Since his family defected from Cuba Jose Contreras has pitched five times. With the exception of the disaster at Shea Stadium, he has pitched well, as he did again yesterday in Tampa Bay. The true test for Contreras will come Sunday night when he will face the Red Sox. If he pitches well in Boston, it will be hard not to give Contreras props. According to the New York Times:
The Yankees gave no thought to juggling the rotation so Contreras would not have to pitch against the Red Sox, a team that usually hammers him.
"A month ago, we would have made every effort to avoid that start," Stottlemyre said. "Every time we play them, it's not just another game. But it's just another start for him."
..."He's ready for it," Torre said. "If he's not ready now, I'm not sure he'll ever be."
Gary Sheffield had the big hit--a two-run homer to left field--which put the Bombers ahead for good. After Derek Jeter was struck in the hand by a pitch from Victor Zambrano (initial x-rays were negative, but Jeter eventually had the leave the game), Sheffield followed and nearly twisted himself into the ground swinging at the first pitch. Then he launched a long line drive foul before Zambrano left a fastball out over the plate. Pi-yah. Though he is still hurting is there anyone Yankee fans would rather see in a big spot this year than Sheffield?
Mariano Rivera recorded another save as the Yanks remain seven games ahead of the Red Sox who beat the Mariners in Seattle yesterday afternoon. Boston returns home for two games against the Orioles (Pedro pitches tonight) while the Yanks are in the Bronx tonight and tomorrow to square off against Carlos Delgado and the Blue Jays for the first time this season.
There is no progress to report on the Randy Johnson front. Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo is vacationing in Italy and won't return until next Tuesday. Nothing is expected to shake down until he returns to the states. But as Joel Sherman reports this morning--with a helpful hand from Will Carroll--even if the Yankees do land the Big Unit, it doesn't mean that they will necessarily win the World Serious.
p.s. Here is part two of the Athletics Nation interview with Michael Lewis.