Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bombers Come Up Duds (4/27)

Waste 14 Walks in 4-2 Loss to Rays

If you put last night's Yankees-Devil Rays game to music, it would go something like this. You would hear Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" blare from The Stadium's speakers 14 times. That's how many walks the Yankee hitters were issued in 10 innings. Pat Benatar would yell out, "hit me with your best shot, fire away" as the Yankees failed in one clutch situation after another. Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" would play as Robinson Cano and Bubba Crosby ran the Yankees out of one rally, and Cano would end another threat all by himself. The somewhat depressing strains of Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" accompany the Rays go-ahead rally against Mariano Rivera in the top of the 10th, and things are closed out with Europe's "The Final Countdown" as Gary Sheffield ends the game with a bases loaded ground out to third.

The game was far from melodious from a fan's point of view. No matter which team you were rooting for. The Devil Rays pitching kept giving the Yankees one chance after another, but as has happened so often this season, the Yankees were horrendous in clutch situations. 2-15 with runners in scoring position was last night's final total. That enabled the Devil Rays to rally against Rivera in the 10th as he was working his second inning. Joey Gathright led off with a single, and Nick Green drew a rare walk from Rivera. Carl Crawford then laced an RBI double to left for a 3-2 lead. Two batters later, Ty Wiggington provided some insurance with sacrifice fly.

The Yankees had one last chance in the bottom of the 10th against closer and former Yankee Dan Miceli. Jorge Posada led off with a walk, but Cano and pinch-hitter Bernie Williams, batting for Crosby, both struck out. Johnny Damon worked a walk and Derek Jeter singled through the left side to load the bases. Rays' manager Joe Maddon saw that Sheffield was 6-12 against Miceli and quickly went to the bullpen for Shawn Camp. Sheffield hit a sharp ground which took a bad hop, hitting Wiggington near his left shoulder. But the third baseman kept the ball in front of him and easily threw out Sheffield to end the rally and earn Camp his second save.

About the only bright spot for the Yankees was the effort of starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang who was raked by the Orioles last Friday night. Wang looked shaky again early, allowing a run in each of the first 2 innings before settling down over the next five. For the night he allowed 3 hits, walked 3, and struck out 3 in 7 innings.

Devil Rays starter Seth McClung came into action with a 10.19 ERA, but only allowed Sheffield's 5th inning home run that tied the game. One of the Yankees best chances turned out to be their most embarrassing as well. Robinson Cano led off the sixth with a single against reliever Travis Harper. Bubba Crosby laid down a perfect bunt, so perfect in fact that Harper and first baseman Travis Lee expected each other to pick it up. Johnny Damon followed with a sacrifice bunt of his own, moving both runners into scoring position with just one out. But Derek Jeter hit one right to Wigginton at third and Cano was off with contact. In the meantime Bubba Crosby raced towards third and made it 90 percent of the way there. Then turned around and headed back towards second. At that same moment Cano gave himself up and was tagged out, and Crosby was a sitting duck between second and third. End of rally.

The Yankees tried to break the 2-2 tie again in the eighth. Cano lead off with a walk and moved to second on another good bunt by Crosby. Johnny Damon followed with a bullet back at pitcher Chad Orvella, who snared the comebacker and had Cano dead to rights off of second for the second out of the inning. Damon stole second, his third steal of the night, and Jeter followed with a walk. Sheffield bounced into a force out to end yet another threat.


Robinson Cano's 2 hits extended his hitting streak to 13 games and raised his average to .358

The Yankees stole a season high 5 bases. In addition to Johnny Damon's 3, Bubba Crosby and Alex Rodriguez swiped 1 each.

Carl Crawford returned to the lineup after missing time for his grandmother's funeral. He had the game winning hit, scored a run, walked, and stole a base.

Gary Sheffield's home run was the 434th of his career, tying him with Frank Thomas, who also homered yesterday, on the all-time list.

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