When the Yankees loaded the bases in the second inning they already had a 3-0 lead. They had four consecutive hits in the inning, there was nobody out, and Cano, Sheffield and Rodriguez were due up. I thought to myself that this could be the game right here. One hit and Randy Johnson will have all the runs he needs. The Yanks weren't hitting Doug Waechter especially hard but Sweet Lou had the bullpen up and working just in case things got out of hand. Cano, who had walked on four pitches in the first, grounded sharply to Eduardo Perez. The portly son of Hall of Fame firstbaseman Tony Perez, Eduardo made an off-balance throw home for the first out. It wasn't a graceful-looking play but it was effective. Waechter then struck out Sheffield and got Rodriguez to ground out to short.
The Yankees would not score again and eventually lost the game in extra innings. Perez, who hit two home runs off of Johnson in New York back on April 19, hit another dinger off Johnson, a two-run shot in the sixth. Then, with one out in the ninth, he tied the game with a solo dinger off of Mariano Rivera, who blew his fourth game of the season. The ball barely cleared the left field fence. A fan wearing a Yankee jersey caught the ball. I could not tell from the replay if he reached into fair territory but it seemed like the ball was only going to hit off the top of the wall. Rivera watched the play unfold and after the ball was ruled a home run, a flash of tension gripped his face. It almost looked like a spasm. His face coiled up with anger and it looked like he was going to say something. Instead he spit. It happened so quickly it was easy to miss. Rivera, who then motioned with his hands that the fan perhaps interfered with the ball, rarely shows emotion but that was a fitting expression. So mad that all he could do was spit.
The Devil Rays won it in the 11th when Scott Proctor walked Johnny Gomes on four pitches with the bases loaded. Gomes, who was hit three times the night before, and had struck out three times in Tuesday's game, was up because Aubrey Huff was intentionally walked to load the bases. Gomes, a powerful right-handed hitter, reminds me a little of Jeff Bagwell. He's got huge forearms, today's standard facial hair, and a head of kinky hair. (Where's your activator, man?) Gomes is compact and though he swings from his heels doesn't come across as just a hacker. He is surprisingly brash for a rookie. After striking out for the second time against Johnson he copped an attitude with the home plate umpire. When he walked against Proctor he flipped his bat merrily and did his best Charlie Hustle down to first. I'm interested to see how he develops. Looks like a good hitter. He could end up being a good nemesis.
Final score: Tampa Bay 4, New York 3. The Bombers lost a game on the Sox who, led by David Ortiz, won in 11 innings, but remain a game-and-a-half behind the A's who dropped their second game in a row to the Orioles. It was a difficult loss for New York because it looked as if they were going to bomb Waechter early. Rivera appears to have hit a bit of a slump, which he customarily does around this time of the year. He made a bad pitch to Perez. It was supposed to be in on the hands but hung out over the plate. However, it was the lack of offense that really cost the Yanks the game. Sheffield and Rodriguez combined to go 0-10. Give Waechter credit: he threw strikes--Tampa Bay walked only two batters all night---and worked quickly. Randy Johnson was not dominant but he was very good, allowing just the home run to Perez in seven innings of work. He got out of some trouble early on with the double play ball, but settled down and pitched well.