There was no brawl in Baltimore last night, but the signs for one were there. Carl Pavano initiated the bad feelings when he plunked Brian Roberts in the back following Larry Bigbie’s solo home run. Several innings later, Daniel Cabrera retaliated by throwing behind Alex Rodriguez. Both teams were issued a warning by home plate umpire Marty Foster and that was that. But Orioles’ reliever Steve Kline–who looks like Mike Stanton’s disheveled kid brother–provided some theatrics in the seventh inning when he was called for a balk. With the game tied at four and Jorge Posada on first base, Jason Giambi was at the plate with the count 3-0 in his favor. On the YES broadcast you could hear someone shout “Balk!” The announcers later speculated that the Orioles believed that the Yankee bench had convinced the ump to make the call. Either way, Kline absolutely lost it, and was quickly run from the game.
He later told reporters:
“I just think they favor the Yankees all the time,” he said. “I’m getting [upset] at that. They suck up to them. They’re the cream of the crop.”
…”I didn’t do anything to deceive the runner. It was a bull … call,” Kline said. “I’ve played nine years and only had like one balk call my whole life. Now I have three [this season]. Once you get hit once, they look at you real hard.”
…”I just asked [Foster] what I did and he tossed me right away,” Kline said. “I used a couple of bad words, but you have to understand we’re in the middle of a game. I said, ‘Hell, if I’m going to be gone, I might as well get my money’s worth.’ I was debating if I wanted to put him in the cobra clutch.”
Jorge Julio replaced Kline, intentionally walked Giambi, and then got Ruben Sierra to hit a ground ball to first base. But Sierra hustled all the way down the line, and beat the relay throw, avoiding the double play. YES showed the replay several times, and it was a lot of fun to see two beefy guys like Julio and Sierra in a mad dash for first base. Ruben still has some speed in him yet. Pinch-hitter, Bernie Williams followed, and launched a line drive to center field for a sacrifice fly, giving the Yanks the lead for good. (Gary Sheffield added an RBI single in the ninth, making the final score, 6-4.) Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth and the Yanks gained a game on the Red Sox who lost to Cleveland at Fenway Park. New York trials Boston by five-and-a-half games, while Baltimore remains two-and-a-half out.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was nice to see the Yankees come from behind again (they trailed 4-1 at one point). Pavano was not brilliant, and Hideki Matsui looked rusty in his return to left field, but the Yankees turned three double plays, earned nine walks, got a big night out of Ruben Sierra, and saw the bullpen shut the home team down over the last three innings.
“My patience is a little short, because the team isn’t performing up to its great capability,” Steinbrenner said Monday through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein. “The players have to want to win as much as I do.”
Wonder if George will order his team through the paddy-whack machine if they continue to disapoint him.