Key moment's from Sunday's 7-2 Yankee loss to the Orioles:
Torre's lineup: Joe Torre impresses by giving Bubba Crosby the start in center field. Bubba goes 1 for 3 with seven putouts, catching everything hit near him and firing off an impressive throw to home on a failed attempt to nail Palmeiro scoring in the second. Joe Torre also confounds by not only starting Ruben Seirra over Tino Martinez, thus forcing Giambi into the field where his defense is exploited by the Orioles, but batting Sierra fifth with Jorge Posada hitting seventh. Posada goes 2 for 4 with an RBI single and a should-have-been double. Sierra goes 0 for 3 with a ninth inning walk and a run scored.
Top 2nd: Following a one-out single, Rafael Palmeiro, who has 11 stolen bases in the last six years, steals second on Carl Pavano. He's later driven in by a two-out single by Jay Gibbons.
Top 3rd: Jason Giambi made a great play on a Brian Roberts liner in the top of the first, and now Roberts makes him pay by bunting to him for a base hit. Melvin Mora then hits a foul pop back by the tarp that Giambi loses in the sun. On the next pitch, Mora lines a shot off Pavano's right temple for a base hit, putting runners at the corners and sending Pavano to the hospital with a mild concussion.
Top 5th: With Paul Quantrill on in relief of Tanyon Sturtze, who had gone nine regular season appearances without giving up a run before allowing three on this day, the Orioles have the bases loaded and one out. Jay Gibbons lifts a fly out to Gary Sheffield in medium right field and Miguel Tejada decides to tag and come home. Sheffield fires a strike to home plate in plenty of time to catch Tejada but, as is his wont, Posada catches the ball on the first-base side of home instead of on top of it and misses Tejada, who comes in with a nice evasive head-first slide, when lunging back for the tag. Here's hoping Joe Girardi had a few words with Posada about this play.
Bottom 5th: Trailing 6-0 the Yankees get their first hit off of Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez when Giambi singles to start the inning. Jorge Posada then hits a towering fly that bounces off the right field wall, but thinking the ball was going out, Posada trots to first. Thus instead of men on second and third there are men on the corners, and Bubba Crosby's ensuing groundball becomes a double play rather than a standard groundout that would have left both runners on base to be driven in on the subsequent singles by Tony Womack and Derek Jeter. Giambi does score on the double-play ball, providing small consolation for the foul pop he dropped.
Bottom 9th: Down 7-1, the Yankees stage an unexpected rally against O's closer B.J. Ryan. Ryan dominates lefties (again, they've hit .156/.255/.248--.177 GPA--in 302 at-bats against him over the past three seasons), and does so here, getting Matsui to fly out and striking out Giambi, but in between Sierra walks on four pitches and takes second on defensive indifference. Posada singles Sierra home, amending somewhat for costing his team two runs earlier in the game. Bernie Williams, pinch-hitting for the lefty Crosby, delivers a two-out single, just his second hit of the year, to put runners at first and second with two outs, the Yanks down by five, and lefty Tony Womack due up. Torre lets Womack hit.
Someone please explain to me why he doesn't use Andy Phillips there. Phillips is a right hander and a superior hitter. Either Phillips or Sanchez is available to play second should the Yanks be fortunate enough to tie the game (a real long shot anyway). Meanwhile, Phillips has yet to get an at-bat this season. He isn't just the only Yankee hitter yet to get a chance to hit, he's the only one who hasn't been given a start. This is a tragicomic misuse of a potentially valuable player. Torre has made several comments in the past few days about getting his bench players some action, but seems completely unconcerned about giving any to Phillips, who it appears will be sent back down when Kevin Brown is activated (which expected to happen on schedule for his April 17 start). To me that seems all the more reason to give Phillips a chance here in a game that's all but decided. But noooooooo. Grrrr. Oh yeah, Womack struck out to end the game.
The Yanks now have a record of 3-3, a game ahead of the Red Sox, a game behind the Blue Jays, and tied with the O's and Devil Rays. For what it's worth, one could argue that the Yankees should have been swept in this weekend's series with the Orioles, the only reason they weren't being Tejada missing Matsui's game-tying ground rule double on Saturday. By the same logic, Alex Rodriguez screwing up a potential game-ending double play, then failing to even throw out Mueller out at home last Wednesday was all that stood between the Yanks and a sweep of the Red Sox. So the breaks have evened out thus far.
Word is Carl Pavano--who only looked slightly dazed as a result of being hit in the head, more reason for the nickname "Meat"--should be able to make his next start, which would come Friday in Baltimore. Today the Yankees are in Boston for the Red Sox's home opener, set to start this afternoon at 3:05. Today's match-up is Mussina v. Wakefield, a rematch of Wednesday's series finale in the Bronx.