Bubba congratulates Jason Giambi after a score
July 7, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 1, Tampa Bay 0
Talk about a pitchers' duel. Defense counted, and Torre's decision to put Bubba in CF proved to be the right one, even though he didn't hit.
Wright got into a jam in the first inning. The first batter, Lugo, should have fouled out to right, but Bernie in RF was just too slow to get there. Lugo eventually got on base with a single. Crawford then hit a monster double to CF. It went way over Bubba's head, and he played it off the wall (very wisely, I think). But Lugo thought he was going to catch it, and rather than head for home, held on 3B. Bubba faked him out, running after it as if he could catch it.
That would not have happened if Bernie was in CF. They'd have run on him without even looking up. But they had to respect Bubba's speed, and his arm.
And that turned out to be the key play of the game. The D-Rays gave him credit:
ST. PETERSBURG - Bubba Crosby raised his glove over his head as if he were going to run down Carl Crawford's first-inning drive to center field. He wasn't, of course. No one was going to catch that ball as it headed toward the deepest part of Tropicana Field.
But Crosby's heads-up fake was enough to freeze Julio Lugo between first and second base.
"A great deke," Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Enough to prevent Lugo from advancing past third and turning Crawford's RBI triple into a double.
And when the Rays couldn't score Lugo or either of the other two runners who reached third base later in the game, Crosby's play was enough to make the New York Yankees 1-0 winners against the Rays on Friday night in front of 25,584.
Bubba's night at the plate was not as successful, unfortunately.
3rd: One out, none on. Foul - just gets a piece of the first pitch. Hits the second one for a fly out to left. (At least he took it the other way, rather than just pulling it as he has been.)
5th: One out, none on. Bubba tries to bunt the first pitch toward third. Great idea, but the execution wasn't great. Bounced foul. Swung and missed at the next pitch (nice swing, though). Then a ball that would have hit him on the butt if he hadn't moved out of the way. He ended up almost falling over. Swung on the 4th pitch, and popped out to SS. Once again, Bubba flung his bat down in frustration as he ran it out.
8th: Another foul bunt on the first pitch. This one was pretty good, but it hit the lip of the turf, and bounced over the line. Looked at the second pitch, which was a ball, then hit a ground out to 1B.
Al Leiter said he thinks Bubba just needs more at bats to get his timing and rhythm back. He was hoping Bubba would get more playing time with Damon injured. Not likely, alas. There are two lefty starters coming up. Kevin Thompson was called up (Beam sent down), and I suspect he'll get the start in CF Saturday and Sunday.
Not a good night at the plate for Bubba, but as the box score shows, it wasn't a good night at the plate for anyone except Bernie. (Who for some reason hits really well at the Trop. Torre thinks Bernie just sees the ball better indoors.) The Yanks had only three hits all night, and Bernie had two of them.
Jae Seo pitched very well, but I can't help thinking the umpiring had something to do with it. The Yanks were all swinging like Soriano. They didn't work the count. Even super-patient hitters like Melky were hacking at the first pitch. Maybe that was their game plan for the night. Or maybe the strike zone was so inconsistent they were afraid not to swing.
There was an interesting exchange between Al Leiter and Michael Kay during the 5th inning:
Leiter: "Ooh, Jae Seo better not do that too often to Joe West, the home plate umpire."
Kay: "Now, you think he did that because he was unhappy with the call or unhappy with himself."
Leiter: "No, unhappy with the call."
Kay: "Oh. That's the wrong guy to show up."
Leiter: "Although this stadium, even for Joe West who can be crabby once in awhile, this is a QuesTec stadium. So the home plate umpires...they're being graded. So for as much as an umpire like Joe West might want to not call a strike a strike, here they've got to make sure their percentages are high enough."
Kay: "Crabby? How does that manifest itself? Squeeze you?"
Leiter: "Take a look."
There does seem to be a lot of bad blood between "crabby" Joe West and the Yankees. In 1983, Torre was managing the Braves. West fined a player $100 for throwing his bat when strike 3 was called. Torre followed him into the clubhouse, protesting the fine, and West shoved him. West ended up getting fined and suspended for three days. You gotta figure he still remembers that.
Seems like Joe West has been involved in more than one controversial call. Who can forget the one on Cano in Game 5 last year? He was also the guy who ejected Randy Johnson for throwing inside last month. Not plunking someone, just throwing inside.
Anyway, Jeter and some of the other Yankees seemed quite annoyed at West's strike zone last night.
And just for fun...a little video clip
. Each Yankee has their own personal "handshake," and rookies like Melky have to learn them all. The clip is of Melky and Bubba "handshaking."