"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Wright Stuff

Don’t look now, but Jaret Wright is turning into a legitimate number five starter. In four starts in May including last night’s victory over the Red Sox, Wright has posted the following line:

22 1/3 IP, 18 H, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 BB, 13 K, 2-1, 1.12 WHIP, 2.82 ERA

Last night, Wright held the Red Sox scoreless through five innings before leaving with a tweaked groin. Wright initially injured himself while trying to dodge a line drive by Kevin Youkilis leading off the first inning. The ball wound up sticking in Wright’s ribs for the first out. In the fifth, an attempt to dodge another comebacker by Youkilis, which Wright also turned into an out, exacerbated the injury, ending his night after the inning.

Given Wright’s predilection for being hit with flying objects in the later part of last season and the fact that the injury prone hurler has managed to stay healthy while the rest of the Yankee roster has crumbled around him, it seemed only a matter of time before Wright would get his. Fortunately, the Yankees don’t expect Wright to miss his next start, though one wonders if they’ll rethink their plans to skip Aaron Small’s turn this weekend, instead using Small on regular rest to give Wright an extra day off before his next start.

While Wright was stymieing the Red Sox, who stranded seven men against the Yankee starter through five innings, the Yankees were pecking away at Tim Wakefield. Johnny Damon started the game by wrapping a homer around the Pesky pole. In the third Damon followed a one-out Andy Phillips walk by hustling a single to center into a double. Derek Jeter then singled home both men on Wakefield’s next pitch to put the Yanks up 3-0. Wakefield handed the Yanks another run in the sixth when Alex Rodriguez reached first on a passed ball after striking out swinging, then took second on another passed ball, moved to third on a fielder’s choice, and scored on yet another passed ball one pitch before Terrence Long struck out to end the inning.

With Wright out of the game, Scott Proctor came on and gave that run right back on singles by Trot Nixon, Alex Cora and Doug Mirabelli to make it 4-1 after six.

After getting Phillips and Damon out on three pitches to start the seventh, Wakefield lost the strike zone, walking Jeter and Sheffield on his next eight pitches. Jeter and Sheffield then executed a double steal as Wakefield fell behind 2-0 on Alex Rodriguez, who then teed off on a pitch in the zone. Somehow Rodriguez lost track of the ball off the bat and kept looking up as if he though he had popped it up, meanwhile the ball was sailing into the Monster seats in left field for a three-run homer, making it 7-1 Yanks and driving Wakefield from the game.

Red Sox again answered Rodriguez in the bottom of the inning when Youkilis and Loretta lead-off the inning with walks off Proctor. Proctor then got David Ortiz to line-out to center for the first out and got ahead of Manny Ramirez 0-2 only to put his next pitch on a tee for Manny, who launched it to dead center for a three-run jack of his own that ended Proctor’s night.

Mike Myers came on and walked Trot Nixon before yielding to Kyle Farnsworth, who finished the inning, but not before adding a walk of his own, the fourth of the inning. Farnsworth then issued one-out walks to Youkilis and Mark Loretta in the eighth, forcing Joe Torre to bring in Mariano Rivera for a five-out save.

Rivera’s first task was facing David Ortiz, who represented the tying run with men on first and second and one out and the Yankees up 7-4 in the eighth. Rivera’s first pitch was inside, belt high and Ortiz lined it foul beyond the Red Sox dugout. His next had a bead on Ortiz’s heavily padded right elbow, which the lefty slugger leaves hanging in the strike zone as he leans over the plate. Ortiz checked his swing and fouled that pitch straight back to make it 0-2. Posada then called for high heat up around Ortiz’s eyes, but Rivera missed high and away for ball one. Rivera then took aim at Ortiz’s elbow again and Big Papi popped the pitch up to Jeter behind second. That elbow pad makes a mighty nice target for Rivera’s cutter, which appeared to crack Ortiz’s bat on that pop out as a pissed off Papi snapped his club over his knee on his way back to the dugout.

Having retired Ortiz, Rivera missed Posada’s low and away target on a 1-0 pitch to Manny Ramirez, leaving it belt high on the outside part of the plate, where Manny was able to get the barrel of the bat on it and line it past Jeter for an RBI single that made it 7-5. Mo then got Trot Nixon to pop out foul behind third for the final out and pitched around a one-out Alex Cora single in the ninth to pull the series even at a game a piece.

In Other News:

Jorge Posada pulled up lame while running out a groundout in the second inning. He finished the game without further sign of injury, but is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a strained tendon behind his knee. According to Joe Torre, Posada was putting heat on the tendon between innings all night last night.

Also, to clear room for Sheffield on the 25-man roster, the Yankees designated Colter Bean for assignment, an unnecessarily harsh demotion for Bean as he is only in his second option year (he was first added to the 40-man roster in November 2004) and the Yankees had just 39 men on their 40-man roster with Bean included. Even if the Yankees wanted to clear more room on their 40-man, they could easily have moved Sturtze, Pavano or Matsui to the 60-day DL. Besides which, Sheffield was already on the 40-man roster, meaning a space did not have to be cleared for him. The Yankees mistreatment of Bean remains utterly inexplicable.

Making matters worse, Scott Erickson and Terrence Long remain on the 25-man roster. Not only that, but Long has actually started the last two games. Hopefully the latter issue will be resolved starting tonight with Sheffield, Giambi and Melky Cabrera appearing in the line-up together for the first time this year as the Yanks look to beat up on Matt Clement to capture an unlikely series win. Torre has said he plans to bat Sheffield, Giambi and Rodriguez in that order in spots three through five in the line-up. Me likey.

Finally, Peter Abraham reports that the Yankees will call up a pitcher to replace Bean before tonight’s game, likely at the expense of Kevin Reese. Peter thinks the hurler is likely to be Ramiro Mendoza. Me likey that’n too.

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