Lennon: Posada's legs - no kidding - help Yankees stay alive
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Maybe Jorge Posada was well rested after sitting for A.J. Burnett's start Tuesday night. Or maybe, with the Yankees facing elimination in Game 5 of the ALCS, Posada felt determined to do something, anything, to keep them alive.
It's just that no one in the Stadium expected that something to come on the basepaths, or by testing the strong arm of the Rangers' Jeff Francoeur. But in the second inning Wednesday, Posada went from first to third on Curtis Granderson's bloop single to right and set off a chain reaction that resulted in the Yankees' taking a crucial 3-0 lead en route to the 7-2 win.
Posada should have been out - twice. Rather than throw to the plate, Francoeur targeted Posada, but the ball went wide and skipped past third baseman Michael Young. Already winded, Posada kept going, and fortunately pitcher C.J. Wilson, who was backing up, flung the next throw high over the head of catcher Matt Treanor.
As close as that play was - or would have been - Posada didn't slide to complete the madcap dash around the bases.
"I was telling him to get down," said Brett Gardner, the on-deck hitter who hustled over to advise the plodding Posada. "He was running so fast, he couldn't slide."
Gardner, the Yankees' running specialist, could barely contain a grin in finishing that sentence. But when a reporter suggested Posada would have edged the throw, the smiling Gardner replied, "Sure."
Even Posada, not usually one for joking around at the microphone, cracked himself up a little in reliving the play - especially the shock of seeing Wilson backing up at third. "As soon as the ball got back there, I was like, 'Oh, God,' " Posada said. "I got lucky and he threw it away."
A relieved Posada heard about his baserunning exploits when he returned to the dugout. Amid some Yankees' laughter, it was no surprise that Derek Jeter, his closest friend on the team, "was all over" him, Posada said.
"He looked like Rickey Henderson, running around until they tagged him or he scores," Jeter said. "But he got things going. A lot of times when you're aggressive, you force people into making mistakes."
Posada, who was stuck watching most of Tuesday's loss, was anxious to get involved again. He has learned to accept sitting for Burnett's starts, or at least be diplomatic about it. But as part of the Core Four, he definitely resents the move, and Posada showed yesterday what the Yankees miss in those games.
During that wild second inning, Posada drove in the Yankees' first run with their first hit, a one-out single to left. In the fourth, he doubled. He also helped CC Sabathia get through a treacherous sixth, when Texas scored only once after loading the bases with one out.
"We all know that Jorge brings a lot of intensity to the game every day he plays," Joe Girardi said. "He got us going."
Posada, even after the victory, had the look of someone with unfinished business.
"It's tough to sit down on the bench," he said. "I take a lot of pride in what I do. I have fun playing the game, and I'm still having a lot of fun. Today was a perfect example of that."