It was also an emotional pick-me-up after the gut-wrenching moment in the third, when Huff lay limp on the mound after the A-Rod hit struck him in the head and bounced into right field for an RBI double. Later, the Indians would learn the heartening news that Huff hadn't lost consciousness or memory or suffered any brain damage as a result of the blow, but it was nonetheless a scary moment at the time.
"It was a very eventful day," manager Manny Acta said. "After all, it was a great ballgame. I'm very proud of the kids. They could have put their head down, but they kept fighting."
Rather than go down quietly after the loss of Huff, the Indians erased a 3-0 deficit in the fourth, when Mark Grudzielanek scored a run on a single and Matt LaPorta knocked in two on a double off CC Sabathia. LaPorta, of course, was the Indians' prized acquisition when they traded Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008.
"It was interesting [facing CC]," LaPorta said. "He's obviously a great pitcher. It was fun."
Two other acquisitions from a deal involving a Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee trade imports Lou Marson and Jason Donald, would step up and have some fun later in this game. But first, the Indians fell drearily behind when the Yankees put together a six-run fourth off Aaron Laffey and Hector Ambriz. The two teams traded runs in the fifth, so it was a 10-4 deficit that the Tribe carried into the sixth.
In Sabathia's sixth and final inning of work, Marson doubled home LaPorta to make it 10-5. But the big inning would come off the Yankees' bullpen in the seventh. Austin Kearns got it going in earnest when he singled home a run off Damaso Marte, who had replaced an injured David Robertson.
That was all for Marte. Yanks skipper Joe Girardi, managing this game as if it were the seventh game of the World Series, summoned Joba Chamberlain with two on and two out, and the move backfired. Grudzielanek singled off Chamberlain to make it 10-7. LaPorta then walked to load the bases, and the Indians were really in striking distance now.
Up came Marson, and he sent a double to right-center field that kicked off the base of the wall and scored a pair to pull the Indians within a run. It was the third double and third RBI of the game for Marson, who doubled his RBI total for the season.
"It feels good that the bottom of the order finally came through," Marson said. "It's something we want to keep going."
They kept it going, all right. Donald followed Marson's two-base knock with a two-run double down the line in right to give the Indians their first lead. It then became a 12-10 game when Trevor Crowe singled off Chamberlain to score Donald.
That was a lot of production from the more youthful members of the lineup.
"Exciting," Acta said. "It was exciting to see Donald, Marson, LaPorta and Crowe contribute with great at-bats. That's what we're envisioning here. All those kids blending and meshing to be able to fight against a good club like that one."
Not content, the Indians added yet another run in the eighth, when the not-as-youthful Russell Branyan hit a solo shot off Chad Gaudin that landed in the second deck in right.
Where did all this offense come from? Pent-up aggression, perhaps. The Indians were 12th in the league in runs scored, with 175, coming in, and in this win they became the last team in the Majors to crack the 10-run plateau in a single game.
Another explanation is that the Bronx sometimes brings out the best in the Tribe bats. This is, after all the same place where they scored 22 runs (albeit in a different building) on Aug. 21, 2004, and again on April 18 of last year.
But the bats couldn't do it alone. The Indians also needed their pitching staff to quiet the madness that surrounded this marathon affair. Huff, Laffey and Ambriz all labored to some degree, but the Indians began to settle things down when Rafael Perez tossed a perfect sixth. Once the lead was in tow, Chris Perez preserved it in the seventh and eighth.
In the ninth, Kerry Wood set out to nail down his second save. He had two out and two on when he served up an RBI double to Derek Jeter, and it seemed the Yanks might rally for the last laugh. But Wood struck out Nick Swisher to end an eventful day in the Indians' favor.