The Yankees got whooped last night, but while the Indians 19-1 victory was both impressive and disheartening, it was by no means historic. In fact, the Indians gave the Yankees and even worse beating less than two years ago, on the Bombers home turf no less. That game, the 22-0 score of which was historic, came just two games after the Yankees had scored nine runs in the ninth inning against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Last night's pasting came just two games after the Yankees erased 4-0 second inning deficit with a 16-run outburst against the Mets. In both cases, the two outbursts cancel each other out.
If there's anything to be learned here at all it's that the pitchers involved (Javy Vazquez, Tanyon Sturtze, C.J. Nitkowski and Esteban Loaiza in 2004; Shawn Chacon, T.J. Beam, Mike Myers and Scott Proctor last night--Ron Villone and Kyle Farnsworth, the only pitchers in either game to emerge unscathed, allowed just two baserunners, both against Villone, in 3 2/3 innings last night and thus escape criticism here) should be treated with suspicion from here on out. Of course, Myers entered the game with a two-month scoreless streak (covering just 9 2/3 IP given his LOOGY role), so one could argue his rough outing was merely a bit of statistical correction. Still, Vazquez and Loaiza went on to play key roles in the disaster that was Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Nitkowski had just 7 2/3 innings left in his career, and Sturtze spent most of the next season plus sabotaging the Yankee bullpen from within.
The good news is that after being stymied by rookie Jeremy Sowers--the odd rookie who may actually be as good as he looked against the URPing Bombers--on Monday and embarrassed last night, the Yankees still have a chance to split their series at the Jake with two of their best pitchers lined up for the final two games. Tonight the man on the mound will be Mike Mussina, who pitched four no-hit innings in his last start only to have his no-no stopped short by a rain delay. Moose has allowed just one run on five hits in his last 11 innings while striking out ten. What's more, he should be well rested after throwing just 53 pitches in that rain-shortened start. The only concern with Moose is the tight groin he experienced in that start, though all reports indicate that the injury is no longer bothering him. On the hill for the Tribe will be Paul Byrd, who held the Yankees to one run over seven innings three weeks ago in the Bronx only to lose 1-0 to Chien-Ming Wang and the Yankee bullpen (in that case Myers, Farnsworth and Rivera).
Peter Abraham reports that the Yankees have called up veteran starter and former Royal Kris Wilson from Columbus. Though they have yet to announce how they intend to clear room on the 25-man roster for Wilson, one suspects that T.J. Beam, who has surrendered three home runs in his last two innings pitched and was responsible for six of the Indians' 19 runs last night, will be optioned back to triple-A. Wilson last pitched in the majors in 2003 as a member of the Royals, posting a 5.33 ERA in 29 games, four of which were starts. He was similarly roughed up as a starter in triple-A Omaha in 2004, but was closer to average pitching primarily in relief for Columbus last year. Retained as roster-filler this year, he has been excellent in the Clippers' rotation, posting a strong 2.84 ERA, a career-best 7.14 K/9 and allowing just 74 hits in 92 innings. The right-handed Wilson has 235 career innings in the major leagues and a 5.35 ERA to go with them, so there's a good deal of wishful thinking going on here, but one thing he's always had has been excellent control. Indeed, he's walked just 1.47 men per nine innings in Columbus this year, a number that's entirely consistent with his minor league track record. So the good news is that Wilson won't hurt himself. The bad news is hitters have a history of putting a hurting on his pitches.