"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain

The Yankees haven’t lost on my man Alex’s birthday since 2001, but they did so last night against the pathetic Kansas City Royals, dropping the game 3-1 and in turn giving the Royals just their fourth series win on the season (the others coming against the Angels, Indians, D-Rays).

Randy Johnson again failed to dominate, allowing 9 hits including a two-run first-inning home run on a flat slider to Emil Brown. Overall, it was Johnson’s best start in his last four tries, as he went the distance, striking out seven against just one walk, needing just 104 pitches to get through eight, 68 percent of which were strikes. But one must remember that he was facing this line-up:

Angel Berroa
David DeJesus
Mike Sweeney
Emil Brown
Tony Graffanino
Matt Diaz
John Buck
Terrence Long
Joe McEwing

Facing those nine, Johnson allowed three runs in his first three innings, which would prove to be all the Royals needed.

The Yankee bats were pathetic, announcing the official arrival of a team-wide slump that has seen them score just seven runs in their last four games. Their only real threat against D.J. Carrasco, who picked up his first win as a major league starter, came in the first.

Leading off the game, Jeter worked Carrasco for seven pitches before flying out. Matsui, batting in the two-spot with Tony Womack on the bench, then singled on Carrasco’s 15th pitch and Sheffield walked on the next four. With two on and just one out, Carrasco then got two called strikes on Alex Rodriguez before getting him to fly out to right and Jorge Posada followed with a two-pitch groundout to first.

Brown touched off on Johnson in the bottom of the inning (and I do mean “touched off,” his shot was a no-doubter that splashed down in the fountain in left) two outs after a perfectly placed lead-off bloop double just inside the foul line in shallow right by Angel Berroa. That was about all she wrote.

The Yankees got the lead-off man on in the second and third, but stranded the first (a Giambi walk) and erased the second (a Jeter hit by pitch) via a Matsui double play ball. The Royals added a run in the third on an identical bloop double by Berroa and a David DeJesus RBI single. Johnson would tag DeJesus in the ribs with two outs and none on in the seventh. No warnings were issued.

The Yankees made some noise with a one-out Giambi double in the fourth, courtesy of an ugly-but-effective evasive slide by the lumbering first baseman, only to have Giambi get caught off base on a comebacker to Carrasco on the very next pitch.

The Yanks then stranded another lead off runner in the seventh after Ruben Sierra, starting at DH for the first time since coming off the DL for the Mets series, singled for his first hit since being activated. Only a two-out solo homer by Bernie Williams in the ninth prevented the Yankees from being shut out.

Actually, the Yanks put up a legitimate threat in the ninth. After Giambi grounded out on the first pitch of the inning from KC closer Mike “Mac the Ninth” MacDougal (you have to give the Royals credit for the cajones it takes to give a guy like MacDougal a Big Bad Closer nickname) and MacDougal struckout Sierra on four pitches, Bernie hit his dinger to make the score 3-1. Robinson Cano then doubled over DeJesus’s head in straight away center on MacDougal’s next pitch, bringing Derek Jeter to the plate. Jeter battled MacDougal, taking a 94-mile-per-hour fastball down the middle for strike one, missing badly on a nasty sinker for strike two, then taking two balls, fouling off a 97-mile-per-hour heater, and taking ball three to run the count full. He then struckout on a slider that danced around his bat to end the game.

Bernie Williams’ two-out single in the fourth was the only hit the Yankees got with a runner on base all night, which is appropriate as Bernie is suddenly the hottest Yankee hitter. Bernie is 7 for his last 13 with three doubles and a homer. Having started nine of the Yankees’ last ten games he is hitting .323/.400/.581 (.325 GPA) over that stretch, making it official that Bernie should be permanently reinstalled in the starting line-up as the Yankees’ left fielder (his play in center is still horrific) and number-two hitter with Tony Womack (who is hitting .222 with no walks or extra base hits over the same span for a .155 GPA) hitting the bench. [For what it’s worth, Giambi is hitting .285/.348/.333 (.240) over the same stretch, his double last night being his only extra base hit over that span.]

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1 singledd   ~  Jun 2, 2005 4:28 am

1.  "[For what it's worth, Giambi is hitting .285/.348/.333 (.240) over the same stretch, his double last night being his only extra base hit over that span.]"

I guess that does NOT include the 'West Coast Test', as I know he hit a HR and had a short hitting streak. Do you know his numbers since the trip out West?

I think Giambi is a 'shit or get off the pot' proposition. He will not help us much off the bench, and eventually his presence will hurt. Because of his salary, I think the Yanks need to know what is the best he can bring.

As I've said for a while... make Bernie our everyday LF and Giambi our everyday DH against righties. Do this for 30-40 straight games... and then assess it.

I simply don't think we have better options. We know Bernie still can hit .250-.260, with doubles power and a few HRs. I think Giambi can do the same (slightly lower BA and higher OBP then Bernie), with a few more HRs.
Whatever their best is, we will only see it if the are both REGULARS.

I would also be curious to know statistically how many fewer opportunities (on defense and critical throws) a LF has compared to a CF.

Also: Is Bernies elbow still sore? Will his throwing inprove (a little) in the future?

2 Dan M   ~  Jun 2, 2005 5:13 am

2.  Singledd, one of the biggest problem with Bernie's arm over the years has been his inability to prevent runners from going first to third. That's not much of an issue for in LF, and hopefully Matsui can hold more guys at 2nd.

The Yanks fell back into their ALCS Part II mode of swinging at the first pitch last night. At one point, KC got out of a one on, one out spot on two pitches, thanks to Cano and Jeter.

3 rbj   ~  Jun 2, 2005 5:17 am

3.  [Censored]
-kicks chair-

Torre wasn't happy last night either. While Randy wasn't overpowering, it was a decent game overall, pitching-wise.
Yankees weren't able to capitalize on early wildness by the Royals' starter. Pathetic.

4 Paul   ~  Jun 2, 2005 6:12 am

4.  I turned the game on after the first inning, with the Royals already leading 2-0. I then learned that the first run got on base with a bloop double, followed by the home run. From this perspective, Johnson pitched a very strong game, with plenty of Ks and good velocity on the fastball and movement on the slider. Granted, it's the "silver lining", but I'm trying to take something good out of another painful loss.

5 Murray   ~  Jun 2, 2005 6:16 am

5.  There are no positive lessons to be taken away from a second consecutive loss to the worst team in the league.

6 Pete   ~  Jun 2, 2005 6:46 am

6.  I listened to pregame on the radio, and heard John Sterling say that on any other team Carrasco was, at best, a middle reliever. I can't believe how a guy like this could make the Yankee bats look so futile. (The umpire seemed to be helping him out with borderline calls, to the point where Kenny Singleton mentioned it.) The lineup's inconsistency this season has been maddening.

7 rsmith51   ~  Jun 2, 2005 6:56 am

7.  It is nice to see Bernie some good abs. He looked lost there for a while. Has anyone "official" mentioned putting Bernie in LF? It is ridiculous that Womack is getting the majority of the playing time there and more annoying that he is batting second(so he can move the runners along, I guess). He is not even doing that. I had hoped that Cashman shook up the lineup to point out how bad Womack is. I think they have the players to win, just need to use them right. Unless they get a legitimate CF, Matsui in CF, Bernie in LF, and Sheffield in RF. If they get a CF, cut Ruben. He looks terrible. If he's around Torre may use him WAY TOO MUCH!

8 Rich Lederer   ~  Jun 2, 2005 8:00 am

8.  The Yankees haven't lost on my man Alex's birthday since 2001

Oh, I thought it was that the Yankees hadn't won a World Series since Alex turned 30.


9 nickb   ~  Jun 2, 2005 8:13 am

9.  As a Royals fan who has had to put up with a historically bad season, a bird-brained managerial hire and at least two nationally respected baseball writers suggesting contraction as the best solution to the Royals problems, I have to say that the Yankees losing two, or, God forbid, three games to Kansas City is small peanuts on the scale of relevant complaints.

10 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 2, 2005 9:36 am

10.  Nickb, let me first say that those suggestions of contraction are moronic, particularly in Kansas City. The Royals have a fantastic fan base, they just have an incompetant owner/front office. MLB needs to find a way to get ownership to sell the team.

Meanwhile, I recognize the pettyness of our whining here, but this is a Yankee blog. If this were a general baseball blog that had focused on the Yankees little rough spell as a major issue, then I could understand your complaint, but we're here to talk Yankees and you have to agree, they should not be losing to your Royals.

11 nickb   ~  Jun 2, 2005 9:51 am

11.  Cliff - I'm a fan of baseball in general, of the Royals specifically. I like to read all the blogs on this site to see the varying points of view around the league. I totally agree that this is a Yankee blog and Yankee fans ought to be able to complain about whatever they want. I just wanted to add a little perspective. At the end of the year, you guys will be battling for the wild card or even the division title and this series will be but a laughable side note.

12 Dan M   ~  Jun 2, 2005 10:47 am

12.  Also, Cliff, KC has the most underrated stadium in the game.

13 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 2, 2005 11:00 am

13.  Indeed, now that they have real grass, it's an absolute beaut. Kauffmann Stadium and PNC Park both deserve to have winning ballclubs, though the KC fans deserve a winner much more than the Pittsburgh "faithful."

14 nickb   ~  Jun 2, 2005 11:18 am

14.  Thanks for the love, guys. I'm off to try to convince Rob Neyer and Joe Sheehan not to head up the contraction sweepstakes.

15 brockdc   ~  Jun 2, 2005 11:58 am

15.  Speaking for myself, a lot of my "whining" comes from the frustration of what the Yankees COULD be, much of which has been detailed ad infinitum on this blog. Though ideally this team could use a personnel overhaul, from top to bottom (but a mixture of cronyism and bad contracts prevent this from happening), they would still benefit greatly from just a few minor tweaks (benching Womack, platooning Phillips and Tino, putting Bernie in LF and attempting to groom young talent as opposed to trading it away and watching it thrive in ML outposts). It's much easier to root for your team - win or lose - when you know they're headed in the right direction.

By the way, I know futility too. I've been a Jets and Rangers fan my whole life and bitch about them incessantly, regardless of their respective records.

16 nickb   ~  Jun 2, 2005 12:51 pm

16.  I definitely understand that viewpoint. I'm also a Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan whose team consistently wins but comes up just short in the tournament. Your team can be a winner, loser or somewhere in between and still generate oodles of frustration. But the joys they produce keep me coming back for more!

17 Beth   ~  Jun 2, 2005 6:39 pm

17.  "failed to dominate" is an interesting way to phrase it.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver