The Yanks ended a thoroughly lousy weekend in which they were swept by the Angels, by collecting just four hits all afternoon. Kevin Brown was tagged for a three-run home run by Bengie Molina and that was enough to sink the Bombers. Nothing has gone right for the Yankees over the past week: they’ve lost six of seven games and a full five games in the standings. They now lead Boston by just five-and-a-half games. Wonder how the Mount St. Steinbrenner Fury Index is going?
The only rally the Yankees had yesterday was partially thwarted by another inexplicable sacrifice bunt by Derek Jeter. Kenny Lofton led off the third inning with a single and scored on Bernie Williams’ double to right. Man on first, no out, Yanks up 1-0. And you could see it coming. Even a guy wearing a Jeter jersey in front of me was shouting out, “Why?” Jeter bunted Williams to third, completing his 13th sacrifice of the season. There was a smattering of applause at the stadium, admiring the captain’s “smart” play. Oy veh. Oh by the way: end of rally. Gary Sheffield doubled Williams home. Somewhere Earl Weaver was shaking his head. Kelvim Escobar pitched well and the Yanks wouldn’t get another hit until Sheffield hit a solo dinger in the eighth.
While Jeter’s lack of walks this year–he has just 26–has really hurt his numbers (.326 BBP), his newfound love for the sacrifice bunt just doesn’t make any sense. The New York press has been slow to call Jeter on it–the Times didn’t mention it at all today–but a loss like yesterday’s is enough to start them asking questions. Joel Sherman opines:
Why would Derek Jeter, struggling again on offense, sacrifice with Bernie Williams on second, one run already in and no outs in the third? Jeter said because he felt the team needed to build toward another run and that Kelvim Escobar’s 95 mph fastball tails into righties, and he did not feel he could shoot the ball to right field. But he also disputed he has sacrificed more this season, though the 12 [actually 13] he has are one more than he had produced in the three previous seasons combined.
The blame for the Yankees’ slump does not rest on Jeter’s sacrifice bunting of course. I know I’m picking on him. Alex Rodriguez isn’t hitting a lick, and other than Sheffield, neither is anyone else in the line-up. Oh, and they haven’t had a lights-out performance from any of the starting pitchers either. The team starts a three-game series in Cleveland tonight. The Indians have fallen out of the playoff race. One of these teams is due for a win. Let’s hope it’s the New Yorkers…
I was at the game yesterday. It was a beautiful day to be at the park. The place was packed. But we sat on our hands for most of the day. There was a seven-year old Mets fan sitting behind me who was taking great delight in the Yankees’ misfortune. He didn’t stop talking throughout the entire game and seriously, it took all of my maturity as an adult not to turn around and say something that would potentially scar the kid for a long time. I came close to losing it, and am thankful I managed to control myself. You all should have seen the look on my face though. A true comedy routine if you ever saw one. Anyhow, Emily had a great time. “I’m at the ball game,” she kept saying. “I’m so happy to be at the game, and you can quote me and put it on your site.”
I hope to be able to post more positive quotes like that as the week moves along.