Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Hair's Breadth

After taking 2 of 3 from the Red Sox, the Yanks come home to face the Royals--the 13-losses-in-a-row Royals. The Yanks had Mike Mussina against Scott Elarton, a once promising, then injured, now mediocre and itinerant pitcher. The elements all seemed to be together for a win on Friday night.

Not at all, it turns out. Moose turned out another quality start, but just barely--allowing three runs in six innings. "Everyday" Scott Proctor got slapped around, allowing Kansas City to tie the game at four in the seventh inning. In the eighth, the Royals went ahead on a hit parade against Kyle Farnsworth, Angel Berroa slamming a three run shot to deep left, which was almost--and the key word is almost--caught over the fence by a leaping Melky Cabrera. The ball actually glanced off that cesta Cabrera calls a glove on its way to the Monument Park walkway. A quarter of a second earlier, Melky catches that ball, and the inning is over.

This was a remote-control-slam and shut off the TV moment. Then, once I calmed down, I remembered these were the Royals. The Yanks scored one in the eighth, and then the top of the ninth inning was played in a driving rain. Once that was over, the umps ordered the tarp be placed on the field.

Not willing to watch the normal Channel 9 programming (the ten o'clock news, where it seemed that four out of the first five stories presented were about bus accidents) I tuned in the Yanks on's audio feed, while La Chiquita and I sat around in the warm, sticky night, my computer's tinny speakers giving the feel of listening to a rain delay on a transistor radio.

La Chiquita gave up about an hour in, and I was about to head to bed when the radio feed announced that Yankees programming would resume in three minutes. Two hours after the delay started, the game resumed, with bases empty, none out, and a pitcher not the Royals' proclaimed closer on the mound.

Terrence Long, pinch-hitting for Kelly Stinnett, blooped one to center for a hit. One out later, the Captain--who earlier collected his 2000th and 2001st hits, keying the Yanks' earlier rallies--walked. Gary Sheffield, whose swing is not yet back in sync after his two week plus layoff, roped one to center, which converted infielder Esteban German dived for and almost caught. Here, the Royals caught a break from the rain, because the ball did not roll far on the soggy grass. Usually, plays like that in the Yankee Stadium outfield go to the wall, and Jeter ties the game. As it was, it was first and third, one out, for Jason Giambi, with the tying run 90 feet away.

The Royals turned to lefty Andy Sisco to save their first win in two weeks. With a 2-1 count, Sisco grooved a fastball to Giambi, which Jason sadly hit on the ground. The Royals might have gotten another break from the rain, as Giambi slipped getting out of the batter's box. Still, given how slow the lumbering firstbaseman is, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Double play, 4-6-3, game over.


So here's where the Yankees' health stands right now. On the DL: Hideki Matsui (broken arm, maybe back in September), Tanyon Sturtze (torn rotator cuff, out for year), Bubba Crosby (strained hamstring), Shawn Chacon (hematoma), Octavio Dotel (recovering from elbow surgery), Carl Pavano (total corporeal breakdown). On the roster, unable to play due to injury: Jorge Posada (torn hamstring), Jaret Wright (pulled groin). Injured but playing: Gary Sheffield (wrist, able to DH but not take the field), Johnny Damon (foot, needs rest and/or time at DH), Bernie Williams (bad knee, last I heard).

While some of this stuff sorts itself out, Koyie Hill is the #2 catcher, Terrence Long the #4 outfielder, and Colter Bean is waiting to see if he cleared waivers. Did I miss anything?

(Actually, looking at the Yanks' transaction logs, I did. Last weekend, Mitch Jones had a day with the big club, and then was optioned right back to Columbus.)

Waiting in the wings to be Yankees are Dotel, Durazo, Carlos Pena, and possibly Richard Hidalgo and Jason Romano. The Boss can't complain that Brian Cashman isn't working hard for his raise.

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