"If we have to see them in the playoffs, they know it's not going to be easy." Johan Santana
Yo, tell me something I don't know. The Twinswhipped the Yankees for the second straight night at the Metrodome. Both games have been anything but competitive. Johan Santana was efficient and devastating. He had a two-hit shut-out going into the eighth inning when allowed three hits before being pulled. The Yanks managed to score a couple of runs but it was too little too late. Mike Mussina and Taynon Sturtze gave up seven runs between them. By the middle of the game, the Minnesota crowd let the New Yorkers have it, chanting "Yankees Suck." Not for nothing, but I'm not impressed. I understand them wanting to vent after losing so often to New York over the past few years, but couldn't they have come up with something better than "Yankees suck?"
In his first start in a month-and-a-half, Mussina was understandably rusty. He didn't have much control and the Twins took full advantage. (Anyone know Shannon Stewart's lifetime numbers against the Yanks? Man, he always seems to kill 'em.) In all, it was a sour night for Yankee fans as the Red Sox gained another game in the standings. Boston trails the Yankees by eight games. As Jack Curry notes in the Times today:
Once again, the Yankees' comfort level does not seem to coincide with how a team with the best record in the American League should feel. Unless the Yankees get better performances from their starters, they look more flawed than formidable. Mussina and Javier Vazquez returned from injuries in the first two games here, but each was glaringly ineffective.
"I understand it's not going to be the way it was just yet," Mussina said. "You hope for a little better command of the baseball, but you just don't know. I really wasn't too disappointed."
It was nice to get a look at Joe Nathan, Minnesota's ace closer. He looked strong, though several Yankees hit the ball right on the screws (Williams, Matsui, Sierra). In fairness to Nathan, perhaps he wasn't at his best working with a five-run lead. Alex Rodriguez returns to the Yankee line-up tonight and not a moment too soon. The Bombers look to El Duque to save their bacon once again.
Jobe told Sheffield, the Yankees' right fielder, that the trapezius muscle in his shoulder had pulled away from the bone and caused a separation. Jobe, who had studied Sheffield's medical records but not met with him, said that Sheffield would need to rest for a month so that scar tissue would form around the muscle and enable him to heal completely.
...The trapezius muscles are flat, triangular muscles that are involved in the movement of the shoulder and arms. Sheffield has a damaged acromioclavicular joint - the separation of the shoulder - which the Yankees never disclosed. Sheffield said Wednesday that Jobe recognized the injury as similar to what Sheffield experienced when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
...To be playing in this kind of pain and then thinking you're going to need surgery and you don't know if you can rebound from it at this point or have the desire to rebound, that's a big relief to know I don't have to go through that process," Sheffield said. "That's one road I don't have to cross."
George King reports in the Post today that the Yankees could be close to trading recently acquired pitcher Esteban Loaiza to the Texas Rangers for a couple of minor leaguers.