The announced crowd at Yankee Stadium last night was 31,898, but it felt more like 1257. It reminded me of the Bombers recent past--93-97, before the throngs started jamming the Stadium, and attendence was thin. You had to be a brave soul to sit through last night's game, though at 2 hours and 25 minutes, it was mercifully quick affair. I like it when the crowd is small enough to hear individual chants and hecklers. You could hear the bleacher creatures roll call in the top of the first, like they were sitting just under the broadcast booth.
In a brisk, well-played game, the Yankees beat the Twins 2-1, on the strength of two solo home runs (Jorge Posada and Raul Mondesi) and 8 strong innings from Mike Mussina. Kyle Lohse, Minnesota's young right-hander, was efficient and effective for 7 innings, pitching quickly and staying ahead of the Yankee batters. He made a mistake to Posada---the first batter he had fallen behind all night, and got burned, as Jorgito popped a line drive into the right field seats. Two batters later, Mondesi yanked a pretty good slider into the left field stands for the go-ahead run. Mondesi, who looked foolish in his first at-bat, is holding his hands further away from his body, and lower than usual. He holds the bat straight-up in the air, and looks like a right-handed Reggie Jackson.
The most exciting play of the game came in the 4th inning. Soriano led off with an infield single to short, the Yankees first hit of the game. Torre put on the hit-and-run and Nick Johnson smacked a ball to the left side, which was snared by the Twins third baseman Corey Koskie. Koskie dove to his left to make the play. He threw to first to get Johnson, and then had to scramble back to third as Soriano charged passed second and into third. The throw from first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was low and wide, and Koskie made another nice play, blocking the throw and saving a run. It is interesting to note that Sori slid into third feet first. Looks like someone's paying attention.
Mike Mussina was almost as nasty as Lohse, he lasted longer, and pitched out of trouble when he needed to:
"A hundred and twenty pitches is a lot for me in July, let alone bad weather, but I had good stuff," Mussina said. "It was cold, it's not fun, but I grew up in this weather, have been playing in the Northeast as long as I've been playing.
"I think I'm throwing the ball pretty well. The stuff I went through at the beginning and the middle of last year, hopefully I got rid of and the way I threw at the end hopefully will carry over. To this point I think it has."