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Catwalk Cruisin'
2005-08-16 04:46
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

With two men on and just one out, the tying run came to the plate against Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning last night (Rivera had allowed a bloop double and then hit a batter). At the same time in Detroit, the Tigers were staging a ninth inning comeback against the Red Sox closer Curt Schilling. However, Rivera steadied himself, retired the next two hitters and sealed a 5-2 win for the Yankees. With the Sox and A's losing, the Yanks now trail Boston by three-and-a-half games in the AL East, and Oakland by just a game-and-a-half for the wildcard.

Jaret Wright had his longest outing as a Yankee, pitching into the seventh inning. He was aggresive and threw strikes. The Devil Rays hit the ball sharply several times off of Wright, but for the most part, they went directly at Yankee fielders (Alex Rodriguez made an especially nifty pick on a Jorge Cantu ground ball in the bottom of the fourth). Wright gave up two runs on four hits, a walk and a couple of strikeouts. Even better, he only threw 79 pitches and was still throwing in the early-to-mid nineties in the sixth inning.

Alex Rodriguez, the Bombers' candidate for the American League MVP, led the offense cracking another memorable home run. This one--a solo shot--hit one of the catwalks. Rodriguez knew it was gone off the bat and went into a home run trot. The TV cameras showed centerfielder Joey Gathright going back on the ball as if he had a chance to make a play. Then he just stopped and kept looking up. The ball never came down. Suddenly, Rodriguez was hustling into third. But just as he slid, the umpires signaled that the ball was indeed a home run. Oh man, Jeter is going to bust his chops for this one, I thought.

It was Rodriguez's 36th of the year, tying his 2004 total. The Yankee third baseman went also walked, doubled and collected three RBI. Gary Sheffield hit a long fly ball in the first, and then a home run foul in his next two at bats. He finally straightened it all out in the seventh and hit a solo homer off of Travis Harper, his 25th. (The Yanks hit the ball hard against Harper again, but mercifully, a few shots--Matsui, Bernie--were caught for outs.) Sheffield also had an RBI single against Casey Fossum. It was an impressive piece of hitting as Sheffield waited on a sloooow breaking ball, somehow keeping his hands back, and slapping the pitch into left for a base hit.

The Yankee offense was tough on Fossum last night. They didn't end up scoring a lot of runs but made Fossum work. Jason Giambi saw 23 pitches (11 and 12 respectively) in his second and third at bats. (After Rodriguez's long homer, Giambi actually hit the catwalk in right field. The ball was way up in the upper deck but just foul.) Fossum objected to a call against Sheffield before the RBI single. He made a gesture and slumped his shoulders. Ken Singleton commented that Fossum's move would not endear him to any of the umpires. Sure enough, Fossum was called for a balk in the sixth inning by the second base umpire. I couldn't actually see where he balked. Perhaps he just wasn't too popular with the umps. Lou Piniella did not come out to argue on his pitcher's behalf. Fossum pleaded his case to Lou in the dugout after the inning but his manager did not appear overly sympathetic.

The Yanks have won five straight. Carl Pavano will not return this season, but Wright's performance was encouraging. If Randy Johnson turns in a good one tonight, Yankee fans will have even more hope that their team can somehow reach the playoffs this year.

Comments
2005-08-16 05:41:38
1.   Alex Belth
I returned from Vermont yesterday and have been out-of-the-loop, only periodically checking in on the Yankee news. I was mildly surprised to hear Michael Kay criticizing the Yankees for taking Aaron Small out of the rotation in place of Wright. He argued that Small was the hot hand right now, so why mess with him?

My feeling is that the Yanks have gotten more out of Small than they could ever have expected. The guy is living a dream season, something out of a movie. After all those years in the minors, I'm sure he'd be willing to hang on with the team as a bullpen catcher let alone a bullpen pitcher. I figure he's in a position where any spot they've got for him on the big league team would be appealing. And because he's got nothing to lose and everything to prove, why wouldn't he be able the ideal swingman?

He can start again, pitch long relief, whatever. I'm not saying that he's some great weapon, but it seems like a no-brainer to move him into the pen. I sure don't think it will mess with his head. I figure he's just ecstatic to still be around, with an opportunity to continue helping the team out.

2005-08-16 06:12:23
2.   Yanks in NH
I have to agree with Michael Kay - if and when Small falters, he'd be great in the pen, but play out the hot hand and see where it goes! I'm not worried about how Small handles it either way and I'm sure you're right regarding him being glad to be there in any role. They always talk about catching 'lightning in a bottle' and that's what he's shown so far!

Anyways, great return for Wright and exactly what we need right now and boy is A-Rod on a tear showing what he can do now that he is settled into the New York scene. Add to that the Red Sox blowing one in the ninth and it just doesn't get any better than this!

Mark my words, at the end of season the Yanks will be leading the East and the Red Sox will be in 2nd and out of the playoffs ... and the next cycle of the Curse of the Bambino will begin!

2005-08-16 06:16:31
3.   NetShrine
Adds for the Schilling "Why Not Us" shirts on Bronx Banter?
2005-08-16 06:27:45
4.   STONER
Another reason to be happy Small went to the pen...he really has not pitched a full season in the bigs forever...I'd bet anything he was close to hitting the 'wall' with a dead-arm...now we'll be able to get the rest of the season out of him with a fresh arm (that is if Wright wakes up this morning and his shoulder feels OK).
2005-08-16 06:39:53
5.   Alex Belth
Yeah, we're just getting into some ads here at baseball toaster. I'm sure we'll have some more that look decidedly un-Yankee. I think they are pretty random and change regularly. For us, it's a way to make a little bit of scratch. Please pardon any ads that you might find offensive.
2005-08-16 07:24:06
6.   murphy
as per alex's "bullpen catcher" comment: the couple of times i have heard small interviewed, he seems really humble and very earnrst about doing "whatever i can to help the team". sure, all the guys say it - especially the ones in his situation - but he seems to MEAN it, and based on his performances so far, i have no reason to doubt him. go aaron, go!

as per ads: while no one really loves 'em, i say, if it makes you guys some cash, go for it. this (more than MLB.com, ESPN.com, the FAN or ESPN radio) is where i come to first for yankee news. cliff and alex deserve just as much as the jayson starks and michael kays of the world.

2005-08-16 07:39:20
7.   Murray
Was Jaret Wright good? Sure, but we won't know for sure until the Yankees play somebody better. This, to me, is the most galling thing about having the Yankees play these turkeys 19 times each season: wins don't count for much, but losses are painful.
2005-08-16 08:36:46
8.   Yanks in NH
Yeah, the real test will be when we're playing a better team, but Wright sure beats Sean Henn! Why do they throw a guy like Henn into mix not once, but twice - a great way to lose two to the absolute worst team in the league.
2005-08-16 09:10:47
9.   Shaun P
I didn't have any problem with the Yanks pitching Henn twice against the Rays. A bad team like Tampa is exactly who you want your rookie pitchers to face.

That Henn pitched poorly in his two starts against Tampa means almost nothing. It can happen to anyone - look at what the Unit has done against Tampa this year. Henn's excellent minor league track record should count for more than his two crappy spot starts in the bigs.

That kind of thinking is why the Yanks haven't had any pitchers come out of the minors lately and hang around. They get brought up, have one or two bad starts, and are never heard from again. Gross stupidity! Meanwhile, in a crunch we're looking at the Nomos and Seles of the world, and trying guys like Wayne Franklin in the pen.

Younger isn't necessarily better, but it sure is cheaper, and why not take a chance on guys with good minor league track records, versus guys with crappy major league track records?

2005-08-16 09:10:53
10.   DarrenF
Jeter bust ARod's chops because he slid into third base? I'd say 99.999% of the homerun hitters I've seen in my life would have been standing on first base, if they'd even gotten that far.
2005-08-16 14:38:44
11.   Yanks in NH
My point on Henn is that he tanked against them once, so put him up in front of a different team for his next outing, because we're going to lose games, but we cannot afford to lose the games that we should win and every game against the Devil Rays we should win!

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