"This was ugly. We just gave too much away and we didn't get the job done. It's one thing having a team beat you. It's another thing to help them beat you. That's what this one was tonight." Joe Torre
It was a game the Yankees needed to win. With a 5-2 lead in the sixth, it appeared that they would win. But poor relief pitching combined with lousy fielding and hitting allowed the Devil Rays to come-from-behind and beat the Bombers, 7-6. This game goes to the top of the list of painful losses for the Yanks who failed to gain ground on either the Red Sox or A's. This one was like bony finger in the Yankees' gut.
Torre seemed most disappointed in Cano. After reliever Aaron Small lost a 5-2 lead in the sixth and seventh innings, the Yankees scored in the eighth to retake the lead, 6-5. Aubrey Huff led off the bottom of the eighth with a grounder to Cano's left. He spun and fielded the ball but never set his feet and threw wildly past first baseman Tino Martinez. Huff scored two batters later.
Torre said Cano should have taken more time with a slow runner like Huff. "The whole thing with that play is the preparation and knowing who the hitter is," Torre said.
Cano said he might have rushed the throw because Huff is a left-handed hitter and thus closer to first base when he hit the ball. But he admitted he failed to think about Huff's lack of speed.
"I forgot who was running," Cano said. "I should have waited to throw the ball a little bit longer. I should have held the ball a little bit more and waited for Tino to get to the base."
Johnny Gomes, Tampa Bay's cocky rookie, scored the winning run. This kid is easy not to like if you aren't a Devil Rays fan. He was hit by a curve ball his first time up and gave Al Leiter a load of attitude as he went to first--never mind that he leaned into the pitch. He doesn't just hustle, he struts too. A small, compact man, he's a combination of Pete Rose and Jimmy Superfly Snuka. But he has energized the Rays. After the game, he told repoters:
"It just shows that the Yankees, with their history and with their payroll and with their All-Stars, they're not bulletproof," Gomes said. "In between the lines there's no salaries and no world champions. It's nine-on-nine plus your bullpen and your bench, and it just shows anyone can win."
Gomes aside, the Yankees gave this one away. As a friend mentioned to me in an e-mail this morning, the Yankees are now 4-12 against the Devil Rays and Royals. Flip that record around and they are easily in first place. If they miss they playoffs because they could not beat the two worst teams in the league, well then they clearly don't deserve to play in October.