In Jason Giambi’s final three at-bats of Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates, he was booed before he even stepped to the plate, but once in the batter’s box on the final at-bat, everything changed. Giambi knocked a game-winning home run into the upper deck in right field and knocked some confidence into Yankees fans.
In the three games in which he has played since that 10th-inning blast, Giambi has hit .250 with two walks and three runs scored. But it’s more the little things he has been doing at the plate and in the field that has helped gain the apparent acceptance of the fans.
Although his line yesterday read 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, Giambi — who left without talking to the media — contributed more. He reached base in his first three at-bats, via a single in the second, a walk in the fourth and a wild pitch after striking out in the fifth.
After his walk in the fourth, he helped the Yankees start a rally when he noticed Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was playing behind him.
Manager Joe Torre said Giambi looked into the dugout to see what to do, and Torre gave him the go-ahead to make the decision. With two strikes on Bernie Williams, Giambi decided to run and hope Williams hit the ball. Williams did — into the hole created when shortstop Neifi Perez broke to cover second. Giambi ended up on third base and scored the tying run on a single by the next batter, Robinson Cano.
“It worked out perfectly,” Torre said.
“It was just a little thing, but it turned into a big thing for us today.”
Another little thing Giambi did was stretch himself into a split on a third-inning ground ball second baseman Cano charged before throwing a bit off line. He also ran hard to an open first base after Cubs catcher Michael Barrett was unable to handle a third strike in the fifth. And in the sixth, Jeromy Burnitz lined a rocket down the first-base line, but an outstretched Giambi knocked the ball down and held Burnitz to a single. The ball caromed into foul territory, leaving the opportunity for fans to let Giambi know what they thought of him.
Instead of booing, they cheered for the effort.
Farrell neglected to mention the standing ovation Giambi received for tying his own shoes.