Friday, April 28, 2006

Yankees Bounce Back Against The Rays

Matsui Single Keys 4-1 Victory

The Yankees only managed 5 hits against Devil Rays pitching last night, but unlike the night before they came in clutch situations. Hideki Matsui, mired in a 6-41 slump, singled with the bases loaded to score two and give the Yankees the lead for good. That helped back the effective pitching of Shawn Chacon (3-1) who won his second straight start with 6-plus innings of solid work.

The Devil Rays snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth when Joey Gathright's one-out single scored Damon Hollins who had earlier doubled. Meanwhile Mark Hendrickson (1-1), the tall left-handed starter, baffled the Yankees through the first five innings, but they got a break in the sixth. After a one-out walk to Derek Jeter, Russell Branyan booted Gary Sheffield's potential double play grounder. After Alex Rodgriguez walked to load the bases, Jason Giambi followed with an RBI ground out to first baseman Travis Lee. That brought up the slumping Matsui, who was just 2 for his last 17 with runners in scoring positions. That included an inning ending ground out in the fourth with two men aboard. This time Matsui hit a bouncer back through the box that squeezed past middle infielders Tomas Perez and Ty Wiggington and into center field. Rodriguez and Sheffield scored on the play to put the Yankees ahead, 3-1.

The Rays tried to come back right away in the seventh. With one on and one out, Joe Torre replaced Chacon with lefty Mike Myers. After allowing a single to Gathright, Myers got Perez to ground out and struck out Carl Crawford to end the inning. Myers has pitched beyond all expectations this year. In 10 appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings he has yet to allow a run while allowing just 3 hits and issuing 1 walk. He has also struck out 6.

The red-hot Derek Jeter gave the Yankees some insurance when his two-out double in the bottom of the seventh scored Johnny Damon from first. Jeter was 3-3 on the night, raising his average to .408. Jeter also has 20 hits in his last 37 at-bats (a .541 clip).

After Myers and Kyle Farnsworth combined on a scoreless eighth inning, Torre tried to rest Mariano Rivera by using Tanyon Sturtze in the ninth. Torre had a quick hook, however, immediately signaling for Rivera after a lead off single by the Rays Toby Hall. Rivera, who threw 38 pitches the night before, showed no ill effects and easily retired all three men he faced for his third save.


Yankee pitching leads the AL with a 3.50 ERA; They have had a superb 1.57 ERA over the last 5 games.

Robinson Cano went 0-3 to snap his 13 game hitting streak.

Gary Sheffield nearly homered on consecutive nights, but Rays center-fielder Joey Gathright reached over the wall in left-center to pull Sheffield's drive back.

The AL East race tightened up with the Red Sox losing their second straight game while the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Orioles each won. 1.5 games separates the four teams.

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