"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Wright Stuff

That headline is corny as hell, but it’s much deserved. Jaret Wright‘s second start since returning from a shoulder injury was even better the first as he needed just 99 pitches to hurl seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays, holding them to four hits and, after a trio of free passes in a shaky first inning, no walks through his final six frames.

Not that his evening was without excitement. Wright kicked things off by walking the game’s first two batters, but then settled down to strike out Vernon Wells on three pitches, get Shea Hillenbrand to pop out to second, and get ahead of Corey Koskie 0-2. Unable to put Koskie away, Wright then walked him on seven pitches to load the bases, but got out of the inning when Gregg Zaun to flied out to the warning track in left on a 1-2 count.

After a pair of 1-2-3 innings that included three strikeouts, Wright gave up a lead-off double to Hillenbrand in the fourth. Hillenbrand moved to third on a Koskie groundout, and Joe Torre brought his infield in to try to preserve what was then a 1-0 Yankee lead. On a 1-2 count, Gregg Zaun hit a bouncer to Robinson Cano at second, which Cano caught on his heels and fired home to try to catch the charging Hillenbrand. As we’ve seen many times before this season, Jorge Posada has finally learned to block the plate, and he did so again on this occasion, keeping Hillenbrand away from the dish long enough to apply the tag and preserve the Yankee lead.

The Jays threatened again in the fifth when one-out singles by Orlando Hudson and Russ Adams put runners on the corners, but Wright got Frank Catalanotto to ground in a double play to again keep the score 1-0.

Wright then retired the next five Blue Jays he faced but, nursing a still-slim 2-0 lead in the seventh, gave up a two-out single to Erik Hinske. Wright then battled Orlando Hudson, falling behind 1-0, then getting two strikes (one looking, one swinging), only to fall behind 3-2, the third ball being a wild pitch that moved Hinske to second. On his final pitch of the night, Wright muscled up and blew Hudson away to end the inning, after which Wright left the mound with a furious fist pump and a primal scream with which he seemed to be releasing the frustrations that had built up over more than three months of injury rehab.

With Toronto starter Scott Downs out of the game, the Yankees responded to Wright’s performance with a four spot in the bottom of the seventh and added another run in the eighth to top off a convincing 7-0 win and give bullpen aces Rivera and Gordon another much-needed night off.

The first two Yankee runs in the seventh scored when Hideki picked up Alex Rodriguez (who had struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded and none out) by singling home Tony Womack and Bernie Williams, who had reached on a single and a walk respectively. There was a close play at the plate on Bernie, who slid in feet first. Gregg Zaun failed to block the plate as well as Posada (!), and tagged Bernie’s folded up right leg after as his extended left leg touched the dish. The ump got it right, and the replays were pretty clear, but Toronto manager John Gibbons got his money worth and an early shower with a classic, bill-to-bill argument with his doppleganger, home plate ump Marvin Hudson as the Jays dropped their fourth straight game.

By The Way

  • Derek Jeter sat out the game with a sore thumb. In his place, Felix Escalona went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a hit-by-pitch. Jeter is expected to be back in the line-up tonight.
  • Jason Giambi broke an 0-for-21 slump by going 2 for 3 with a resounding RBI single in the seventh.
  • The final Yankee run scored when an Alex Rodriguez double off the top of the left field wall cashed in a lead-off double by . . . Tony Womack!? Leading off the game in Jeter’s absence, Womack picked up his ninth extra base hit of the year in 341 plate appearances, raising his slugging percentage to .273.
  • Bubba Crosby, who incidentally has no extra base hits in the majors this season, has not started a game since July 28, and has just four plate appearances since that start, fewer than Escalona, who has appeared in just two games since being called up on August 8.

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1 TracedOut   ~  Aug 23, 2005 1:04 am

1.  If Wright is anything near the pitcher he was last year, God, he could be a savior down the stretch.

Also, watching Al Leiter pitch is the most unpleasant experience on television, on par with every Act II of Fear Factor. THROW STRIKES!

2 bp1   ~  Aug 23, 2005 4:50 am

2.  A game to shut up the Joe Morgan's of the world, who say the Yankees can't score runs without the long ball. Yeah - we squandered a few opportunities, but we did ok.

Tony "Quickly Oh For Two" Womack even had a couple hits. Whoo hoo!! (Not to be taken as an endorsement for hitting TW leadoff. Hopefully that's the last time we'll see him start a game this year.)

And didn't the Jays manager get tossed after the Bernie play at home plate? Bernie was clearly safe (and Womack was clearly out on the steal).

I think Sheff is due for a big night. He's brewing.


3 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:07 am

3.  Yeah, Sheff seems to have cooled off a bit in the last week or so. Although Alex Rodriguez whiffed with the bases juiced in the seventh, he had a good night, with two doubles and his 100th RBI of the season. He just missed hitting one out in his second at bat, fly ball to center, and made a nice play on G. Zaun in the seventh.

Clutch hit by Matsui after Rodriguez struck out too. And good for Escalona picking up that single because he was terrible in the previous two at bats.

Anyone else out there like Orlando Hudson? He's a fun player to watch, a really smooth fielder.

4 JVarghese81   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:18 am

4.  Alex,
You are not alone in liking Orlando Hudson. We used to have the MLB package last season and I would actually watch some of their games just to see him out there playing - he just looks like he's having fun and he makes some absolutely spectacular plays.

(as an aside, another reason my roomates and I sometimes switched over to Toronto home games were the very attractive girls they would have working the area behind the plate - I don't know whose idea that was but they should be given a raise.)

5 JVarghese81   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:26 am

5.  Also, not sure if anyone cares but Ramiro has started pitching in the minors (AAA now) and so far, he's done all right...


This could be a very good low $, high impact player for the rest of the season and hey, at the very least could save some innings from the other bullpen arms right?

6 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:32 am

6.  JVarghese81...

You are right about the women behind the Blue Jays backstop. I noticed that a few years back and I wondered if they'd sit down during Yankee at bats, so as not to distract the Blue Jays pitching. I seriously thought they did it to distract the opposing pitcher.....but they're always out there.

Much better than looking at some schmuck on his cell phone wave and grin like a drooling idiot. Look maw, Ahm awn the tee-vee. Ah-hyuck-hyuck-hyuck.....

7 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:45 am

7.  Here's some Bernie-love from an article by Bob Herog in Newsday (http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-spyside214392911aug21,0,5663810.story?coll=ny-yankees-print):

Torre is enjoying this recent stretch of vintage Williams at the plate. He related, with a laugh, how Williams still ignores the lineup card posted in the clubhouse and prefers to ask his manager if he's playing. "He likes the personal touch," Torre said. "I've probably had more conversations with him than any other player and I cherish that relationship with him. He's very deep and he's very caring. He wants it very badly. We've talked about doing it this time of year."

As for what Williams might do someday when summers and baseball are not his time of year, Torre said, "He'll get that guitar and live the life of an artist. I look at him that way. He's a very dignified person. I never met Arthur Ashe, but he [Bernie] reminds me of him, with the elegance of what he does and being soft spoken."

8 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2005 5:50 am

8.  The Daily News gave a more specific account of Torre and Bernie's routine (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/story/339198p-289707c.html):

Torre spoke fondly yesterday about how Williams often would walk into the clubhouse, stride right past the lineup card posted on the wall - without looking at it - and then come on into the manager's office. "He'd say, 'Whatdya got?' and I'd look at him like, 'What do you mean?'" Torre said with a chuckle. "He'd say 'Whatdya got?' and I'd be like, 'You're playing' and then he'd say 'OK' and leave. He wanted the interaction. He wanted to hear it from me."

9 Knuckles   ~  Aug 23, 2005 6:12 am

9.  They should get Ramiro as many opportunities as is prudent in the next week down in Columbus (hopefully some of them being high-leverage), and maybe he could be another shot in the arm for the pen down the stretch.

10 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2005 6:26 am

10.  Also, according to the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/sports/baseball/23pins.html):

General Manager Brian Cashman said that Chien-Ming Wang, who has missed six weeks with a shoulder injury, was being brought back with the idea of returning as a starter. Wang, who is throwing batting practice every few days in Tampa, Fla., would then progress to pitching minor league games.

"If he gets through all that, September is very realistic," Cashman said. "He's come a long way and has some hurdles to clear, but it would be great to get him back."

11 markp   ~  Aug 23, 2005 6:39 am

11.  Hudson should have won the GG last year. He's a magician out there.
Kaat and the gang mentioned another great Blue Jay defender last night: Devon White. I find it odd that when great WS catches are listed, his amazing catch is never included. Usually they leave out the ones from a few decades ago (except of course, Mays).
Adding Wang to the picture would obvioulsy be great. If he returns to the rotation, does Leiter finally leave it?

12 Shaun P   ~  Aug 23, 2005 6:46 am

12.  If Wang comes back (crosses fingers), Leiter has to be the odd man out . . . presuming Unit doesn't tweak that back of his any further.

Anyone have an update on Kevin Brown? I remember reading somewhere that he might be back in September to be used out of the 'pen. I don't know if I like the idea, but I'm curious nonetheless.

13 singledd   ~  Aug 23, 2005 6:48 am

13.  Cano has made a number of good throws to the plate, as he did last night. The kid is cool under pressure and a swell player. But methinks he has a swelled head. With him batting 9th, I would like to see Womack spell him at 2nd once a month... to give him a rest and keep him hungry.

Wright appears to have matured, as he realizes there is a difference between pitching and throwing. I think being injured and questioning his baseball 'mortality' has helped this guy.

When we have an off day, is Torre skipping Leiters start? Is this something that can be done?

Small in the pen is not a bad idea. We need a long-relief guy, and to take some innings away from Sturtze/Gordon. He is also our # '5 1/2' starter, as I believe he will pitch just about everytime Leiter pitches.

I don't know why Bubba wasn't in for Bernie last last night. If we do go to the PS, Torre has got to get the Bench in better shape. Anyone know the story on Sierra?

14 rbj   ~  Aug 23, 2005 7:00 am

14.  It'd be great if Wang can come back.
Shaun P, as for that other name, don't even mention it lest it return.

15 Shaun P   ~  Aug 23, 2005 8:04 am

15.  rbj, I hope He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Browned . . . err Named doesn't come back either. But IF he could pitch well enough, I'd like to see the Yanks get something out of him.

singledd, Will Carroll says Sierra is starting a short rehab assignment soon. I'd still rather see Andy Phillips . . . only 8 days to expanded rosters, so I guess I can dream.

16 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 23, 2005 8:34 am

16.  BP1, you're absolutely correct about Gibbons being ejected following Bernie being called safe in the second. Sorry 'bout that, folks.

As for the Wang etc. Mendoza could be handy, but I'm not confident that he'd be any better than Proctor or Small at this stage, and the Yankees might not get enough of a chance to find out.

Obviously a healthy Wang would be huge for this team, though I have some concerns about him coming back too quickly, as I want him to be a part of the rotation next year and beyond.

With Phillips getting the shaft, Sierra is desperately needed, but it seems he's had nothing but set backs. That hamstring tear was a doozy.

Finally: Brown? After Game Seven last year I (among many others) hoped he'd never again throw a pitch for the Yankees. I still feel that way. He did this team no good while active and can do them no good down the stretch. I honestly believe he's thrown his last major league pitch.

17 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 23, 2005 9:01 am

17.  I fixed the bit on Gibbons, by the way, with some new material about the inning.

18 dtrain   ~  Aug 23, 2005 9:59 am

18.  Geez, the similarity between Gibbons and the ump is pretty freaking eery.

19 Schteeve   ~  Aug 23, 2005 2:30 pm

19.  Cliff, I so hope you are correct about Kevin Brown. Man do I hate that surly ineffective so and so.

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