From the comforts of his manager's office, with its wide desk and leather couch, Joe Girardi sat on Thursday night and watched about five minutes of baseball. Perhaps still simmering a bit from his ejection only moments earlier, Girardi watched as Robinson Cano laced a walk-off single through the left side of the infield, and as Hideki Matsui motored around from second base to score the winning run.
Then Girardi leapt out of his chair and hurled his pen across the room.
"I'm not so sure I am decompressed yet," he said just after the game.
That might take some time, considering the magnitude of his argument, and the depth of the slump that had been vexing his Yankees. But now with a well-pitched and downright emotional 2-1 win over the Orioles in tow, perhaps Girardi can finally relax.
Because goodness knows he didn't on Thursday night.
Stuck in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Girardi lost his cool -- and his seat in the dugout -- when Jason Giambi struck out with one down and Matsui standing on first base. Orioles reliever Jim Johnson had delivered a pitch high and inside to Giambi, who, with two strikes, couldn't yank his bat entirely out of the way. Home-plate umpire Chris Guccione didn't think so, at least, ruling that the ball skimmed the knob of Giambi's bat and deflected into catcher Ramon Hernandez's glove, good for a strikeout.
That's when Girardi stormed onto the field and engaged Guccione in a lengthy argument. Within moments, he was ejected, throwing his hat on the ground and kicking it toward the dugout. Then he picked it up, kicked some dirt, and began arguing all over again.
"Maybe that was the little spark that we need to get us going," Giambi said. "We've been playing good baseball, but not great baseball."
What followed, coincidence or not, was great baseball.
Bobby Abreu, batting with two outs, took a five-pitch walk to advance Matsui to second base, and then Cano drilled an inside fastball into left field to win the game.
"This means a lot," Cano said. "Every time I get a hit to help the team win, it means a lot to me. Because it's not about just the numbers. It's about winning."