That's what the Yankees did in the bottom of the second inning last night, not only getting off the schnide, but doing so with a historic offensive outburst. The Yankees 13-run second inning tied the record for the most runs scored in the second inning of a game (accomplished four other times, just once before in the AL), fell one short of the franchise record for runs in any single inning (14 on 7/6/20 in Wash), and was the most ever scored in one inning by the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have scored 13 runs in one inning just three times, including last night, the most recent coming on June 21, 1945 in Boston.
By the time the game was over the Yankees had scored 19 runs, the most by a Yankee team since the 2002 club scored 20 in Colorado on June 19 of that year (the last time they scored as many or more runs outside of Coors field was, oddly, also on June 19, but in 2000 when they scored 22 in Boston; the last time they scored as many or more at home was July 24, 1999 when they beat Cleveland 21-1).
The Yankee line-up last night was Jeter, Bernie, Sheffield, Matsui, Rodriguez, Giambi, Posada, Tino, Womack. All nine got a hit, all but Jeter (who walked three times) Sheffield (who walked once) and Womack got more than one. All nine scored at least one run, five of them scoring multiple times. All but Matsui and Womack drove in at least one run. Those nine men reached base 29 times, adding seven walks, and two hit-by-pitches to their 20 hits.
The biggest nights were had by Tino Martinez--who hit the grand slam that capped the scoring in the second inning--and Alex Rodriguez. Tino went 3 for 5 with a hit by pitch, a double, and that grand slam. He scored twice and drove in six, leaving just one man on base. Prior to the grand slam, Tino made a great baserunning play in early in the 13-run second inning when he singled home Giambi for the third run. Chris Singleton in right bobbled the ball and Tino decided to go for second only to be thrown out by a good six feet. However, shortstop Julio Lugo, rather than swiping at Tino for the tag, simply held the ball in front of the bag expecting Tino to slide into it. Instead, Tino lifted his front leg over Lugo's glove, hooking his left foot onto the bag before Lugo got the tag on his right knee. Tino got the call and the floodgates opened. Rodriguez, meanwhile, went 5 for 6 with two doubles, two homers and a single (13 total bases), scoring five times and driving in another six, leaving just one man on base.
The primary victim was Rob Bell, who came into the game off two respectable 6-inning starts with a 1-0 record and a 4.50 ERA. Bell gave up 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings.
It was a ringing statement by the Yankee offense that the reports of the team's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, Jaret Wright didn't get the memo.
Actually, that's a bit unfair. Wright started the game retiring the first six men in order on 23 pitches, striking out two. Then came the 34-minute bottom of the second. Then came his struggles. He started the top of the third by walking Alex Sanchez, who walked just seven times in 352 plate appearances last year. He then got ahead 0-2 on Toby Hall but his next pitch was wild and the one after that was hit back at his ankle, ricocheting into foul territory for an infield single.
Wright appeared unaffected by the comebacker and said he had no discomfort after the game, but he never really regained his form. Fortunately for the Yankees they had room for error and left him in there to surrender eight runs on three walks and eleven hits through 5 1/3 (four Ks, 57 percent of 107 pitches for strikes). Distressingly, that 5 1/3 innings made last night Wright's longest outing of the year in three starts. As if we needed any more proof that the Yankees' problems are on the mound, not at the plate, last night's game made it crystal clear.
Thankfully, there was some good news out of the pen. Paul Quantrill and Felix Rodriguez both pitched well. Quantrill allowed three singles in 1 2/3, walking none and throwing 71 percent of his pitches for strikes. If that was good but not great, Rodriguez pitched two perfect innings, striking out one and throwing 65 percent strikes.
It's just as well, too, because the Yankees placed Tanyon Sturtze on the disabled list last night due to a strained left oblique muscle suffered during Saturday's loss to the Orioles. Sturtze will be out until May 2 and will be replaced on the roster by 39-year-old LOOGY Buddy Groom, who had an excellent spring (9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 4 K) and would have been eligible to void his contract had he not been on the 25-man roster come May 1.
Tonight the Yankees try to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since the first two games of the season by sending Randy Johnson to the mound against the D-Rays. Johnson's mound opponent will be Hideo Nomo, who, like Rob Bell last night, will be pitching on three day's rest due to shoulder stiffness on the part of last night's scheduled starter, Matt Hendrickson (too bad, it would have been fun to see the 6'9" lefty Hendrickson take on the 6'10" lefty Johnson). Nomo surrendered eight runs in two innings against the Red Sox in his last start. According to Lou Piniella, the short start means he'll be fresher than Bell on three day's rest, but Nomo did need 75 pitches to get through those two innings, whereas Bell needed just 93 through six in his last outing.
I'll be at the game tonight. There are still plenty of $5 upper deck and bleacher seats available.