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.