I picked up today's game in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Yankees leading 3-1. That means I missed Jorge DePaula's encouraging outing and Matsui's home run. I'm not one for full-game recaps, and you'll those all over the place anyway. So, like I have before, I'll just talk about a few things that made an impression on me as I watched the game.
Expect the timeline to jump around a little bit, because I want to mainly discuss things by player rather than chronologically.
was on the mound for the Devil Rays when I tuned in. He didn't make it through the inning. He walked the first two batters (Giambi and Sheffield) as the announcers noted the unusual amount of movement on his fastball. It actually looked like a screwball sometimes. A few batters and four runs later, Jeter
was up. Toby Hall
set up on the outside corner, which is where the pitch seemed to start out... before turning out to be a hellacious
fastscrewball that hit a Jeter on his left forearm or elbow. There had to be a one-and-a-half or two foot break on that ball. Colome was completely ineffective, but intriguing to watch. He came out of the game after that pitch.
During Gary Sheffield
's at bat in that 6th inning, I wanted to know how his thumb felt. If it was bothering him at all he didn't show it. He took his practice swings normally, shook the bat around while waiting for the pitch like he always does. He didn't look at the hand.
Same inning, Hideki Matsui
got into a two-strike count, then blooped a low-and-away pitch to left center for a hit. That didn't happen much last year, when that situation would invariably produce a grounder to second base.
looked absolutely terrible at the plate in the two at bats I saw. The first one was in the sixth, like everything else I've mentioned so far. He took strike one, then waved at strike two, low and away. Colome (he was still in) then threw the exact same pitch, low and away, and Bush pulled the ball foul. It was a little bouncer that made it about halfway up the third base line. He finished up by hitting a soft grounder to first base. He batted again in the eighth and it was even uglier. He struck out on a curveball that was two feet outside and in the dirt.
Bush did make a great play in the field, at least. Fred McGriff
hit a pretty hard ground ball between first and second. Bush turned immediately and sprinted five steps to his left (counted 'em on the replay) and made a lunge for the ball. He picked it up cleanly, kept his balance well, and got the super-slow McGriff at first base by about three steps. Watching that play, I thought back to Soriano
. Ranging to his left was the one thing I remember him doing pretty well, but I doubt he would have made that play.
had a nondescript base hit in the first at bat of his that I saw - little blooper to center. The good news is that it brought in two runs to give the Yankees a 7-1 lead in the 6th. In the 8th, he clubbed a fat pitch from Lance Carter
off the wall in right field for a double. It was never hard to root for Crosby, and it gets easier every day.
Jose Cruz, Jr.
looked great in the two at bats I saw. In the 7th inning, he worked Felix Heredia
to a 3-1 count, then crushed
a high line drive to left field for what appeared to be a long home run... except that it was a couple of feet foul. He kept himself under control and accepted a walk on the next pitch. In the 9th, he smacked a first-pitch double down the left field line off Mariano Rivera
played 3B from the 7th inning on, but didn't bat. I saw him make three plays, two good and one less so. The first one was nice - hard ground ball to his left, Lamb gets down in the dirt to cut it off. He showed good footwork getting back up and made a good throw to first for the out. Later, he made a bad throw on a routine grounder that pulled Tony Clark
off the bag toward the runner. Clark made the tag. Rocco Baldelli
came up next and hit another grounder right at Lamb, who made a good throw.
How often do you see a first baseman seem to come off the bag early on a throw from an infielder? All the time, right? I have a nagging feeling I've seen a runner called safe for that at some point, but for the life of me I can't remember it. I bring it up because, on that last ground ball to Lamb, Tony Clark clearly
came off the bag before catching the throw. It was blatant.
This is the first-baseman version of the "neighborhood play." You know the neighborhood play - double play ball, middle infielder takes the throw at second base and kind of dances around the bag while firing the ball to first without ever actually putting a foot on second base. I hate the neighborhood play. The rules say you gotta make contact with the bag while holding the ball, so you should have to make contact with the bag while holding the ball. I don't care what base it is, the umpires should call the game based on what actually happens, not on what usually happens or what they expect to happen. End of minor rant.
Baldelli fought the sun on two fly balls in the 7th. It looked like a serious battle each time, and each time he won. On the second one (hit by Mike Vento
) he actually dropped to one knee; it was like the sun exerted downward force on him. Good concentration on both balls.
also made a very nice play on a hard grounder to his left by Posada. Cast your mind back to a pinstriped Tino giving a step and a dive, getting dirty, scrambling to his feet and leading the pitcher to the bag flawlessly. It was just like that, but without the pinstripes.
Mariano closed the game out, and Cruz was the only hitter he didn't embarrass. Julio Lugo
led off, got his bat broken, and whiffed on a cutter. Tino made the final out, getting his bat broken as he grounded out to second base. Aubrey Huff
batted in between and made it through with his bat intact. This may be attributable to the fact that it never left his shoulder as he struck out looking.
and Miguel Cairo
both sat out with minor injuries. Wilson twisted his ankle the other day, and Cairo has a tight hamstring. Each is expected to take a few days off, then get back to work.