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June 24, 2005

Do or Die
by Larry Mahnken

Wednesday afternoon's loss was not the disaster it may have felt like. The Yankees lost to Scott Kazmir, a young stud in the making, and sometimes you just lose to a good young pitcher, even a day after scoring 20 runs. Carl Pavano lost once again at home, but he didn't pitch as badly as he has in his previous struggles, he simply gave up two ill-timed home runs.

Not to excuse the loss, because a loss is never "okay", but it doesn't really mean more than one loss.

Even Monday's loss wasn't "that" bad, because they were starting a rookie, Sean Henn. Being dominated by Casey Fossum isn't something to be particularly proud of, but Fossum was changing speeds and throwing strikes, and any team would have had a tough time hitting him that day. But to not score a single run off of him, which cost them the game, that was tough.

But last night was inexcusable. Last night, they faced Mark Hendrickson, whose entered the game with an ERA of nearly 6.00. They scored four runs off of him in the first three innings, and then nothing. From Robinson Cano's 2-out single in the fourth until A-Rod's 2-out double in the eighth, the Yankees reached base not once, and in the seventh went down on only six pitches. The Devil Rays scored 3 in the ninth to put the game away, but the game was already over by then. The Yankees had their chance to win last night, with an inferior pitcher on the mound, and they failed miserably.

Still, the Yankees have won 7 of their last 10, they are only 5 games out of first and 4½ out of the playoffs. Struggles aside, they are still in the pennant race. With Baltimore dropping 3 of 4 to Toronto, they lost a golden opportunity, a sweep of Tampa Bay would have put them only 2 out of first, but that opportunity is lost. The Yankees now have to salvage the remainder of this homestand and at the very least beat the Mets 2 of 3, and ideally, sweep them. Winning the series is a tough enough task, but this is the situation the Yankees have put themselves in. For ten consecutive years the Yankees have made the playoffs, and only once -- the first time -- did they have to fight for it. But that was in September, this is in June. That time it was a race for glory, this time it's a struggle to prevent humiliation.