Well, phew. That was not a little bit of baseball.
This afternoon’s game was a flat, dispiriting 5-3 loss -- the Yankees scraped out a few runs, but Mike Mussina gave them right back. He wasn’t terrible, but missed over the plate too many times, giving up eight hits (including two homers) and five earned runs in just over five innings. Afterwards he said he had “no go-to pitch,” and blamed his poor outing on the extra rest caused by the off-day and rain out; man, when that guy says he likes to stick to a regular routine, he is not joking. I spent the sixth inning imagining him counting out a specific number of grains of rice to eat at every meal. Vizcaino, Myers, and Bruney followed in order and held down the fort, but meanwhile, the Yankee bats continued their painful death rattles -- although, to be fair, the White Sox’s John ”Pun-Proof” Danks pitched very well. I’d call him an URP, but in fact, he’s quite heralded. After the game, Joe Torre accurately described him as “conveniently wild.”
Bright spots included a single and a home run for the vengeful spirit of Tony Womack, which is currently inhabiting the body of Bobby Abreu, and an excellent leaping over-the-wall catch by Melky Cabrera (who also doubled), saving a two-run Paul Konerko homer. At the moment, by the way, Konerko is hitting .190. In fact, not a single healthy White Sox regular is hitting over .260. It could still be worse, people. Seriously, how many times today did Michael Kay say of a player stepping into the box, “… and he is REALLY struggling”? Between both teams, over the course of the two games, my best estimate is 34.
The night game, once again pushed back because of rain, was far more enjoyable – an 8-1 win that began as something of a pitcher’s duel between Chien-Ming Wang, back in top form, and Jose Contreras. The former Yank gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, but Wang was better. He allowed six singles and one run in his seven innings, throwing just 91 pitches -- and twice he got out of two-on, no-out jams without allowing a run or, as far as I could tell, breaking a sweat. The Yankees have been cautious with him the last two years, and obviously his long-term health needs to come first, but I hope he’s cleared to start Sunday on three day’s rest. I don’t want to see what the Mets can do to Chase Wright.
The key Yankee offense came on a two-run Matsui double in the third, an Abreu RBI single in the seventh, and a Jeter triple. Abreu's single followed three consecutive strikeouts, and I'm not at all sure his bat is coming back just yet, but that hit felt like the turning point of the game, and out of gratitude I will not refer to him as Womackian in this half of the recap.
Kyle Farnsworth got through the 8th allowing without allowing a run, but still cannot be recommended viewing for elderly or infirm Yankee fans with a history of heart trouble (flyout, walk, potential double saved by sweet A-Rod play, walk, line out, exhale).
As an aside, the White Sox used reliever Boone Logan in their half of the eighth, and sweet Jesus does that man work slowly. Excruciatingly leisurely relief pitchers are one of my biggest pet peeves. Boone Logan is now on my enemies list.
Anyway, the Yankee offense seemed to really get its groove back in the ninth. If this actually proves to be a turning point, please address your candy and flowers to reliever John Sisco, c/o Ozzie Guillen. Sisco allowed two walks and four hits, including homers for Melky “MELKY!” Cabrera and still-scorching pinch-hitter Jorge Posada, who at this rate, if he’s lucky, will get an entire game off sometime in August. I really think Melky is back, guys. Which is awesome, because when he plays well he jumps and darts around the Yankee dugout like everyone's favorite little brother on a sugar high, and it is adorable. To wrap things up, Mariano Rivera, looking much more like himself, took care of business in the bottom of the inning.
Meanwhile, I see on SportsCenter -- though I can only find it tentatively confirmed elsewhere at the moment -- that Yankee partner and former Steinbrenner heir-apparent Steve Swindal will be bought out for roughly $5 million.
And finally, today I was reminded of one of the most amusing things in all of baseball: namely, that Roger Clemens refers to his split-fingered fastball as “Mr. Splitty.” I know we already knew this, but it’s been a while, so please take a minute out of your busy day to appreciate how absolutely hilarious that is. Thank you.