Wednesday, June 22, 2005


A rookie pitcher issuing seven walks and yielding four runs in under five innings. A pitcher with a 5.10 lifetime ERA going seven solid, allowing a mere two hits. A late inning rally that falls just short. These kind of games happen, and as long as you can shake them off and move on, it’s just one botched game out of 162.

It becomes immeasurably easier to shake off a loss like Monday’s when your ace is on the hill the following night. And when your ace is Randy Johnson, there should be even less worries. And when your opponents are the lowly Devil Rays, you can even ditch the handkerchief you use to wipe your brow.

The Yankees seemingly had the same thoughts coming into last night’s game, and it showed. I’m sitting here during the bottom of the fourth, inexplicably still watching this painful, painful game. And Giambi just popped out to the warning track in right. Way to get all of that one, buddy.

That was what I was writing in the early innings of last night’s – is there even a word in the English language that quite captures the essence of last night? If I had begun my writing after the game, it might have looked a little like this:

To: Randy Johnson

Good for one free pass.

Derek Jeter, Ruben Sierra, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, Robinson Cano, Mike Stanton, Buddy Groom, Tom Gordon, and to a lesser extent, Tony Womack and Jason Giambi

To attempt in depth commentary on this game would be to be futile; what can be said about a 13-run inning other than “wow, great effin job!” You can talk about proving something to themselves all you want, but I believe it’s not even that complex.

It’s more like this inning was the culmination of early season failures to come back in the late innings. Instead of nabbing two or three runs late in the game over the course of April, May, and most of June, the Yanks just put all that comeback luster from last year and jammed it into what will prove to be the most gratifying half inning of baseball this year. If only we could have done this against Boston.

I’ve been on the record this season saying that I don’t like to get excited about a breakout performance, mainly because the Yanks have had a tendency to go and botch subsequent games. This, however, is a completely different story. A-Rod didn’t pummel the ball over the wall three times back in April when the Yanks were down in the late innings.

The Yanks actually scored 13 in an inning earlier in the season against the D-Rays, but that rally came in the second inning with the score tied at zero. True, the Yanks ended up needing those runs, as my favorite disappearing act Jaret Wright allowed eight of his own in five and a third innings. But that performance obviously isn’t to the same caliber.

If I was sitting with the guys on Baseball Tonight, my “Most Important Thing” from last night would be the way the Yanks never went away. Even as Johnson and Proctor allowed 10 effin runs before three and a half innings were played, the Yanks continued to chip away. One in the second, one in the third, and four in the fifth kept the Yanks within striking distance, whereas without those runs, the eighth inning might not have turned out like it did. So major credit is due to Bernie, Sheff, and Jete, who provided the scores that kept the fire burning in the dugout.

If I have one complaint (other than Randy – he has his one free pass), it’s Tanyon Sturtze. I’ve been raving about this guy all year, and I’m in no way off his bandwagon, but I’m just disappointed that he gave up a run that put the D-Rays up 11-7. The team had worked so hard to get themselves back in the game, and even Stanton and Groom didn’t allow a run. So it’s a major disappointment to me that my boy Tanyon put the team further out of it. Earlier in the season, that may have been the final nail in the coffin for these guys.

Great win for the Yanks. Now go and follow it up with a couple more against this pathetic, pathetic team. There’s just no more excuse for losing to a team that is being managed by a guy so obviously trying to get fired.