Next to Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui has been the Yankees' most valuable offensive player this season. Godzilla offers a wonderful stylistic contrast to Sheffield's hyper-active batting stance. For the most part, Matsui is as still and calm as Sheffield is active. Matsui gently rocks back and forth, slightly lifting his front leg, as he waits for each pitch. His shoulders twitch as if he were a hippo reflexively shooing away the little birds that rest on its back. If not for these small movements you'd think Matsui was as dead as a Frankenstein monster.
Matsui came up with the winning hit for the Yankees last night when he slapped Bob Wickman's 1-0 pitch into left field for an RBI single. Derek Jeter led off the ninth in a 4-4 game with a walk. He then swiped second as Gary Sheffield struck out and wasted little time stealing third as well. Alex Rodriguez had three hits on the night and now had a beautiful opportunity to put the Yankees ahead with a fly ball to the outfield. But Rodriguez tapped a pitch low and away weakly to short for the second out of the inning. Rodriguez's frustration hitting with runners in scoring position continues. I'm certain that nobody is more aware of this than Rodriguez himself. Interestingly, Matsui hit virtually the same pitch--low and away--but drove it to the opposite field for a single.
Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 43rd save of the year--oh those Deomocratic ground balls---while Tom Gordon got the win. The Indians have now dropped nine games in a row. Javier Vazquez allowed four runs with two out in the third inning, but he pitched a decent game. Along with the other Yankee pitchers Vazquez simply isn't striking men out this year, but he was able to keep them in the game, pitching seven innings. For the second-straight night, the Yankees appeared poised to blow the game open. Kenny Lofton was the hard-luck loser last night, striking the ball hard to the outfield three times with just a sacrifice fly to show for his efforts. (Coco Crisp made a terrific catch in left to rob him of a hit.) Lofton is one hit away from two thousand career hits. So close yet so far...
Regardless, a win is a win, and the Yankees stay six-and-a-half in front of the Red Sox who beat the Jays, 5-4.
Comeback on Hold?
According to Joe Torre, the chances of Jason Giambi returning this year appear to be getting worse. Torre told the Times:
"If he plays, I'm not sure how much of him we're getting, basically. I mean, I hope I'm wrong. I know no more than you do.
"But just the fact that he hasn't been able to do anything significant baseball-wise, and to be ill right now. Again, this is ill like the normal cold and stuff; it just keeps eating up days."
..."It's a setback," Torre said. "He's really drained right now."
"I think the thing that concerns me is to be able to get him enough work where he can rehab, and now that seems to be out the window. It doesn't seem that there'll be any games left to rehab at."
This is a bummer, man.
And Now For Somethign Completely Different...
Truman Capote wrote a scathing profile on Marlon Brando for The New Yorker in 1957 called, "The Duke in his Domain." I read it years ago and was telling a friend about it yesterday. It was a memorable, finely observed piece. So I googled it and it turns out that The New Yorker has put it up on the Net, most likely in honor of Brando's recent passing. If you are a Brando fan, it is a must-read. I don't know how long it will be posted, so take a peak while it's up.