Roger Angell embraced the Yankees' early-season struggles as a welcome surprise. In the latest Talk of the Town (peace to TFD for the link), Angell notes:
This was miserable or delightful, depending on where your loyalties lay, but most of all it was weird. It was glorious...The Yankees’ losing streak suspended all this, for a while at least, and what was refreshing about it was that the Yankees were suddenly so bad, at the plate and afield, that they seemed removed from the games, spooked or laid low not by the opposing pitcher or sluggers but by some cosmic change of terms. They were playing in a cartoon or on an asteroid landscape.
Of course, the Yankees 8-4 come-from-behind-win against the A's last Tuesday changed the team's fortunes (at least for the moment). They've won six straight, and for Angell, it's back to business as usual, in which "Confirmation replaces expectation at these levels of sport, and fun feels prearranged." However discouraged, Angell does a nifty job of describing how the Yankees got their groove back:
The double, by pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra, curved sharply toward foul ground in deep left field but then changed its mind and hit the line instead—a big hit, and a smile at last from the great and enigmatically difficult game. The Yanks won again the next two nights, resuming their 2004 campaign with a three-game sweep. Derek Jeter was the last to leave the isolation ward of the April epidemic. Hitless in his previous thirty-two at-bats, he led off the Yankees’ first inning of the Oakland finale by smashing Barry Zito’s first pitch deep into the left-field stands, circled the bases, and touched home, restored at last to the humdrum.
Ah, it could be worse. Just ask Murray Chass. Now, it's Boston's turn to struggle, as the Red Sox offense has not been able to get a clutch hit since last week. Curt Schilling lost a tough one, 2-1 to the Indians last night in Cleveland.
The Yankees are in Oakland for a three-game series starting tonight. Jose Contreras looks to build on his first decent outing of the year; he'll face Mark Mulder again. The jury is out until the big Cuban can string together a couple of good starts. Meanwhile, Joe Torre thinks that Gary Sheffield is due to break out shortly. According to Newsday:
"Sheffield is going to hurt somebody," Joe Torre said after the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Royals Sunday. "He's swinging it. He's swinging it hard, like he's always done. He's just not able to center it right now."