“I missed two balls tonight and that’s unacceptable,” Damon said. “I know that stuff happens sometimes, but catching routine fly balls should not be that much of a problem.”
The Yankees tried to rally in the ninth inning against closer B.J. Ryan, but all hope quickly ended when Alex Rodriguez tried to stretch a bloop single into a double. The ball was just out of the reach of first baseman Lyle Overbay, who tracked it down, and in one motion slid on one knee, righted himself and fired a one-hop strike to a waiting John McDonald who tagged out A-Rod for the first out of the inning. It didn't help that A-Rod was running at half speed down to first base and then stumbled as he tried to turn on the after burners.
Darrell Rasner, with the help of three double play grounders, pitched his heart out, allowing just a solo home run to Adam Lind in the seventh inning that tied the game at one apiece. But after scoring a run in the first inning on a Damon walk and Bobby Abreu double, the Yankees couldn't muster anything against A.J. Burnett. Burnett won his 16th game of the season and his sixth straight. His mix of a powerful fastball and hard breaking off-speed pitches lead to 13 strikeouts, three of them by Jason Giambi, who garnered the "Golden Sombrero" when Ryan also K'ed him in the ninth.
Damon, who was named the starting center fielder earlier in the day by Joe Girardi, nearly cost the Yankees the game in the first inning. After a one-out walk to Scutaro, Damon dropped Alex Rios' routine fly to left-center field for a two base error. But Rasner struck out Vernon Wells looking and retired Lind on a ground-out to Robinson Cano.
Abreu led off the fourth inning with his second double of the game, but A-Rod and Giambi struck out and Nady grounded out to McDonald at shortstop. An inning later, Ivan Rodriguez singled with two away and stole second base, but Damon struck out for the inning's final out. For good measure, the Yankees also stranded lead off runners in the sixth and seventh innings.
The bottom of the eighth started innocently enough as Jose Veras struck out Rod Barajas and McDonald. Inglett then reached on a single to center to set up the latest nightmare finish.
News and Notes
Hideki Matsui played his first game since June 22, going 0-3 with a strikeout. Girardi said before the game that he'll be the every day DH with Brett Gardner coming off the bench.
Joba Chamberlain played catch for the second straight day.
Girardi told reporters he'll decide on Thursday whether Phil Hughes or Carl Pavano will start Saturday's game. Of course, that was before Pavano said his neck hurt.