After a rousing 16-run outburst against the Mets on Sunday night, the Yankee offense was ineffective again on Monday in Cleveland. Jason Giambi hooked a 3-2 breaking ball into the right field seats in the first inning against southpaw Jeremy Sowers for a two-run dinger and that was all the scoring the Yanks would do as they fell to the Tribe, 5-2. Generally speaking, if you haven't heard of the pitcher before, chances are they've got a good shot at beating the Yanks. Chien-Ming Wang wasn't his usual sharp self, but he wasn't awful either. This was a night where he needed the bats to help him a little something and it just didn't happen.
The third inning turned out to be pivotal. With one out, Johnny Damon doubled. Derek Jeter followed with a sharp single to center. The ball was hit so hard that Damon didn't have a chance to score. Jeter promptly swiped second but Giambi went down on strikes. The Indians intentionally walked Alex Rodriguez and then Sowers struck out Bernie Williams to get out of trouble. It was a nice bit of pitching and Sowers showed that he has some poise. The Indians singled three straight times in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run in the process. But it was Victor Martinez's double to left that hurt the most. Melky Cabrera looked overwhelmed attempting to field the ball--first he took a bad route to it, then misplayed the ball off the wall and lastly missed the cut-off man allowing the slow-footed Travis Hafner to score all the way from first base. Instead of keeping the go-ahead run from scoring--the Yanks trailed 3-2.
Things got worse for Cabrera who was robbed of base hits not once but twice by Aaron Boone. Really some fine work by Boone. Todd Hollandsworth made a couple of nice grabs in left field as well and his two-run homer sealed the win for Cleveland. The Bombers had a chance in the ninth. They got the tying run to the plate. With two men on and two out, Kevin Reese pinch-hit for Nick Green and faced Bob Wickman who fell behind 2-0. The next pitch, tailing away from the lefty was inexplicably called a strike. I am not lying to you when I say that it was possibly the worst strike call I can ever remember seeing. It wasn't like it was close but Reese didn't get the call. It was as if the home plate ump was on the take. It was an awful call. 2-1 is a lot different from 3-0, no? Reese grounded out to end the game and it is not like the Yanks can blame the loss on a bad call, but yo, in a critical spot it sure didn't help matters any.
Yanks are still struggling offensively. Fortunately for the New Yorkers, the Red Sox ran into a buzzsaw named Kazmir as Boston's lead remains four games.