The Yankees ran into familiar problems in Game One of the World Serious tonight--namely, the inability to hit with runners in scoring position, and field the ball properly--as they fell to the Marlins, before an unusually subdued crowd at the Stadium, 3-2. Brad Penny was decent, but far from imposing. However, the Yankees were unable to take advantage and it cost them. Meanwhile, Boomer Wells was effective, but not brilliant, but the Marlins were able to get just enough for the win. Nick Johnson, Jason Giambi and Alfonso Soriano all had long nights offensively for the Yankees.
Florida manufactured a run in the first inning (sac fly by Pudge Rodriguez), and Derek Jeter singled home a run in the third to tie the game. But with runners on first and third and two men out, Rodriguez picked Nick Johnson off of third base on a timing play to end the frame.
In the fifth, David Wells walked Jeff Conine to start the inning and then allowed a single to Juan Encarnacion. After the runners were sacrificed to second and third, Juan Pierre shot a single past Derek Jeter into left. Hideki Matsui fielded the ball cleanly and made an accurate throw toward home. But third baseman Aaron Boone, inexplicably cut the ball off and chose to throw to first. Whether or not Matsui's throw was strong enough to get the runner at the plate, it certainly was on target, and Encarnacion was still half way up the third base line. Boone could have cut the throw and gone home in time to get the runner. But he didn't and the second---and winning---run scored.
Bernie Williams connected for a solo home run off of Brad Penny in the sixth to close the gap to 3-2, but then Dontrelle Willis, the Marlins' side-arming southpaw, came in and shut the Yankees down. The Yankees did reach Willis for consecutive singles in the eighth (Williams' second hit of the night, Matsui's third), but Ugie Urbina struck Jorge Posada out to end the inning. Urbina kept Posada off balance by throwing him change-ups and he was helped by a generous strike call by the home plate ump on an inside fastball as well.
In the ninth, Urbina walked Jason Giambi---who struggled once again, missing fastballs he usually crunches during the course of the game--to start the frame. Dave Dellucci came in to run for Giambi, and Aaron Boone failed to get the sacrifice bunt down. With the count 1-1, Dellucci was running and Boone popped to right for the first out. Ruben Sierra pinch hit for Juan Rivera--who had replaced Karim Garcia earlier in the game---and drew a full count walk. Alfonso Soriano followed and managed to work the count full only to look at a called third strike for the second out. Next, Urbina fell behind Nick Johnson 2-0 but got him to pop out to center field to end the game.
It was a critical win for the visiting Marlins, and a frustrating loss for the Yankees. If the Yankees think they can survive on late inning theatrics alone, they are in for a rude awakening. Florida nickel and dimed a win tonight while the Yankees went 1-12 with runners in scoring position. The Bombers had their chances but could not capitalize on them and now they quickly trail 1-0.
The Yankees lost the first game of against the Twins and the Red Sox too, so there is no reason to panic. But tonight's loss was discouraging because it seemed so preventable.