Last night Kevin Brown faced Tampa Bay for the fourth time this season. In his first three outings, Brown allowed one run over seven innings. Going into the eighth with a 5-0 lead, Brown had allowed just one hit. But Toby Hall hit a solo home run, then Brown allowed a walk and double and his night was over. Felix Heredia gave up a run-scoring single off the glove of Tony Clark--who has performed admirably in Jason Giambi's absence--before Flash Gordon struck out Fred McGriff for the last out of the inning. It was a match-up that didn't seem fair. Gordon threw two fastballs that McGriff couldn't catch up to but fouled off. Then he threw a drop-curve ball and the Crime Dog swung about four feet over the pitch. Mariano Rivera came on for the save in the ninth as the Yanks held on for the win. They moved a half-a-game into first place after the Red Sox lost to the Mariners earlier in the day.
Considering how Brown was pitching, the game didn't seem close at all. The Yanks hit three solo home runs (Bernie, Ruben, Enrique), and many of their outs came on exceedingly hard-hit balls. Tampa made a charge, but it was too little too late. I'll be honest, I was dreaming about a one or two hit shut-out as the eighth inning began. As you can imagine, the self-loathing Mr. Brown wasn't too pleased about his night ended. According to Newsday:
"If we had two runs and I gave up three, the perception is I didn't do what I needed to do to win the game," Brown said. "But because we had five runs, that's a different situation. And perception is a tricky thing . . . I was what I was. It doesn't change the way it was the first seven innings. And it doesn't change what I was in the eighth inning."
Jon Lieber is on the mound today against Carlos Zambrano as the Yankees go for the sweep.
In other Yankee news, the Times reports that Steve Karsay was impressive during an extended spring-training game in Florida. About a month ago I was under the impression that Karsay was done for the season. If he manages to come back and be effective, that would be an enormous boost for the Yankees' bullpen.
Browsing the Sunday papers, here are a couple of links to feed your head:
Sam Borden has a nice piece on how Joe Torre deals with the New York media. Borden also speaks to Gary Sheffield, who feels that he's being singled out by government officials with regards to the Balco case.
Gordon Edes, the top baseball man at the Boston Globe, answers fan mail today, including the possibility of Randy Johnson pitching in New York or Boston before the year is over (zilch).
Finally, Tom Boswell weighs in why Junior Griffey still matters.