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June 14, 2005

One down…
by Sean McNally

Moose answered the bell. Ankle-zilla acted like it was 2004. Jeter, Womack and even Bernie made good defensive plays. Giambi hit the ball hard and the Yanks took their first step toward coming back.

For the second time in his Yankee career, Mike Mussina carried a perfect game past the halfway point in the game before giving up a worm-burning single down the first baseline with two down in the fifth ending a streak of 14 consecutive outs.

Judging by the “accurate” YES gun, Moose sat between 89 and 92 with his fastball, his curve and knuckle curve had bite and even after he lost the perfecto, he looked dominant and never seemed challenged by the Pirate batters.

Matsui got the party started with a homer on the first pitch he saw while DH-ing post-ankle injury. All-in-all, Godzilla went 2-3 and scored twice – including one after blatantly running through a rare Luis Sojo stop sign before being replaced in the sixth by Ruben Sierra who would eventually add a garbage-time two-run single in the eighth.

Giambi also hit the ball hard, stroking a two-run double off the top of the centerfield wall in the sixth to make it 7-0 and essentially end the game.

Jeter made a couple nice picks at short, including a nifty backhand of a one-hop liner off the bat of Humberto Cota, but Womack and Bernie (Yes, Bernie) get the defensive gold stars for their work in the sixth.

With the score still 7-0, and Matt Lawton on first with one down Freddy Sanchez hit a humpback liner into left that Womack snagged with a dive to his right, stranding Lawton at first.

Jason Bay then came up and smashed a ball off the wall in right center, which Bernie retrieved, fired into the cutoff man Cano who gunned Lawton down at the plate to end the inning.

Mussina however was the hero of the game – allowing just five hits and fanning six – Moose worked inside and outside, up and down and just baffled the Pirates in twirling his second complete game shutout of the season and drop his ERA by 0.44 run to get it back below 4.00 at 3.89 for the season.

The good game didn’t fix a horrible road trip, but it gets the homestand off on the right foot. With just one run coming on a homer, the Yanks seemed to move away from the all walk and blast but no bloop offense Larry bemoaned in this space yesterday, if they can add the non-homer base hit to the offense again, things should be looking up in the Bronx.

The Yanks send Thursday Randy Johnson to the hill, hopefully with the un-Mel-ified delivery he showed in St. Louis, against Pittsburgh’s lefty ace, Oliver Perez, which should be a dandy matchup. Editor's note: But first we have to sit through Kevin Brown versus Mark Redman, which should be the opposite of dandy.

If Torre’s smart, he’ll get the newly called up Andy Phillips in the lineup at first, sit Womack and run a LF-Zilla-Bernie-Sheffield outfield out there with Sierra DHing in the eight-hole, but I’m not that confident of any sort of good lineup construction.

Oh, and Michael Kay got the night off, which made it the perfect Yankee game!