So, is anybody else yearning for a nice, crisp, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel?
Thursday's game passed rapidly from disastrous blowout, to mind-blowing Yankees Classic comeback, to just kind of meh; it was like the Yankees' entire season – so far, anyway - condensed into nine innings. This is terrible! No, wait, it’s awesome! No, no, wait… it’s just kind of mediocre! And it took four hours! When the dust settled, it was White Sox 13, Yankees 9.
I thought Clemens looked pretty strong in his first inning of work, but – You Can't Predict Baseball, Part 37,854,237 - the second inning was one of his worst ever, and the White Sox scored eight runs before he was mercifully lifted. Thanks to an uncharacteristic and costly error by Robinson Cano on what should have been an inning-ending double-play, only three were earned, but nevertheless, Clemens simply had nothing yesterday: the ball ball was right up over the plate, it wasn't thrown all that fast, and it wasn't moving. The inning is a blur of bloopers, line drives, singles and doubles, loaded bases and scoring White Sox; the nine hits in the frame were the most Clemens has ever allowed, and the last time he allowed eight… uh, Gorbachev was introducing glasnost? Sorry, but it seems like every time Clemens starts this year, he does something or other for the first time since the 80s, and I’m starting to run out of Cold War references.
I tend to assume that any game in which I so much as glimpse Mike Myers in the second inning is a game the Yankees are going to lose, and indeed he issued a walk to the first and only batter he faced. But he was followed by Jeff Karstens, returning from his freakishly fractured leg, who came in with the bases loaded and induced Juan Uribe to fly out. The Yankees then began the arduous climb back against Sox starter John Garland; it took them all of three outs.
Matsui singled, Posada doubled, Cano singled, and new Yankee Wilson Betemit introduced himself with a nice big three-run home run, which earned him a curtain call. Scott who? That got the Yanks halfway there, and a long string of singles (plus a Posada ground-rule double) took them all the way back. This was only the second time in Major League history, apparently, that both teams have scored eight runs in a single inning... and as YES put it, the first time ever in all of Major League history that two teams accomplished this in the second inning. “We’re a part of history,” said Al Leiter, in the booth. “… A really small part.”
Other than a Bobby Abreu homer in the sixth, though, that was all the offense the Yankees had in them. Go figure that the Yanks would torch a pretty solid starter in Garland, then flail helplessly at the White Sox’s largely inept bullpen; You Can't Predict Baseball, part 37,854,238.
The White Sox fared better against the Yankee relievers. Jeff Karstens wasn’t terrible given that this was his first outing back, but he gave up three runs in three innings, and far, far too many of those runs were created by Scott Podsednik. Ron Villone was actually quite good, but he was followed by Kyle “Oh… You’re Still Here?” Farnsworth, who, to the surprise of absolutely no one, allowed two impressive home runs in his inning of work. To be fair – and despite what you might have gathered from the crowd’s reaction - the game was largely lost before he got there; but damn, the guy’s just excruciating to watch. “I still believe Kyle Farnsworth is going to be a contributor to this,” Joe Torre said after the game. Well sure, I believe that too… but what exactly is “this”?
It was a tough loss, particularly given that Cleveland won, and so the Yankees are once again three games back in the Wild Card race. But on a basic humanitarian level, it may have been for the best: if the White Sox had lost, I would have feared for both the mental and physical health of Ozzie Guillen.
In other news, Jorge Posada left the game in the 8th with banged-up knees, stemming from a nice double play he completed at the plate (Robinson Cano, trying to atone, started it with a great throw after catching a popup in shallow center). But it sounds like the injury isn't serious, so it's probably okay to start breathing again now.
Finally, A-Rod hit his 500th home run. What - you didn't hear about it? Man, I'm telling ya, this whole milestone's just not getting enough media attention...