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August 15, 2005

Feels So Wright To Be Wrong
by Sean McNally

I had low expectations tonight. Jaret Wright, coming off the DL to a team that can hit pretty good. Wright of the .400 batting average allowed, in Tampa, against a team that hits pretty good.

Well, color me stunned.

Wright was effective if not dominant for six and a third innings, scattering four hits, a walk and three hit batsmen all on just 79 pitches, two-thirds of which were strikes.

TanGorMo came on for the final eight outs, Sturtze and Gordon did so with remarkable effectiveness - on five and eight pitches respectively. Mo came on and was not lights out, but did the job and the Yankees won the game 5-2.

ARod hit a bomb, becoming the eighth man to hit the catwalk in Tampa's Terrible Dome of Doom. Sheff, not to be outdone homered in the leftfield seats and so it goes for the Yankee offense lately.

Jeter got a day off in the field, as Felix Escalona took the start at short and the Captain DH'ed. Torre has said he wanted to get Jeter and ARod a blow, which is part of the reason Escalona is up and Andy Phillips continues to crush his way through the International League.

With the sort of business-like way the Yankees won that game gave me a little hope going forward. This is how they are supposed to play, they're supposed to pound bad teams, get up on them and hold them down by the throat. The score wasn't a blowout, but it's the way the Yankees won that gives a fan confidence.

Something else of note was Jason Giambi's performance at the plate. Yes, he went 0-4, grounding into a double play, striking out, popping up to first and grounding out to second, but observe the following.

Giambi's second and third at-bats went as such:

Top of the 4th: Ball, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike out on foul tip. (11 pitches)

Top of the 6th: Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Popped up to first. (12 pitches)

That’s 23 pitches in two at-bats against Casey Fossum. He saw three others in his first appearance, that’s a total of 26 pitches. Fossum threw 125 pitches, meaning Giambi, by himself saw 20 percent of all the pitches Mr. Awesome threw.

The Devil Rays' announcers made note that this is the difference between an experienced hitter and young hitters. This is what makes the Yankees a dangerous team, they work counts, they burn out starters and get to the middle relief of their opponent, and there’s a reason why those guys are in middle relief.

Throughout the course of the game, Yankee hitters had 18 at bats where they saw at least five pitches. That’s 18 of 38 plate appearances, 47 percent of the time a Yankee hitter stepped into the box, they were going deep into the count.

If they can keep this up, the Yanks just might have a shot at this thing.