It was evident from the first batter Kevin Brown faced last night, that the tall right-hander was off his game. Alfonso Soriano fouled off several pitches and eventually walked on a 3-2 pitch. Standing on the mound looking in for the sign, legs apart, right hand dangling by his side, Brown's body looks gnarled and mangled. He looks like an abstract sculpture, or perhaps a strong German Expressionist drawing. With each pitch, he puts forth so much energy you wouldn't be surprised if it was the last one he ever threw. I can't help but occasionally make sound effects, great grunts and gutteral yells, as Brown releases the ball.
Brown was deliberate and had little command as the Rangers rolled to an easy win in Arlington. On the other hand, Ryan Drese pitched well. The Yankees hit the ball on the screws several times, with nothing to show for it. In the first inning, Gary Sheffield smoked a ball foul that missed being a double by a few feet. Drese came back with a nasty off-speed pitch and Sheffield really opened his left shoulder as he waved at it. This has been the pitch that exposes Sheffield's weak shoulder and the Yankee slugger doubled-over in pain. Drese followed with another change up--this one further outside--and Sheff swung and missed. (In his second at bat, Sheffield line out hard to Hank Blalock at third.) Ouch. Both Sheffield and Brown looked ennervated and bruised. Must be the dog days of summer. The Yanks managed a couple of cheap hits, but couldn't get a rally going.
The Red Sox beat up on the Devil Rays in Boston and gained a game on New York. They now trail by nine-and-a-half games. Taynon Sturtze will start tonight, replacing Javier Vazquez who has a case of pink-eye.
Cool, Calm, Collected
Joe Torre took George Steinbrenner's public critique on Kenny Lofton's defense in stride. According to Jack Curry in the New York Times:
"We know because of the fact that he's George, he's going to say things," Torre said. "I said when I signed this contract it wasn't going to bother me. It's different in my brain now where I stand here."
..."Last year I thought maybe the eight years was enough," Torre said. "Maybe we were tired of each other. I thought it was geared toward having me just work my contract out and that would be the end of it. After this spring, the contract changed my whole perspective."
...Torre teased Lofton about being the focus of Steinbrenner's wrath.
"We talked in spring training that this is the owner and the Boss will be the Boss," Torre said. "It goes away. The Boss doesn't go away. It goes away."
Torre is like a cop out of an old New Yorker cartoon who has seen it all. He arrives on the scene and calmly clears the crowd, "OK, show's over, nothing to see here. Show's over. Let's move along."