It was freaking cold in the Bronx on Sunday. The box score says it was 41 degrees, but it was overcast with a 20-mile-per-hour wind and snow flurries filled Yankee Stadium off and on throughout the game. Undeterred, Becky and I had the perfect plan.
A hearty meal at the Court Deli:
And lots and lots of layers:
To be perfectly honest, our plan worked about as well as the Yankees', which was based around getting a solid outing from Darrell Rasner. Rasner looked sharp in the first, and the Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter singled, Bobby Abreu plated Melky with a sac fly and Alex Rodriguez launched his first pitch to the Armitron sign in right field to give him two home runs and six RBIs on his last two swings.
Already freezing, Becky turned to me and said, "So that's it, right? They won and we can go home?" If only.
Seven pitches into the top of the second, Rasner had given two of those runs back on a Jay Gibbons single and a rocket Kevin Millar homer to left. As it turns out, Rasner was developing a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand and was having trouble finishing his pitches. Meanwhile, Erik Bedard settled down and retired the next nine Yankees in order with the help of a great diving catch by Nick Markakis in right on a sinking liner by Jason Giambi.
The half inning before Markakis's catch, Rasner coughed up the lead on a one-out Millar double, a walk to Corey Patterson, and a three-run home run to the short porch in right by Paul Bako. Yes, you read that right, a walk to Corey Patterson and a three-run homer by Paul Bako. Ouch.
Between the score and the weather the stadium was oddly silent save for the sound of the whipping wind. I actually heard a couple of the home plate umpires' strike calls from the right field bleachers, and the fans' taunts were clearly audible from all corners. The most entertaining was by far the simples. While playing the field, Most of the Orioles were keeping their throwing hands warm by stuffing them into their back pockets where they had stored some hand warmers. Some of the fans in the right field box seats kept yelling at Markakis "Hand in my pocket!" "Got my hand in my po-cket!"
In the fifth inning, the frame after the Bako homer, Rasner started off by allowing a single and a stolen base to Markakis, getting Tejada to fly out, and walking Aubrey Huff. That was enough for Joe Torre, who turned to his bullpen once again, calling on Sean Henn. Sticking to the script, the pen turned in 4 2/3 hitless innings, the highlight being Andy Pettitte using his throw day to lighten the load by pitching around a walk in the sixth.
The pen did manage to surrender a unearned run in the seventh after Robinson Cano lost a wind-blown pop up off the bat Miguel Tejada in the grey sky--shades of Alex Rodriguez's opening day gaffe, and perhaps a foreshadow of their imminent trip to the Metrodome. Tejada moved to third on a groundout and scored on a sac fly to center.
Bedard left the game after throwing 99 pitches over seven innings, striking out five and walking none. With Jamie Walker on in relief the Yankees mounted a rally. The cold had kept Johnny Damon's tender calves on the bench to start the game, but when Joe Torre sent Jorge Posada to the plate to pinch-hit for eight-place hitter and emergency left fielder Miguel Cairo with a man on second and two outs in the seventh, Damon went out to center field to replace ninth-place starting catcher Wil Nieves (pushing Melky to left). Damon had been left in the on-deck circle in the seventh and when he finally got to the plate to lead off the eighth, he battled Walker for ten pitches, fouling off six straight pitches before lacing a stand-up triple to center. Two pitches later, Damon scored on a groundout by Cabrera to pull the Yankees within two at 6-4.
After Jeter flew out for the second out, Bobby Abreu singled to bring Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run. Sam Perlozzo then countered with righty submariner Chad Bradford. Rodriguez and Bradford battled over seven pitches while the winds picked up, creating a blinding flurry of snow flakes and hot dog wrappers.
Rodriguez worked a walk. Perlozzo then turned to lefty John Parrish, who proceeded to walk Jason Giambi on another seven pitches to load the bases for Josh Phelps. Phelps ran the count to 2-2 before flying out to center to end the threat.
Chris Ray pitched around a two-out Damon single in the ninth to nail down the 6-4 Orioles victory.
The Yankees now head out to the climate controlled Metrodome for three games with the Twins followed by three games in Oakland. That means they shouldn't have to worry about seeing something like this again this season:
Hopefully that means they'll have fewer muscle pulls to worry about as well. One could easily argue that the cold weather in the Bronx was to blame for the injuries to Damon and Matsui.
Speaking of Matsui, he's officially been placed on the 15-day DL, in part to keep him from trying to come back too soon and thus risking a longer layoff. Kevin Thompson will replace him on the roster, while Damon should return to his rightful place in center, pushing Melky to his old haunt in left for the next couple of weeks. (Don't ask about Bernie, he's busy.)
Finally, here's a progress report on the new stadium.