NEW YORK (AP) -What started with the Bambino ended with the Giambino.
crushed a home run in the seventh inning Thursday, it appeared all that was left for Yankee Stadium was its funeral.
Now, after New York's 3-2 victory over the
in Boston's final trip to the ballpark, the Yankees cling to hope, perhaps deluding themselves from the inevitable conclusion
that seemingly lies ahead.
''The last time we play the
in this Yankee Stadium, and the battles we've been through, this should end like this,'' Giambi said.
His two-run homer was Ruthian, clanging off the front of the black batter's eye in center field and tying the score. The alternately
maligned and embraced slugger followed with a winning single in the ninth, preventing Boston from sweeping the three-game
series and dropping New York so far back that a recovery would appear impossible, even to the most devoted of the pinstriped
New York players sprinted from their dugout, a bit more slowly than Usain Bolt's dashes at the Olympics last week, and mobbed
Giambi. Perhaps there was a similar scene on April 18, 1923, when
opened the stadium with a three-run, third-inning homer into the right-field bleachers.
Still, chances are there won't be any more October glory in the 85-year-old ballpark, no more of those glorious afternoons
when the angled autumn sun created a shadow that crept slowly from the first-base stands and extended into the outfield.
New York is six games back of Boston in the AL wild-card race with 29 to play, and these Yankees have shown no sign of spurting
''It's certainly brutal baseball right now,'' general manager Brian Cashman said before the game.
So much has gone wrong. Co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner summed it up after Wednesday's loss when he said, ''The bottom line
is, they s---,'' using a word more forceful than stink.
He, his family and advisers must put out a winner, especially heading into the $1.3 billion palace the team moves into across
the street next year, one with $2,500 front-row seats, martini bars and a cash flow that has the other 29 clubs filled with
''It's very hard to accept,'' Cashman said. ''No one likes to deal with the losing, and we're losing right now, and we feel
we're better than this. But at some point you are what your record is until you prove otherwise.''
Cashman doesn't blame manager
, in his first year as
's successor. Girardi has been perennially optimistic, sounding a bit like Charlie Brown lecturing Linus and Lucy: His daily
message to players and the fans is that if today's game isn't a win, surely the one after will be.
Opponents shook in their spikes for much of the past 85 years at the mere mention of the mighty Yankees. Not this year, when
months of monotonous mediocrity scared only the frustrated fans, not the curious tourists in the third-base dugout craning
their necks for one last look at the old cathedral.
A crowd of 55,092 turned out as New York finished 484-285-4 in the regular season at Yankee Stadium against the
. (In addition, New York has beaten Boston in six of 10 postseason games in the Bronx.) The fans got a few more chances to
, who struck out three times and fouled out with runners at the corners in the sixth. He saved his best shots for the bat
rack, whacking it about 10 times with his Louisville Slugger following the popout.
''We haven't performed. The bottom line is we're not getting what we need to from everybody, that we expected,'' Cashman said.
''A lot of people deserve better, fans included.''
There's no first-place fight for the Yankees this year, and even the wild card-leading
are chasing - ain't this still hard to believe! - Tampa Bay.
So many things have happened when the
and Yankees met here.
made his major league debut on April 20, 1939. Ten years later, the Yankees beat the
on the final two days of the season, catapulting them to the first of a record five straight World Series titles.
in 1951, and
did the same in 1983.
broke Ruth's season home run record with No. 61 off Boston's
on Oct. 1, 1961, and Boston's
separated his shoulder during a brawl on May 20, 1976.
manager Grady Little watched as
blew a 5-2, eighth-inning lead in Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series, and the Yankees won 6-5 on
's homer in the 11th against
. A year later, Boston became the first team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit, routing the Yankees 10-3 in Game
7 en route to the first Red Sox World Series title since 1918.
''There's been blowouts. There's been close games we've won, close games we've lost,'' Boston captain
said. ''There's been some heartbreaking moments, and there's been some pretty joyful moments.''
was looking forward to his team's first trip to the new Yankee Stadium early next May. Having played for both teams,
just wanted to savor the moment.
''It was a great way to end it,'' he said.