cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero up with the bases loaded. Now they're in a big hole, even with the warmer climes and friendlier confines of Angel Stadium waiting for them on Monday afternoon. The team that keeps making errors doesn't have much margin for any more at this point.
The route to that fateful play was chockful of everything that makes a game worthy of the classic tag. For one thing, it started three and a half hours before Saturday Night Live and ended 10 minutes later than the comedy program went off the air. Great pitching from Angels starter Joe Saunders and Mariano Rivera, controversial umpiring calls, failed opportunities to win the game on both sides, a driving rainstorm and, once again, Rodriguez extending his magical postseason run.
He's been so hot and gotten so many big hits that the fact that he popped out with the bases loaded in the 12th is little more than an afterthought. He's saved the Yankees three times so far this postseason and is as big a reason as any other for why the team is two wins away from their first World Series since 2003.