"Bad, bad, bad baseball,'' Piniella said. ``That's what it is. Bad, bad, bad baseball." (Tampa Bay Tribune)
The Yanks needed a win in the worst way, and the Devil Rays did everything they could to accomodate them. It was the kind of game that must have tried Lou Piniella's patience something serious, as the Rays fell to New York, 6-2. Unfortunately for Sweet Lou, it is the kind of performance that he has seen all too often in Tampa Bay. Leading 1-0, Ray Sanchez led off the fifth inning with a routine pop fly to right field. Rookie right fielder Damon Hollins made a curious leap when he got to the ball. He actually let it get behind him and botched the play in the process. Gary Sheffield, who is tearing the cover off the ball, laced a double to right, scoring Sanchez. He then stole third on Scott Kazmir's first pitch to Alex Rodriguez. With one out, Jorge Posada skied an 0-1 pitch into foul ground along the right field line. Hollins raced over and nearly ran past the play, making that little jump again. He made the catch and Sheffield tagged and scored easily. With a strike out pitcher on the mound, Hollins might have been wise to let the ball go there.
He redeemed himself with a single in his next at bat, and scored when Alex Sanchez hit a two-run dinger off Mike Mussina. It was the only significant mistake that Mussina made all night. Overall, his pitches were sharper than they've been all year. He pitched seven solid innings, relieved by Flash Gordon in the eighth, then Rivera, who struck out the side in the ninth.
The Yanks added three more runs in the eighth, thanks in part to a miscommunication in center that allowed Bernie Williams' bloop to fall in for a single, and a throwing error by pitcher Travis Harper on a sacrifice bunt by Derek Jeter. The Bombers got the win, but the Rays gave them a helping hand. It wasn't pretty--just ask rookie Andy Phillips, who struck out swining five times--but it was a win.