Is this heaven?
No, it's Iowa ... and another gut-wrenching loss for the Yankees.
Just when it looked like New York was writing its own Hollywood script at the Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa on Thursday night—popping two clutch home runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a late lead—it was the White Sox that powered their way to an a-maize-ing finish.
The Yankees and White Sox battled it out in a picturesque ballpark erected just paces away from the iconic “Field of Dreams” movie set. It was a memorable event, featuring immaculate sunsets, throwback uniforms, corn stalks as far as they eye could see and a total of eight home runs.
A walk-off two-run home run off the bat of Chicago's shortstop Tim Anderson in the bottom of the ninth, however, brought the Yankees back to reality.
"That ruined it a little bit," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said shortly after the debilitating defeat. "We're here with business to do and these games are huge. So it sucks to walk in here after a tough loss after it looks like you stole it back."
New York was down to its final out in the top of the ninth when Aaron Judge swatted a two-run shot over the right-center field wall, disappearing deep into the bed of corn beneath the park's old-time scoreboard. It was the right fielder's second home run of the night, both majestic blasts soaring the other way.
Chicago's closer Liam Hendriks attempted to settle down, clinging to a one-run lead, but Giancarlo Stanton changed the game with one swing. On the first pitch he saw—after a two-out walk from Joey Gallo—the slugger clobbered a two-run homer of his own, just clearing the wall in left.
Yankees players flooded out of the first-base dugout, celebrating what had the makings of one of their best wins during this roller-coaster campaign. After all, the Yankees were down by as many as four runs earlier in the contest. Starter Andrew Heaney continued to struggle, serving up three home runs over his first four innings of work (the second time in his three starts with the Bombers that he's accomplished that undesirable feat).
Boone then summoned left-hander Zack Britton out of the bullpen, seeking to shut the door with closer Aroldis Chapman still on the injured list. After a one-out walk, Anderson barreled up a heater in his wheelhouse, depositing a game-winning blast to the opposite field.
The 2021 Yankees are accustomed to these kinds of dispiriting losses. Just in the last few months, there have been several occasions where New York has found new ways to blow ballgames, plummeting to different variations of rock bottom.
Considering they clawed their way back in the ninth, a testament to this team's resiliency in the face of adversity, Boone and his players agreed that this latest blow is nowhere near the other brutal losses they've experienced this summer.
"Doesn't rank up top, seeing how we came back and almost gave them a terrible loss, but yeah, you never want the game to finish like that," Stanton told reporters. "But we can still get the series. We need the series."
The result certainly stings, but with an off day on Friday—before finishing the rest of a three-game set with the White Sox on the South Side—the Bombers have a shot to get off the mat and fight back, as they've done all year long.
As much as walking back to the clubhouse processing yet another walk-off loss puts a damper on a special evening in Iowa, Boone said he'll still never forget the rest of Thursday's festivities.
"That was as special and breathtaking a setting for a baseball game that I can ever remember being a part of," Boone explained. "Everything was great all day. They obviously paid attention to every detail to make it so special. I would say when we took the field, walked out through the corn field, seeing the stadium, just the perfection of the night, Kevin Costner standing out there in short center field, that's probably a moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life."
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