Okay, first the badnews. Randy Johnson's stiff back may force him to miss his start this week. According to Tyler Kepner in The New York Times:
"It's real tight, so it's hard to move around," he said after receiving extensive pregame treatment. "Just the normal aches and pains, but today there's the back spasm, so there's a little bit more discomfort."
Though his back has been a persistent issue this season, it has not caused him to miss a start. That could change this week.
"Let's put it this way: If he feels the way he does today, he can't pitch," Manager Joe Torre said. "He's been dealing with this issue and other issues. There are a lot of things he has to attend to before he pitches every fifth day. He's uncomfortable today. Is it going to affect his next start? We need a day or two to know that."
Meanwhile, Carl Pavano was scratched from his scheduled return on Tuesday. Instead, Pavano will visit Dr. James Andrews and there is talk that his season is over.
The good news is that the Yankees beat the Blue Jays yesterday, 6-2, to keep pace with Boston and Oakland, who also won. It wasn't an easy win--Flash Gordon and evenutally Mariano Rivera (one pitch, final out, goodnight)--were used again, and Godzilla Matsui pulled a Manny is Manny, making a memorable boner, which thankfully resulted in more laughs than tears. Al Leiter, grunting like Monica Seles by the fifth inning, pitched as well as can be expected, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had three hits, and Jason Giambi had two run-scoring singles.
The Chicago White Sox come into town for a three game series starting tonight at the stadium. It's the first time these two teams have met all year. Fittingly, erstwhile Yankee and International Man of Mystery, Yul Brenner aka "El Duque" Hernandez will start for the ChiSox. This is will be the first time Duque pitches against the Bombers which should make for some compelling theater. Wonder if he's still got his eephus pitch. For his sake, he'd better keep it away from Alex Rodriguez. One of the funniest things I've ever seen came back in the late summer of 2002. It was an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers were in town, and it was brutally hot.
Duque had been tinkering with the old lob ball for a few games when he uncorked one to Rodriguez in the first inning of a day game. Rodriguez was caught off guard, and so was the ump: the pitch looked like a strike, but was called high. Rodriguez stepped out of the box, smiling. Duque tried it again on the very next batter, Raffie Palmerio. The pitch was in the dirt and it skipped away from Posada. The second time Rodriguez came up, Duque threw him another floater, again for a ball. Not willing to let well enough alone, Duque thought he would fool Rodriguez by trying it again in the same at-bat. Chutzpah is not something Hernandez is lacking. So he floated another one to the plate, arching his back in an exaggerated manner that gave away his intention. Rodriguez waited, the pounced, popping the ball over the left field fence. Joe Torre shook his head and grumbled (Personally, I laughed about it for months). It was the last Eephus of the day for Hernandez, who gave up a homer in the next at-bat to Palmerio (fastball). Those were the only two times Texas scored all day, Duque settled down and pitched wonderfully and the Yanks won the game.
But it's those kind of moments that make me miss him. Wonder what kind of magic/garbage he'll have for the Yanks tonight. Mussina better be on his A-game cause I expect Hernandez to rise to the occasion.