Alex Graman has good stuff according to Joe Torre, he just fights himself too much. He was too keyed up last night, didn’t trust his stuff. You know the company line. The Yankee rookie didn’t make it out of the first inning and placed New York in a 5-0 hole. The Yankee pitching problems aren’t going away. While the Bombers eventually fought back to tie the game, an egregious error by Kenny Lofton (with some help from Godziller Matsui) in the sixth inning, led to two runs, as the Devil Rays prevailed, 9-7.
Tanyon Sturtze replaced Graman and pitched reasonably well for several innings. He left in the sixth, replaced by Felix Heredia. A run scored and with two out and men on second and third Juan Padilla relieved Heredia. Padilla did his job and got pinch-hitter Robert Fick to loft a fly ball to left-center field. Matsui drifted over poised to make the catch, and so did Kenny Lofton. The two didn’t communicate properly, the ball fell in, two runs scored and Fick was awarded a double.
The Yankees were down by three runs instead of one, so Ruben Sierra’s two-run, pinch-hit bomb in the eighth–complete with cha-cha steps and plenty of mustard–didn’t save the day. The Rays added an insurance run in the ninth off of Paul Quantrill.
“He looks just like he was earlier in the year when he didn’t have that hitting zone going for him,” Torre said before last night’s loss to the Devil Rays. “His bat doesn’t have that snap to it; it sort of weighs. It’s not an aggressive swing. It’s more body than hand.”
Gary Sheffield too feels weak and may seek another cortisone shot for his gimpy shoulder. Derek Jeter is swinging the bat well though; he’s pulled several inside fastballs over the past few games instead of inside-outing them to right field.
The only bit of good news for Yankee fans was that Boston lost to the Mariners in agonizing fashion last night in Seatttle. Keith Foulke blew the save and Brett Boone hit a grand slam in the 11th inning to give the M’s the win. The Sox remain seven games behind New York.
More good news for the Yanks. Graman won’t start in Fenway this weekend. Most likely, he’ll be replaced by Tanyon Sturtze. Happy?