Yank Bats Go Quiet Again
In the second of a three-game series at Miller Park, the Yankee bats were silenced by Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets in a 2-1 defeat. Sheets (2-5), who had struggled in his two previous starts since returning from the DL, found a team who could get him out of his funk. The suddenly inept Bomber offense was just what Sheets needed to record his first win since Opening Day.
In limiting them to two hits with five strikeouts over seven strong innings, the Milwaukee right-hander sent the slumping Yankees to their ninth loss in 10.
For the second consecutive night, the Yanks were only able to manage four hits against Brewer pitching.
All Milwaukee needed to make Sheets a winner was shortstop Billy Hall's one out two-run home run to right in the second inning off hard luck loser Carl Pavano (4-5). The long ball was Pavano's 14th allowed this season. To put things in perspective for the free agent pickup from Florida, last season during his career best 18-8 year, he only gave up 16 dingers.
Despite just four hits, the Yanks did have their chances. With the bases loaded in the third and two outs, Hideki Matsui stranded the runners with a weak grounder to second.
With two runners on via walks in the sixth with two outs, Jorge Posada chased a pitch out of the strike zone and popped up to Hall to end the threat.
Last but not least came a similar conclusion to Game One in the ninth. As if to hint of what was to come, Jason Giambi drove a ball off closer Derrick Turnbow to the right field warning track before Geoff Jenkins hauled it in for the first out. After a Jorge Posada single to left, rookie Robinson Cano ripped a ball to right that Jenkins dove for. But as he fell to the ground, the ball came out of his outstretched glove and Cano hustled in with a double to put the tying runs on.
Needing a big hit, they wouldn't get any. Instead, Bernie Williams RBI groundout to second scored Posada to make it 2-1 leaving it up to Derek Jeter for the second straight night. Like deja vu all over again, Jeter didn't waste any time swinging at Turnbow's first pitch. But unlike Monday when he had a good swing and was robbed of a tying hit by Jenkins, this time his impatience resulted in a routine comebacker to Turnbow for an easy final out. It was Turnbow's 10th save of the year.
It's rare that Jeter makes the last out two games in a row in that situation. With how the season has gone, it seemed fitting.
The Yankees should have realized early on that they were in for a tough night. Sheets fanned the side in the first to set the tone.
They are now just 1-7 on this disastrous midwestern trip that threatens to finish them off. Luckily for the Yanks, Baltimore blew a 5-2 lead in the eighth at Pittsburgh losing 6-5, keeping them seven games out of first.
Yankees (28-30) are two games under .500 the latest in a season since September 5, 1995 when they were 60-61. That team rallied to win 19 of their final 23 games to make the playoffs for the first time since '81 as a wild card. That was when this postseason run began. Now it could be coming to an end a decade later.
Notes: Jeter is 3-for-9 since returning from a severe chestcold.
Pavano went six innings giving up two earned runs, five hits, walking two and whiffing three.
Yanks are now 0-22 when scoring three runs-or-less.
Rodriguez, the AL leader in HRs (17) and tied for first with Baltimore's Miguel Tejada in RBIs (49), has gone 11 straight games without either a homer or RBI. During that stretch, he is 8-for-33 (.242) with 2 runs and 10 walks.