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September 8, 2005

by SG

After dropping their 10th of 14 games to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, I was about ready to write off the Yankees this season. The division title is starting to look a bit out of reach, and the difference has been Boston and New York's respective records vs. the Devil Rays. Boston is 12-4 against Tampa, the Yankees are 5-10. That's 6.5 games in the standings, and to me it's unacceptable.

Then came a disastrous first inning yesterday, where Jaret Wright got banged around and gave up 4 runs, and even contributed to Gary Sheffield getting injured chasing down a first inning fly ball. Sheffield is listed as day to day with a tight hamstring, but the Yankees can ill afford him to miss even a single AB, so hopefully he'll be back soon.

Wright finally settled down, and pitched well over his remaining 5.2 innings.

Hideki Matsui hit his 400th professional HR with one out in the fourth to finally get an inept Yankee offense on the board. Bernie Williams, who was subbed into the game for Sheffield doubled, but Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi both failed to bring him in.

In the sixth, Robinson Cano led off with a single and Derek Jeter followed with a double. Hideki Matsui then doubled to left and the Yankees had the tying run in scoring position with no outs. After a Bernie Williams groundout, the Rays walked Rodriguez to face Giambi, who hit the ball hard but right at Travis Lee for an unassisted double play.

In the seventh, after Ruben Sierra fouled out (should Sierra really be playing every day?), Matt Lawton was hit by a pitch and Jorge Posada singled. Robinson Cano WALKED, and that brought up Captain Clutch, Derek Jeter. Jeter had grounded into a game ending double play on Tuesday night, and has generally been pretty poor in these spots all year.

This season:
with runners in scoring position, Jeter is hitting .254/.379/.369
With a runner on second, Jeter is hitting .200/.304/.250
With runners on first and third, he's hitting .211/.273/.368
In innings 7+, he's hitting .234/.333/338

Jeter hit into another double play, and this one looked like a killer.

In the eighth, Matsui and Bernie went down meekly. Alex Rodriguez fell behind 1-2 before singling sharply up the middle. That brought up Jason Giambi, who'd had a miserable game to this point, 0 for 3 with 3 runners left on base. Giambi took a strike, then ripped a low line drive down the right field line that just stayed inside the foul pole, to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead.

Mariano Rivera closed it out, and the Yankees finally got off the snide.

It was a nice comeback win, but given the Yankees' horrendous performance against Tampa this year I didn't get much joy from it. The fact that it took a comeback like that to beat Tampa is very frustrating.

Chien-Ming Wang makes his return today. I'm cautiously optimistic, but I hope the Yankees are not rushing him back. It's looking like Mike Mussina could very well miss the rest of the season, so Wang's return could be huge.