Walk-off loss in Field of Dreams game 'ruined it a little bit' as Yankees must regroup
DYERSVILLE, Ia. — With his flip-flops on and his hair still dripping wet, Andrew Heaney shifted uncomfortably as the question rolled in. Asked if he could appreciate any part of Thursday's grand scene despite such a demoralizing ending, the Yankees pitcher kept it brief.
"Not yet," Heaney said.
Heaney was long gone by the time Tim Anderson's walk-off homer sailed into the Iowa corn for an improbable 9-8 White Sox win in the Field of Dreams game — yet the New York southpaw felt the same pain the rest of his Yankees teammates did.
A lackluster performance through eight innings saved by an emphatic Yankees rally, only for Anderson to snatch away victory in the closing moments. What was nearly a riveting win to end a festive day morphed into a crushing loss with little notice. Even these athletes — most conditioned to let go and move on through a 162-game schedule — will take some time to stomach this one.
"Definitely not the way we wanted it to end," said Giancarlo Stanton, who nearly became a Field of Dreams hero with a two-run ninth-inning homer that momentarily handed the Yankees an 8-7 lead. "In general, it was cool to play in this stadium and have that experience. But you definitely want to come out on top on a day like today, though."
A day that began with plenty of Yankees jubilation — as players weaved through the Field of Dreams complex, soaking in every ounce of this historic site — nearly ended the same way. With the offense mostly stalled out following Aaron Judge's mammoth third-inning homer, the Yankees' lumber seemingly awoke just in time before getting out of town.
Judge's second cornfield blast brought New York within a run as one out remained, injecting life into a solid Yankees contingent that had been silent for several innings. A walk to Joey Gallo set the stage for Stanton, who walloped a Liam Hendriks hanger deep into the Iowa night. The chance to steal a monumental victory loomed three outs away.
Instead, it was Anderson who dealt the decisive blow — exposing the Yankees' closer uncertainty with Aroldis Chapman on the shelf. Zack Britton has been better of late, having surrendered just one earned run over his last five appearances, but Thursday's effort looked more like the summer sputters that has his ERA now over 6.30.
"Guys battled back and gave us a chance to do what we did in the top of the ninth," Heaney said, "but obviously, it didn't work out for us."
The change of scenery didn't work for Heaney either, who churned out a third rough start since being traded from the Los Angeles Angels on July 30. Over 15 innings with the Yankees, the left-hander has surrendered 15 hits and 15 runs — five of the former and seven of the latter arriving in Thursday's outing.
Like his big-picture assessment of the day, Heaney kept it simple when asked to pinpoint his pinstripes struggles.
"Giving up a lot of runs and not getting a lot of outs," said Heaney, who served up three more homers to Jose Abreu, Eloy Jiménez and Seby Zavala over five innings. "Not making good pitches.
Call that the understatement of the evening. Two outs from ending a grueling stretch of 17 games in 17 days with a mesmerizing rally, the Yankees trudged into their much-needed off day on a disheartening note.
The Yankees still went 11-6 during that stretch and sit two games out of the second wild-card spot (entering Friday's games), but it's clear significant momentum was left out in the Dyersville corn.
"We'll move on from this one like we have all throughout, try and rest up on this off day and come ready to roll on Saturday to try to grab another one," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
"That ruined it a little bit, honestly. 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 looked like you stole it back. But that said, that was as special and breathtaking a setting for a baseball game that I can ever remember being part of."
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.