The crowd rose in unison, thinking this was finally it.
Alex Rodriguez had gotten a hold of one, based on the unmistakable sound that emanates from a bat when a player puts good wood on the ball. He followed its flight before moving toward first base, only to see leftfielder Chris Heisey line it up a couple of steps on to the warning track after the ball had been knocked down some by the wind. Heisey's catch ended any thoughts about Rodriguez's shot in the eighth with a man on first landing in the stands and turning a 3-2 Yankees deficit into a one-run advantage.
Just another frustrating moment in a season full of them for Rodriguez and the Yankees' struggling offense, which could not get it done once again Sunday in a 5-2 loss to the Reds at Yankee Stadium.
"That's his normal reaction to a home run and it's just the way things are right now," Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. "As bad as we feel, it's probably not that bad right now. It feels tough, and there is some frustration, and there are some guys disappointed. But our guys are our guys, and we are going to keep throwing them out there, and they'll keep trying to put together good ABs.
"It's not like anybody's quitting. It's not like anybody's not giving the effort they need. It's just the way it goes."
The Yankees never got that big hit Sunday, going 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven men on base. They've mustered just six hits in their last 59 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"Yeah, that's what it seems like," Derek Jeter said. "That's what's happening. That's what happens in the course of the season, man. Sometimes it's like everybody is hitting. Other times, it seems like nobody is hitting. Right now, we've just got to keep battling and hopefully break out of it soon."
Perhaps no one typified the Yankees' problems at the plate more than Rodriguez Sunday. Rodriguez, who has not homered in 44 at-bats, followed up Saturday's 0-for-4 performance with another 0-for-4 and five men left on base. His average fell to .270.
He swung at the first pitch in each of his final three at-bats, drawing a smattering of boos. Against starter Johnny Cueto, Rodriguez popped to right with runners on first and second in the third and flew to right following Robinson Cano's leadoff double in the sixth. Against Logan Ondrusek in the eighth, he hit that shot against the wind to the track in left with the tying run on first.
"Those are all fastballs," Long said. "They are all good pitches to hit. They are all strikes. We talked about one thing, and that was moving the ball to left-centerfield because it looked like he was inside-outing it a little bit. So he makes the adjustments, he crushes the ball and you've got nothing to show for it."
That's going to have to change soon. Otherwise, the frustration will only grow in intensity.
"We hit some balls good," Jeter said. "Al hit a ball that probably would have gone out if it wasn't for the wind . . . During this stretch, you have to look for some sort of positive, you know what I mean? We are still having some good at-bats. We just have to put together some hits."