Two nights ago I caught a portion of "Baseball Tonight" and John Kruk actually had some reasonable things to say about Yankee fans. He said that we should appreciate how lucky we are to be able to watch star players like Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter each and every day. For once, it was hard to disagree with him. I was thinking about just how fortunate I do feel every night as I sit down to watch this team as Kevin Brown quickly recorded the first two outs in the first inning last night. With the count 2-0 to Todd Helton my reverie was rudely interrupted by a terse, vicious chant of "Rockies suck, Rockies suck."
Where did that come from? Some poor schnook must have had the misfortune to wear a Rockies cap, or perhaps he or she said something wise to provoke such a quick, angry response. Regardless, a group of fans were on the attack. By the time the count was even at 2-2 they were yelling, "Ass-hole, ass-hole." Unfortunately, it isn't enough for some Yankee fans to appreciate the good thing we've got going. They've got to be smug and ugly too. Ah, well.
Brown let several pitches up in the zone in the second inning, Gary Sheffield was charged with a throwing error (although his toss to Alex Rodriguez could have been handled), and somebody missed a pick-off sign at second base, as the Rockies scored four runs. Worse, Taynon Sturtze--slacked-jawed with something resembling fear in his eyes--replaced Brown in the third inning.
Brown was diagnosed with a strain in his lower back. The extent of his injury is uncertain but this cannot come as a surprise to Yankee fans. It's never been if Brown will be hurt this season, it's when. Evidentally, the time is now. This may hasten the Yankees search for another starting pitcher, but all considering, it's preferable to have Brown break down now rather than in September and October. Still, losing Brown at a time when Jose Contreras has been awful, Jon Lieber has been up and down and the bullpen has been taxed, is enough to make some Yankee fans a bit, shall we say, irrational. Who cares if the Yanks have the best record in baseball, time to panic! (Headlines to follow.)
Sturtze got himself into immediate trouble, loading the bases and walking a run in. I cursed him out and after a double play got him out of the inning, he yelled at himself too, and slapped the side of his head with his mitt. Sturtze calmed down after that and didn't allow another run over four innings of work. The Yankees chipped away at the lead, as has become their custom. With runners and first and second and nobody out in the Yankee third, Colorado's starting pitcher Joe Kennedy made a throwing error which opened the door for the Bombers, who scored four runs, including a laser, two-run rope by Gary Sheffield which knocked off the left field foul pole.
Kennedy crusied after that, but Derek Jeter finally got to him in the seventh. Jeter fouled off four two-strike pitches in a ten-pitch at bat and smacked a two-run homer into the right field bleachers. Bernie Williams followed with a solo shot that landed just over the right field fence. The smile on Bernie's face as he crossed the plate was sweet and wide. I don't recall seeing him look so happy all season. But, the weather is getting hot--it was uncomfortably humid last night--just how Bernie likes it.
Once again, Flash Gordon pitched the eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth to seal the victory for New York. The Yanks increased their lead over Boston to three-and-a-half games after the Sox were pounded by the Padres in a rain-delayed affair at Fenway Park. Nomar Garciaparra made his season debut for the Sox, going 1-2 (a single through the left side and a hard line out to left field).