When the Yankees acquired Graeme Lloyd a week ago, they were hoping he’d help out in the bullpen as a lefty specialist down the stretch run of the season. Instead, Lloyd’s been hit pretty good – his recent outing coming in tonight’s disastrous 7-4 loss.
With a 4-2 lead and runners on first and second thanks to Jeff Nelson, who had already allowed to runs to score in the sixth inning, Joe Torre turned to Lloyd to get two outs to protect the lead. Lou Piniella sent up pinch-hitter Jeff Manto, who promptly smacked a 2-0 pitch to left-center field for a three-run bomb. The Mariners were all of a sudden up 5-4, and the Yankees were left stunned.
The Yankees would go quietly from there, losing the ballgame and seeing their division lead shrink to just four games thanks to a Baltimore win. A little under a month ago, New York held a 12-game advantage. “We’re in a pennant race now folks,” Torre said. “You’ve got to find out what you’re made of sooner or later. It’s our turn now” (Via NY Times).
Tonight marked Lloyd’s second loss in as many days. He now has an eye-popping 32.40 ERA in four games in pinstripes.
Kenny Rogers gave the Yankees a decent start, going 5.1 innings and allowing three runs on four hits – the last run charged to him when Edgar Martinez scored on Manto’s home run. The New York offense was paced by Tino Martinez yet again, who walloped a three-run home run in the top of the sixth off Jamie Moyer to grab a 4-0 lead. He now has 100 RBIs on the season.
“Nobody is panicking here,” Martinez said. “Everybody has the confidence we can go out and win.” (Via NY Times). They’ll have to go out and win without John Wetteland for an extra couple of days, because of a setback with his injured groin. He’s eligible to be activated tomorrow, and then will sit with the hopes his groin will get back to 100 percent.
Tonight was a prime example of how the Yankees have played without the league-leader in saves. Torre went to Nelson and then to Lloyd, and it backfired. New York has now lost 24 of their last 42 games, and they appear to be sinking in the division. They’ll try to avoid the sweep tomorrow as Dwight Gooden starts against Terry Mulholland.
Jimmy Key is optimistic he can make his next start after being hit by a line drive last night.
There are rumors that David Cone will come back a few days early to start against the Angels at the end of the week. Cone has been out since May after undergoing surgery to remove an aneurysm from his throwing shoulder.