"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: June 2005

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Woe is Us

The Yankees did their best Chico’s Bail Bonds impression last night, kicking the ball around, and playing themselves out of the game early, in a pathetic 8-1 loss to the Cardinals. It was such a depressing performance that I uncharacteristically found myself flipping through the channels by the middle innings because I simply couldn’t watch anymore. It’s not a matter of jumping ship, but if they aren’t going to show up, why should we?

Derek Jeter was visibly livid on the bench during the game, and Joe Torre lit into the team once again when it was over:

“It was an embarrassing game,” Torre said after emerging from yet another team meeting. “This is the worst. This one stands on its own.”

… “It’s not the pitching coach’s fault, it’s not the hitting coach’s fault,” Torre said. “It’s my fault. Ultimately it falls on me. I’m in charge of this team.”
(N.Y. Daily News)

Luis Sojo said it was the angriest he’s ever seen Torre; Bernie Williams said he’s seen him more upset, but nevertheless, Torre got his point across. Alex Rodriguez summed it up well:

“This is certainly rock bottom for this team,” he said. “Not just because we lost, but because of the fashion we lost in. It was just very embarrassing to be out there.”
(N.Y. Times)

The Yanks are saying all the right things. But talk is cheap. They need to get their collective head out of their ass on the field. At some point, you have to imagine that heads are going to roll.

The Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

2004 Record: 105-57 (.648)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 100-62 (.617)

Manager: Tony LaRussa
General Manager: Walt Jocketty

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Busch Stadium (97/97)

Who’s replacing whom?

Mark Grudzielanek replaces Edgar Renteria
David Eckstein replaces Tony Womack
Mark Mulder replaces Woody Williams
Randy Flores inherits Steve Kline’s innings
Larry Walker takes over Ray Lankford and Marlon Anderson’s playing time
Yadier Molina inherits Mike Matheny’s playing time
Einar Diaz takes over Molina’s playing time
Abraham Nunez has replaced Hector Luna and is filling in for Scott Rolen (along with Scott Seabol)
Al Reyes inherits Kiko Calero’s playing time
Dan Haren is replaced by various and sundry relievers

Current Roster:

1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Mark Grudzielanek
SS – David Eckstein
3B – Abraham O. Nunez
C – Yadier Molina
RF – Larry Walker
CF – Jim Edmonds
LF – Reggie Sanders


L – John Mabry (UT)
R – So Taguchi (OF)
R – Scott Seabol (IF)
R – Einar Diaz (C)
L – Skip Schumaker (OF)


L – Mark Mulder
R – Chris Carpenter
R – Jason Marquis
R – Matt Morris
R – Jeff Suppan


R – Jason Isringhausen
R – Julian Tavarez
L – Ray King
R – Al Reyes
L – Randy Flores
R – Brad Thompson
L – Gabe White


R – Scott Rolen (3B)
S – Roger Cedeno (OF)
R – Cal Eldred
R – Mike Lincoln

Typical Line-up

R – David Eckstein (SS)
R – Mark Gruzielanek (2B)
R – Albert Pujols (1B)
L – Jim Edmonds (CF)
R – Reggie Sanders (LF)
L – Larry Walker (RF)
S – Abraham Nunez (3B)
R – Yanier Molina (C)

The Cardinals calling card is their quartet of Hall of Fame-quality sluggers: Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker. But with Rolen on the DL with a shoulder injury (replaced by Pirates castoff Abraham Nunez and the Yankee’s one-time answer to Moonlight Graham, Scott Seabol), and Walker hitting a pedestrian .245/.347/.417 (.265 EQA) at age 38 in his first full season outside of Colorado since 1994, it’s time to give credit to their pitching for their recent dominance of the National League.


Was Watching

Speaking of nyerds, one of the nyerdest things to do is keep score at a baseball game (and if you are doing it at home, which I’ve tried on a few occasions, you are flat-out phreak). I never had the patience to do it when I was a kid. I also didn’t have anyone teach me either, and I think this is the sort of thing that is handed down from generation-to-generation. But about six or seven years ago, I started teaching myself how to do it. At first, I’d only last a few innings, but soon enough, I caught the bug. Actually, I think it appealed to my artistic nature, first and foremost. The idea of having a personalized record, complete with random notes, and little drawings, was appealing. Plus, it gave me a way to burn some nervous energy, doodling around, while I was at the game. I think I know the “correct” symbols to use now, but I still use half of my own notations, cause it’s just more fun that way.

Anyhow, I’ve come to appreciate people who keep score. Remember the story in the Times a few weeks ago about the woman who has been scoring Yankee games since the early 70s? Jay Jaffe has scorecards from when he was a kid, and I know Cliff is an expert scorekeeper. (Red Barber gives a lesson on how to keep score in his book “The Broadcasters” I believe.) A few days ago, Bob Ryan wrote a fun piece in the Boston Globe detailing his obsession with keeping score:

Why do I do this? If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand. Anyway, it’s a good way to meet people. People will see me with my book in a minor league park and say, “Are you a scout, or somethin’?” And I say, “No, I’m just a baseball fan who likes to keep score.”

It’d be great to run a series of people’s scorecards, don’t you think? If anyone has any good ones, make a j-peg of them and send it along to us. At least we could see what everyone’s penmanship is like.

You Could Look it Up

Our pal Steve Lombardi, who runs the excellent “Was Watching” Yankee blog, has written his first book, “The Baseball Same Game.” Using advanced metrics, Lombardi’s book compares players from different eras who has similar lifetime statistics. Fun for the baseball nyerds everywhere. In the true blogger spirit, Steve’s book is self-published, something Cliff and I both greatly admire. Check out his site for reviews and consider “The Baseball Same Game” as an ideal Father’s Day goody. Dude, it’s better than a tie.


Jerry Seinfeld once said that rooting for a single sports team over a long stretch of time ultimately means that one is rooting not for the players, or even for the coaches or owners, but for the uniform. “Basically,” reasoned Seinfeld, “you’re rooting for laundry.” This is not entirely true (after all, if it were, how would one explain Diamonbacks fans?), but there is a kernal of truth there, even if most teams change their uniforms much more often than they change ownership.

I myself have always enjoyed the history of the ever-changing baseball uniform, and as a result have delighted to the writings of Paul Lukas, whose Uni-Watch column was, along with Allan Barra, one of the reasons why the Village Voice‘s late one-page sports section was such a delight. Like Barra, Lukas initially moved to Slate.com after the Voice dropped sports. Last August, Lukas found a home on ESPN’s Page 2, where Uni-Watch now appears two or three times a month.

The latest Uni-Watch concerns an issue that is close to any baseball traditionalist’s heart: the stirrup sock, which just might be making a comeback thanks to, appropriately enough, the Red Sox. It burns me to say it, but I have to give props to the Sox high-sock contingent (Nixon, Mueller, Bellhorn and Millar), who have started wearing stirrups rather than plain red socks. Moreover, Lukas (perhaps unwittingly) reveals a hidden truth about Curt Schilling’s ACLS stigmata: had Schilling not been a stirrup-wearer, the Bloody Sock never would have been. Much as that would have made me very happy, I still long for the days of the classic stirrup and continue to hope that they will soon return to banish what Lukas calls the pajama brigade, which I believe started with Scott Erickson‘s break out year with the eventual World Champion Twins in 1991.

On a related note, fellow Toaster Alex Ciepley takes a look at the various types of goatees being sported around the league. I for one can’t stand the goatee (or Van Dyke for you facial hair sticklers out there). I remember when they broke into the league in the early ’90s on the faces of men such as Mark McGwire and Dan Gladden as grunge swept the nation and haphazard shaving became all the rage, turning us into a nation of evil twins. Despite my dislike for the style, even I couldn’t resist trying one out for about three days in 1993 just for yucks (though I was more Maynard G. Krebs than evil twin). That was more then a decade ago and the damn things just won’t go away. To add insult to injury, Alex not only drags Goose Gossage’s fu-manchu (a facial styling I also once emulated, resulting in something closer to James Hetfield) into the discussion, but calls Matt Clement’s facial merkin “infinitely more appealing,” than Gossages Hall-worthy stash. Well, I never!

To my memory, Goose was the only non captain to successfully circumvent Boss Steinbrenner’s rule against facial hair below the corners of the mouth (though in recent years David Wells, Roger Clemens and Jason Giambi have all gotten a bit lazy with the sublingual shaving at one time or another, none of them got past the Don Johnson/George Michael stage). Thurman Munson’s 1976 Topps card remains the only time I’ve ever seen a Steinbrenner-era Yankee with full-grown hairs on his chiny-chin-chin, and while I think Thurman looked good in a full beard, I think the Yankees, whose uniforms have remained virtually unchanged for nearly 70 years, are better for it.


There were lots of reasons for Yankee fans to smile last night as the Bronx Bombers beat up on the Brewers, 12-3. Joe Torre, veins bulging from his neck, saying everything he could to get run by Larry Vanover in the sixth inning was my favorite, but Alex Rodriguez stole the show, going 4-4, hitting two home runs, and, in the process, becoming the youngest player in the history of the game to reach 400 for his career. (Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano added solo shots of their own; man, ever notice how all of Jeter’s dingers come in meaningless situations…That’s a gag, son–gag, that is.) Though Rodriguez still hasn’t won over some Yankee fans, he’s one of the more remarkable players of his generation. Yeah, he’s a prima dona, but so are most superstars. The guy works hard, and plays hard. Currently leading the league in homers, runs scored and runs batted in, he’s having a fine season, aside from some notable defensive lapses. All I can say is that I sure appreciate watching him play.



O.K., man, forget this, garbage: The Yanks are going to spank the Brewers tonight, and that’s that.

The Write Way and the Wrong Way

I generally try to avoid commenting on the mainstream sports media, in part because I rarely bother to read, watch or listen to it. I get all I need from the outstanding community of bloggers of which I’m privileged to be a part and independent on-line powerhouses such as Baseball Prospectus. MLB.com gives me the quotes and news of a roster move or a change in the rotation and ESPN.com is useful for their stats and pitch-by-pitch data, but neither offer much in the way of useful commentary (though ESPN boasts some top columnists). The daily papers are generally worse than redundant.

Still, sometimes when things take an unexpected turn, I like to breeze through the dailies, or dial on over to WFAN to find out how the mainstream is presenting things. In doing so today, I happened upon a pair of articles in The Star-Ledger that are fairly unexceptional on their own, but are fascinating taken together.

For one reason or another, Star-Ledger staffers Ed Price and Dan Graziano have tackled the exact same topic in today’s paper. That topic is, of course: “what is wrong with the Yankees and how can they fix it?” What’s fascinating is not only that the paper would run two articles on the same exact topic in the same day’s paper, but that the quality of the two articles would be so divergent.


Read it and Sheet

It was too little too late once again for the Yanks last night, as a ninth inning rally fell short, and the team lost again, this time 2-1. How about these sobering facts:

“We’re right where we deserve to be,” Jeter said. “We haven’t played well.”

He’s not kidding. The litany of numbers that demonstrate the Bombers’ futility seems endless. They’ve lost four straight series; they’re 0-22 in games in which they’ve scored three runs or less; they’re 0-28 when trailing after eight innings; and, in case you were wondering how they’re doing with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are 0-for-their-last-25 with the bases loaded, which is the longest such skid since the DH was introduced in 1973. (N.Y. Daily News)

Is Joe Torre’s job on the line? Tim Marchman doesn’t see why it shouldn’t be:

As bad as things have been for the Yankees, there hasn’t been much speculation about Joe Torre. There probably should be. A team’s lack of talent or desire or luck can’t be held against a manager, but what can and should be is careless play and a failure to get the most out of the talent on hand. Never the greatest tactician, Torre’s strength for nearly a decade has been his ability to get the most out of veteran players. If he’s not doing that, what use is he?

I don’t think Torre will be fired, but if this keeps up, Steinbrenner is going to sack somebody.

The Future, Conan?

I didn’t expect to pay much attention to this year’s amateur draft, but with the big club flailing about in Milwaukee, the picks the Yankees have made today (thus far the next Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield–in a perfect world, that is) are providing some hope as the Yankees seem to be doing a fair job of restocking their farm system, with three of their first four picks being used on college players. You can check out some of the comments to my previous post for more info, which I hope to assemble into a draft-wrap post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back in the suffocating reality of the here and now, the Yankees will try to avoid dropping their fourth straight series tonight against the Brewers. To do so, they’ll have to defeat Ben Sheets, who was nothing short of the third best pitcher in the majors last year (behind Johan Santana and Randy Johnson and well in front of the boosted Rocket). Sheets is looking to get his season back on track following a reoccurring inner ear infection that hospitalized him in May. Thus far he’s made two starts since returning from the DL, lasting just five innings in each, showing the old form against the struggling Astros in the first only to be undermined by his defense, but struggling against the Dodgers in the second. Don’t be surprised to see him put it all together against the Yankees tonight (not that I thought you would be).

When things get rough, just dream about C.J. Henry.

Buncha Losers

A little over three weeks ago, on Sunday May 15 in Oakland, the Yankees put together a two run seventh inning rally against A’s reliever Ricardo Rincon to beat the Athletics 6-4. The victory was their sixth straight win and pulled their record even for the first time in more than a month. The Yankees then went on to win their next four and ten of their next twelve to push their record a full six games over .500.

The last of those games, a 6-3 Friday night victory at home against the rival Red Sox, also involved a late game rally, when the Yanks touched up Tim Wakefield and Alan Embree for five runs in the sixth inning. Basking in the glow of that victory and the 16-2 run that it capped, pushing the Yankees six games over .500, I claimed that the Yankees had “passed the test” by taking two of three from the Mets, sweeping the Tigers, and rallying to defeat the Red Sox. Since then, the Yankees have gone 1-8 against the Sox, Royals, Twins and now Brewers. Clearly my declaration was premature. With last night’s loss, the Yankees, now seven games behind the Orioles in fourth place in the east, have dipped below .500 once again.


The Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers

2004 Record: 67-94 (.416)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 68-93 (.422)

Manager: Ned Yost
General Manager: Doug Melvin

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Miller Park (95/96)

Who’s replacing whom?

Carlos Lee replaces Scott Podsednik
J.J. Hardy replaces Craig Counsell
Damian Miller replaces Gary Bennett and cuts into Chad Moeller’s playing time
Jeff Cirillo replaces Keith Ginter
Chris Magruder and Dave Krynzel inherit Ben Grieve’s playing time
Derrick Turnbow replaces Danny Kolb
Ricky Bottalico replaces Luis Vizcaino
Tommy Phelps replaces Dave Burba
Julio Santana replaces Matt Kinney
Jorge de la Rosa inherits Brook Kieschnick’s innings

Current Roster:

1B – Lyle Overbay
2B – Junior Spivey
SS – J.J. Hardy
3B – Jeff Cirillo
C – Damian Miller
RF – Geoff Jenkins
CF – Brady Clark
LF – Carlos Lee


R – Bill Hall (IF)
R – Wes Helms (3B)
S – Chris Magruder (OF)
R – Chad Moeller (C)
L – Dave Krynzel (OF)


R – Ben Sheets
L – Chris Capuano
R – Victor Santos
R – Wes Obermueller
L – Doug Davis


R – Derrick Turnbow
R – Ricky Bottalico
L – Tommy Phelps
R – Matt Wise
L – Jorge de la Rosa
R – Julio Santana
R – Gary Glover

DL: L – Russell Branyan (3B)

Typical Line-up

R – Brady Clark (CF)
R – Jeff Cirillo (3B)
L – Geoff Jenkins (RF)
R – Carlos Lee (LF)
L – Lyle Overbay (1B)
R – Junior Spivey (2B)
R – Damian Miller (C)
R – J.J. Hardy (SS)

If the Brewers were to maintain their current .464 winning percentage, they would finish 2005 with their best record since switching over to the National League following the 1997 season, but that’s not the good news for Brewer fans. No, that would be their current Pythagorean winning percentage of .549.


Middle of the Road

Another lost weekend. The Bombers dropped two-of-three to the Twins. They are 1-5 on their current 12-game road trip, 28-28 on the season, and six games behind the Orioles. Heard any good jokes lately? Torii Hunter told New York reporters:

“They’ve got some great guys over there,” Hunter said. “But it just seems like they’re not having any fun. Even when you’re losing, you’ve got to have fun out here. It seems like it’s all controlled over there. We play our music no matter what.

“I know they’ve got a lot of expectations on them, and that makes it harder. But to me, that’s no way to play.”

The Yanks start a three-game series against the Brewers tonight.

The Stopper?

I didn’t catch much of last night’s 6-3 Yankee loss to the Twins, though from what I saw, I caught plenty of it the first three times they played it in Kansas City. The big difference last night was that the Yanks got out to an early 3-0 lead, thanks in large part to a 2-run dinger from Gary Sheffield. But Moose couldn’t hold it, losing the lead when Lew Ford smacked a 3-run dinger in the fifth to add to the solo shot hit earlier in the game by . . . Brent Abernathy?! The Yanks didn’t get Abernathy out all night, as it turns out. I think that about says it all.

Tonight, Chein-Ming Wang finally gets to take his turn in the rotation following his turn as Yankee tournaquet last Sunday against Boston. At this point I have more confidence with Wang on the mound than with any other starter, Johnson included. That said, Wang’s only poor major league start came on the turf in Tampa Bay when those groundouts he unerringly throws kept scooting past the Yankee defenders. Of course, even if Wang is effective, it likely won’t mean much unless the Yankees can score more than three runs for the first time in a week.

The Twins

So what the hell happened in Kansas City? Steven Goldman offers his two cents on today’s Pinstriped Blog. Joe Torre says it all comes back around to starting pitching. If you ask me, the pitching wasn’t the problem. Yes, you’d like to see the Yankee starters dominate a hapless offense such as the Royals’, but the 4.00 ERA they posted over three games is more than half a run better than the staff’s season mark and Torre didn’t have to use his bullpen much at all (2 2/3 innings of Sturtze, 1 of Gordon).

No, I blame the offense. This team is simply giving away outs, be it by starting Tony Womack and Ruben Sierra, a series of awful baserunning blunders, or simply by hacking their way into outs at the plate. The last of those is enough to make one wonder if Don Mattingly will ever get any heat from the local media. Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect Donnie baseball as much as any pinstripe-blooded Yankee fan, but back when the Yankees were looking for a hitting coach after losing the 2003 World Series, I wondered if Donnie’s personal history of contact hitting was less than ideal for a team built around working the count, drawing walks, and knocking them home with big blasts. Though I was very pleased when Mattingly was hired less than a week later, and thrill to the site of Donnie with his beat-up little black book consulting hitters before and after at-bats, I still wonder.

Heading into Minnesota, the Yankee bats get a break, as they will miss both Johan Santana (who struck out 14 Indians last night) and Hometown Brad Radke, who has walked just three men all season. But then again, to an offense that just scored a grand total of three runs against D.J. Carrasco, Ryan Jensen and the Royals bullpen, Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays and Carlos Silva could just as easily be Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz.


What Might Have Been

Mark Armour has a nifty piece over at The Baseball Analysts about the Yankees first free agent draft. It’s a must-read for Yankee fans, who may or may not know that Reggie Jackson was not the Yankees first–or second or third–cherce in 1977. Armour details what went down and asks, what would have happened if the Yankees had gotten their man, Bobby Grich? Who knows if they would have won two straight World Serious’? Oscar Gamble would have never left, Bucky Dent would have never been a Yankee, Billy Martin may have slept a bit better at night, and the Yankee clubhouse would have been a more harmonious–and for the sportswriters, dull–place. Without Reggie, there would have been no Bronx Zoo, and, who knows, maybe Grich would have eventually made the Hall of Fame.

The Pits

Read it and (s)weep.

The Yankees vs. Dignity

The Yankees try to salvage their dignity tonight against the Royals as Carl Pavano looks to do the same following the pasting he took at the hands of the Red Sox on Saturday (five runs on eleven hits in 3 2/3 IP). In his way stands . . . Ryan Jensen?

The 29-year-old Jensen failed to stick in the Giants’ rotation a few years back, posted a 5.36 ERA in triple-A Fresno last year before being released by the Giants over the winter. Filling an injury hole in the Royals rotation, he’s thus far made two starts for Kansas City: 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in 5 IP for a win over the Cardinals (not bad!), and 7 runs on 8 hits and a walk in 3 1/3 against the Angels (bad!).

The Yanks sure could use a win tonight going into a weekend series against the Twins, and the offense really needs to get going heading into Minnesota, even if the Yankees did get a huge break by drawing the bottom three Twins starters this weekend.

To that end, Joe Torre held yet another team meeting after last night’s game, in large part due to the terrible approach his hitters were displaying at the plate. Quothe Joe afterwards:

I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t see a lot of patience. It just didn’t feel like we were having good at-bats. I’m trying to find a different way to say it, but we didn’t make [the opposing pitchers] work like we normally do. It’s something I’m surprised about and certainly it’s no fun watching it.

Indeed, going into the ninth inning down three runs, each of the first four batters swung at the first pitch, with only Robinson Cano having a positive result from that swing. On the night, the Yankees made seven outs on the first pitch of an at-bat.

He also seemed frustrated with the teams’ general lack of heads-up play adding, “We’ve got to think better than we think.” Here’s hoping they have their thinking caps on tonight.

The Summer of Second Chances (Part Two)

Book Excerpt

Chapter Two from “Forging Genius”

By Steven Goldman

(Part Two of Two; click here for Part One)

In 1841, the United States had three presidents. In the Bronx, 1946 was the year of three managers. McCarthy’s replacement, veteran Yankees catcher Bill Dickey, refused to finish out the season under MacPhail. The season was completed under interim manager/organization man Johnny Neun. Neun “had let it be known after about a week that he knew now what McCarthy and Dickey had been talking about and, by God, he didn’t have to take that from anybody either.” The second-division Cincinnati Reds seemed a better option, and off he went.

That September, Stanley Raymond “Bucky” Harris was hired to serve in an undefined executive capacity (MacPhail acted as his own general manager, and Weiss, the club’s farm director since 1932, was on hand to take care of anything that might escape his notice. Barrow, ostensibly a consultant to the club, was also available, though MacPhail never called) and asked to evaluate the team. Almost a quarter century earlier, Harris had been the twenty-eight-year-old “boy manager” who had guided the Washington Senators to consecutive pennants in his initial seasons at the helm. After that the going was not nearly so smooth. Harris’s initial command of the Senators lasted until 1928, at which time owner Clark Griffith terminated him, in part for not following up on his earlier success, and in part for failing to recognize the talents of second base prospect Buddy Myer.

Harris moved on to Detroit, where in five seasons he failed to produce a first-division finish. Still in demand, in 1934 he became the first manager hired by Tom Yawkey as owner of the Boston Red Sox. The team’s 76–76 record was its best since 1918, but Harris clashed with general manager Eddie Collins and was dismissed. He returned to Washington, where sentimental Senators owner Clark Griffith was never loathe to reemploy an old pal. In the following eight seasons, the club finished fourth once and otherwise could be counted on for a sixth or seventh place finish. Harris made way for another Griffith buddy, Ossie Bleuge.

Harris then briefly managed the Philadelphia Phillies under owner Bill Cox, whose own term was foreshortened by Commissioner of Baseball Judge Landis after it was revealed that Cox had bet on his own club. Cox fired Harris after ninety-two games, claiming that he had called his players “a bunch of jerks.” In fact, the players threatened to strike when informed of Harris’s termination. Said Harris, “If there is any jerk connected with this ball club, it’s the president of it.” That seemed to have been the last encore for the graying, forty-six-year-old, non-boy manager. When MacPhail hired him, Harris had been serving as the general manager of the International League’s Buffalo club. This was actually fine with Harris; after two decades on the managerial merry-go-round, he desired to become an executive—preferably with the Detroit Tigers, but if their general manager’s job wasn’t open, a job with the Yankees would have to do.


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.


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