Yanks Drop Two of Three To Cards
Well, there seems to be no end in sight to this miserable Yankee season. By losing two of three at Busch Stadium to the Cardinals, the Yankees concluded their 12-game road trip with a paltry 3-9 record, dropping all four series.
And while the defending NL champions were at least a quality opponent, the way they lost twice this weekend should not sit well. During Friday night's listless performance in an 8-1 defeat, the team made fundamental mistake after another, butchering routine plays and basically handing St. Louis the opening game. While the final boxscore indicated just three errors and none to first baseman (if you really can call him that) Jason Giambi, anyone who watched this horrorshow knows how pathetic it was. Though rookie Chien-Ming Wang wasn't sharp, he got no help from his defense. In particular Giambi, who remarkably was not credited with any errors from the St. Louis official scorer. Maybe they felt sorry for the big guy since he has fallen rather dramatically.
After manager Joe Torre blasted his team for their awful display in the first game, they responded by taking Game Two. A clutch two out single by Derek Jeter followed by an RBI double by Hideki Matsui set the tone. The real Randy Johnson also finally showed and shutdown the Cards for seven scoreless innings in a much needed 5-0 victory. With a fastball that topped out at 99 MPH, the Big Unit dominated for the first time all year striking out seven and allowing just four hits. Amazingly, it was the first outing all season he didn't permit a run. When Joe Torre lifted him on just 94 pitches for Tom Gordon in the eighth, the move looked questionable when Flash put runners on second and third with two out. Due to taking a ground ball off his finger, Torre lifted him for closer Mariano Rivera. Rivera quickly froze Larry Walker to end the threat. After an A-rod infield RBI single in the ninth, Mo shutdown the Cards in order impressively fanning three of the four batters faced for save number 14. It's too bad the team hasn't been winning regularly because Rivera has been throwing great.
The rubber match was a well played game that matched Carl Pavano against undefeated seven-game winner Matt Morris. Pavano for the second straight outing pitched well enough to win. But it wasn't meant to be thanks to Tanyon Sturtze's unusual implosion in the seventh. With the team ahead 2-1 due to clutch two out hits by Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui two innings apart, Pavano had limited the Cards to a run on six hits with a walk and two K's in six frames.
On came seventh inning specialist Sturtze to close the door. But for the first time in a while, he didn't get the job done. After allowing a one out single to Yadier Molina, St. Louis sent up journeyman Scott Seabrook to pinch-hit for Morris. As if a running joke, Seabrook crushed Sturtze's first offering into the left field seats for a 3-2 lead. Btw... Seabrook made his major league debut with you guessed it. The Yankees in 2001. Four years later, he was rounding the bases for his first career home run, crushing his former team in the process. Ironically, it was the first homer Sturtze had allowed all year. Afterwards he put two more Cardinals on base around a second out. But instead of letting him get out of it, Torre made the mistake of bringing in Mike Stanton to face Jim Edmonds. Stanton has been washed up forever. Once you've been rejected by the Mets bullpen, there's no hope. Apparently, that message didn't get through to Torre. Edmonds quickly made him pay with an RBI single that plated two when Matsui turned his ankle in right. Why is Matsui playing right anyway? He is a left fielder. Even if you're resting Gary Sheffield, you could have started Ruben Sierra there. At least he's more experienced out there and it would have made sense. But not these Yankees.
So, what began as a 2-1 lead turned into a 5-2 deficit against one of the best teams in baseball. Although Jorge Posada hit his eighth dinger off Julian Tavarez in the eighth, the game was over. Jason Isringhausen retired the Yanks in order to close it out for his 18th save.
Now the Yankees return home to The Stadium Tuesday night for the first of three against the Pirates. Mike Mussina (6-4, 4.33) opposes Dave Williams (5-5, 4.06). How fitting is this match-up? The Pirates actually come in with a better record at 30-31 and a much cheaper payroll. They play hard for manager Lloyd McClendon. So, what will give?
Yankees (30-32) haven't had a two-game winning streak since taking their fifth straight against Boston back on May 27. Since that point, they have freefalled, dropping 11 of 14 to fall into fourth place in the AL East six games behind Baltimore. They're lucky the Orioles have struggled or it could be much worse.
They are now a major league worst 0-24 when they score three runs or less.