Good thing I’m not a betting man, huh? Well, I should have known. How does Jose Contreras follow an awful performance? With a good one, of course. While nobody in his or her right mind will believe that the soporific Cuban has finally worked out the kinks in his game, or that he’s the answer to the Yankees’ pitching problems, Contreras had his forkball and fastball working for him last night, and encountered only one difficult inning, in the fourth. But he came back brilliantly in the fifth and sixth. He left with two men on and two out in the seventh, thanks in part to an error by Alex Rodriguez. Paul Quantrill got the Bombers out of the inning, and Mariano Rivera got a five-out save.
On the other side, Victor Zambrano was his usual wild self. Zambrano stands with his legs wide apart when he’s in the set position; he looks like a wishbone ready to be snapped. The guy struggles with his control, but his pitches are incredibly nasty, and they move a lot. He walked the bases loaded in the first, and the Yankees scored a run on Jason Giambi’s sac fly to left. Derek Jeter drove in the next two runs, and Hideki Matsui drove in two more when he hit a grounds rule double with the bases loaded. Gary Sheffield yanked a slider into the left field seats in the ninth for the final two runs of the game.
In all, it was a good night for the Yankees, who remain six games ahead of Boston, who beat Oakland in extra innings at Fenway Park. After a rough time against New York and Atlanta, give the Sox credit for sweeping the A’s at home.