In a 14-inning game that lasted nearly six hours, Joe Girardi put everything in the hands — more specifically the feet — of a rookie pinch-runner who, on what should have been a game-winning hit, missed third base and almost cost the New York Yankees a win in the craziest game of the season.
Melky Mesa's base-running fail almost cost the Yankees a game that could have turned an improbable comeback against the Oakland A's into an ugly loss — all in his major league debut.
Mesa, stood at second base with the score tied at 9-9 when Alex Rodriguez slapped what looked like the game-winning hit through the infield. Mesa went to round third but missed the bag by about a foot but the rookie had the sense to turn back and get back to the base.
After his Yankee teammates leaped out of the dugout with their arms raised in victory and A-Rod clapping his hands thinking he had the game-winning hit, Mesa sheepishly stood at third base when they all realized the game wasn't over because of his flub. That 12 inches probably felt like a mile to the kid.
Luckily, for the Yankee, Girardi can file this base running gaffe under "W" for We can laugh about it now thanks to the generosity of the A's defense. Mesa was thrown out in a force at home plate in the next at bat, but A's first baseman Brandon Moss failed to handle Eduardo Nunez's two-out grounder allowing Ichiro Suzuki to score for the Yankees 10-9 win.
It was the wildest game of a normally eventful New York Yankees campaign. The fans who toughed out the marathon contest were treated to everything from missed calls at first, collisions at home plate, comebacks by both teams and finally the dramatic moment that could have defined the 25-year old Mesa's Yankee career.
Luckily for the embarrassed rookie, the Yankees won and Mesa even got the ultimate form of Yankees absolution — a hug from Derek Jeter.
After the game, Girardi smoothed things over by praising Mesa for having the sense to get back to third base and not getting tagged out.
"That would have been a tough one for the kid to swallow," Girardi said of Mesa. "A lot of the guys gave him hugs. We told him keep your head up.
"It just happened in his debut. He won't forget it."