In the top of the fifth inning last night, YES broadcaster Ken Singleton said, "The Yankees look as if they are hitting under water." It was an apt description and a nice way of puting it. Listless, ancient and awful are other words that come to mind. The Yanks didn't score their first run until the ninth inning, when with one out, Hideki Matsui ripped a high fastball from Troy Percival for a solo home run. Derek Jeter, standing at the top of the dugout, immediately raised his arms and turned to Johnny Damon to slap five. Al Leiter, Singleton's partner on the air, mentioned that Jeter must have called Godzilla's blast. Jeter's face is a deeply tanned and he smiled broadly.
It was to be the last good moment of the evening. Kyle Farnsworth got through the ninth and Mariano Rivera survived a lead-off single to Carl Crawford in the tenth, but Mo couldn't get past a lead-off base hit by Cliff Floyd in the eleventh (this was New York's first trip to extra innings this season). When Jonny Gomes entered the game to pinch run for Floyd, a sinking feeling overcame me. Sure enough, Gomes swiped second and then raced home on a base hit by Gabe Gross. Final: Rays 2, Yanks 1. All three hits against Rivera came from lefties. His location was off, but he can hardly be blamed--this was the first run he's allowed all season. Neither can Chien-Ming Wang, who wasn't brilliant, but damn good, giving up just one run over seven innings.
No, the blame rests squarely on the offense. Even without Posada and Rodriguez, $200 million has to buy more than this. Hank Steinbrenner, talking to Kevin Kernan in the Post, agrees:
"The bottom line is that the team is not playing the way it is capable of playing," Steinbrenner said. "These players are being paid a lot of money and they had better decide for themselves to earn that money."
...He then paid the much-improved Rays a compliment, saying, the Yankees have "got to start playing the way the Rays are playing. (The Yankees) need to start treating it like when they were younger players and going after that big contract, like they're in (Triple-A) and trying to make the majors. That's the kind of attitude and fire the players have to have.
"There's no question we need to turn it around and we have the talent to turn it around. We've got the team in place, and now they just have to go out and do it.
"This is going to get turned around," Steinbrenner said. "If it's not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have too."
According to Kevin Long, the hitting coach:
"Realistically, we should score about five runs a game if a guy's not on his game," Long said. "A guy like tonight, we could probably push across three runs with the stuff he had. Last night's guy, we probably could have got more.
"You've got to figure they're probably a run, a run and a half," Long continued, referring to the run production lost without Rodriguez and Posada, "but we've talked about it. Each guy thinks we should be able to score five."
(Kepner, N.Y. Times)
Pete Abraham collected some cherce quotes from the Yankee pitchers:
Chien-Ming Wang: "It's tough pitching with no runs. It's surprising because we have good hitters. I got my job done and kept the team close."
Mariano Rivera: "We have to score some runs and we haven't done that."
Joba Chamberlain: "It's tough right now. Every run against us looks huge."
With Shields and Kazmir pitching the next two days for the Rays, it's hard to imagine the Yankees leaving Florida with a split. Go figure that. The Rays, it should be noted, are now in first place, and last night marked a high-point in their history.
"You're looking for growth moments?" said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "There's one right in front of your face tonight." (The Tampa Tribune)