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May 22, 2005

A gift-wrapped win
by SG

For seven innings today, the Yankees played well enough to lose. With injuries to Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, and Jorge Posada, the Yankees sent out what was likely their worst lineup of the season:

T. Womack lf
R. Cano 2b
A. Rodriguez 3b
H. Matsui rf
B. Williams cf
J. Giambi 1b
J. Flaherty c
R. Sanchez ss
C. Pavano p

A promising first inning ended abruptly when David Wright made a nice catch in the stands on a foul popup by Jason Giambi with the bases loaded and two outs.

Alex Rodriguez's defense continues to be a problem. With two outs in the second, he booted a routine grounder by Pedro Martinez with Doug Mispelling on third allowing the first run of the game to score. Carl Pavano then gave up a rifle single to Jose Reyes and the Mets plated a second run. Cliff Floyd added a homerun in the third to make the Mets lead 3-0. Interesting fact, Pavano has been traded for both Pedro Martinez and Cliff Floyd in his career.

With Pedro Martinez cruising and the Yankee offense inept, it looked pretty likely that the game was over at that point. However, Pavano settled down to pitch quite well, which was a concern for me after his long outing last time out. The Yankees scratched out a run off Martinez in the sixth after a Tony Womack single and steal of second, followed by a Rodriguez RBI single. Womack gets a lot of grief from sabermetrically-inclined fans like myself, but his presence was all over this game, as he scored two of the five Yankee runs and drove in the third in what was a very good day.

After seven innings and 99 pitches, Willie Randolph went to the Mets' hero from yesterday, Dae-Sung Koo. Koo retired Russ Johnson, who had pinch-hit for Carl Pavano to lead off the 8th. Then, Womack hit a grounder to Wright, who dropped the ball. Ruben Sierra came up next, pinch-hitting for Robinson Cano. I wasn't crazy about this, but Cano hasn't done much with lefties so far this season so I understand it. Sierra hit a tailor-made double play ball to Miguel Cairo, who flipped the ball to Jose Reyes. Reyes dropped the ball, and the Yankees were in business. Roberto Hernandez relieved Koo at this point.

The Yankees' wounded Captain made a pinch-running appearance for Sierra. Womack and Jeter proceeded to double-steal on Mike Piazza, and the Yankees had the tying runs in scoring position with 1 out and Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui due up. Rodriguez had another disappointing AB in a clutch situation, fouling out to first base, which put the game in Matsui's hands. Matsui has had a disappointing season, particularly in the power department, but delivered in this AB, lining a 96 mph fastball from Hernandez into LF to plate Jeter and Womack. This brought up the much-maligned Bernie Williams, getting another game in CF with the injury to Sheffield. Bernie lined a 94 mph fastball into the RF corner for a double. Matsui rounded third as the throw from the RF came in to the cutoff man. The relay throw beat him home, but bounced up high enough that Matsui was able to hook around Mike Piazza to score the go-ahead run.

The Yankees started the 8th with Mike Stanton against Cliff Floyd, which scared the hell out of me for two reasons. For one, Floyd has crushed lefties this year, and for the second Stanton's not much more effective against lefties than righties. However, he retired Floyd on a deep fly ball that I thought was a HR when it was hit. Flash Gordon then came in, and gave up a couple of deep fly outs. I noticed him throwing more curves today, which makes me happy.

Willie Randolph continued the Mets display of charity by bringing in Mike Dejean in a high-leverage situation. The Yankees used this to their advantage as they tacked on an insurance run in the ninth behind a single, walk, and an RBI single from Womack as the threat of rain began to loom. Mariano Rivera came in to seal the deal, and the Yankees had a very satisfying comeback win.

Once again, the Yankees were able to win a game that was started by Pedro Martinez, using their normal formula of pitching well and keeping it close enough to rally off the bullpen late. It was also nice to win a game with so many key injured players. Hopefully the off day tomorrow will heal up the wounded, and the Yankees will be at full strength heading back to the Stadium to face the Tigers. And thankfully, 3 of the 6 games in the Subway Series are over.