Knuckerballer Steve Sparks had his best outing in a long while and vexed the Yankee offense for seven innings, scattering three hits and allowing just one run. Jorge Posada missed a sign in the second inning and was promptly caught stealing, which killed a possible rally. Sparks got a lot of easy pop flys and weak ground balls. Steve Finely later robbed Posada of a sure double in the deep center and Danny Bautista tracked down two well-hit balls by Derek Jeter to aid Sparks. Bernie Williams lead-off the game with a single, Jon Lieber added a base hit and Alex Rodriguez crushed a knuckler that didn't knuckle deep into the left field stands for the Yankees' lone run (Rodriguez has now reached base in 53 straight games).
Jon Lieber pitched well. After allowing a run in the first--thanks if part to some poor defense by Jason Giambi, who was clumsy in the field all evening--Lieber worked efficiently and quickly. He escaped a jam in the fifth, thanks in part to an interference call on Arizona's lead off man, which prompted a Bob Brenly to come out and argue.
With the game tied at one, Lieber allowed a solo homer in the seventh and then a run scoring double in the eighth before he was removed. Felix Heredia walked the only batter he faced, and then Brett Prinz gave up a couple of run-scoring hits to put the game out of reach. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Enrique Wilson singled and Ruben Sierra pinch hit for Prinz. He checked his swing with two strikes before eventually flying out to end the game. Brenly, still smarting from the interference call I suppose, went batshit. Even when the Diamondbacks walked onto the field to congradulate each other, Brenly was fired up, going after the home plate ump. Hey Bob, y'all just won the game: Lighten up, Francis.
It was a frustrating evening for New York as they lost a game they had a good opportunity to win. The Yanks lead over Boston was reduced to four-and-a-half games after Derek Lowe and co. shut out the Rockies 11-0. (For an entertaining look at the state of the Sox, check out my man Edward Cossette's post today.) The Sox head to San Francisco for the weekend (Pedro vs. Barry Saturday afternoon), while the Yanks shuffle off to Los Angeles. (Willie Randolph still remembers that misbegotten '81 Serious too.) Former Yankee Jeff Weaver will face Javier Vazquez tonight; the rookie Brad Halsey makes his debut against Hideo Nomo tomorrow afternoon and Jose Contreras will pitch against Jose Lima on the Sunday Night Game of the Week.
For the Dodger perspective, be sure and keep up with Jon Weisman's coverage over at Dodger Thoughts. Jon will be at Dodger Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday he gave a quick rundown on the state of the team:
Saturday could be ugly because Hideo is pitching for us. You guys luck out by missing Odalis Perez, who's been hot. Weaver against the Yankees should get a lot of attention, huh?
The thing with the Dodgers we've been talking about lately is how they're a bunch of singles hitters without a lot of power. Green has one HR since May 8 - his batting average is rising but that's about it. On the upside, the Cora-Izturis combo has become one of the best in the league - improving on offense and dazzling on defense. Dave Roberts has had a good OBP and has about a 96 percent stolen base success rate. I still love Beltre this year, even though his leg is hurting him - not many third basemen in baseball have more than 30 homers in the past calendar year. And we've had some help on the bench - much of the team's power actually comes from guys like Jose Hernandez, Olmedo Saenz, Jayson Werth (a big guy!) and Jason Grabowski.
I do think that as long as the Dodgers win one out of three, we'll look at it as a success.
That's funny. Without getting too cocky, I'd look at the Yankees losing two of three as a disapointment.