A-Rod (really!) comes up big
It's possible that Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson
will never be "true" Yankees, whatever that means exactly, unless they one day
take a ride on a parade float down the Canyon of Heroes after winning a world
They certainly aren't always fan favorites; A-Rod and The Big Unit often
find themselves one bad moment away from hearing the wrath of Yankees fans.
That's why it was unusual to hear an outpouring of affection for the grumpy
Johnson and a display of support for the fragile Rodriguez last night at
And both highly paid, highly significant Yankees returned the favor, doing
just enough to lead the team to a 7-2 win over the Angels.
"It was a good win," owner George Steinbrenner said after the Yankees
regained a two-game lead in the American League East over the Red Sox, who lost
to the Tigers, 7-4.
Johnson (13-9) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs, and Rodriguez
drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly that was nearly a
Go ahead, it's OK to say it: A-Rod got a big RBI in a clutch situation.
The perception that he shrinks as the pressure mounts followed him to the
plate last night, as did wild cheers from 52,100 after the Angels walked Jason
Giambi intentionally to load the bases with one out in a tie game.
"That was a great game out there," said Rodriguez, who drove a 1-and-2
pitch from John Lackey (10-9) to the 314-foot sign in rightfield; it was caught
handful. It was almost a playoff-game atmosphere. It was good to win."
The Yankees, who hit three solo home runs and not much else in Sunday's 5-3
loss, had 16 hits last night and used little ball in the late innings to split
the four-game series.
With the score tied at 2, Damon led off the seventh with a bloop single to
left and reached second on a bunt single by Derek Jeter, who had hit a two-run
homer to center in the third inning and went 3-for-5.
Bobby Abreu sacrificed the runners to second and third - his first
sacrifice bunt since July 19, 1998 - and Angels manager Mike Scioscia ordered
"I had plenty of time," Rodriguez said. "Once I knew the bunt sign went on,
I had a great opportunity to visualize the situation coming to me. I was ready
As for Johnson, the cheering started soon after he struck out Tim Salmon in
the fourth inning for his second of the game and 4,500th of his career. The
centerfield scoreboard informed fans that Johnson had become only the third
and the ovation grew.
Johnson didn't budge from the mound, however, and didn't wave his cap or
acknowledge the appreciation in any way until after he retired Robb Quinlan on
a pop-up to end the inning. Only then did he wave his gloved hand at the crowd
and point with it to his family seated behind home plate.
"Being locked in just trying to finish the inning," Johnson said. "Things
like this have happened before and I've told myself to not get too caught up in
the moment and stay concentrated on what I'm doing."
As he had in his last start in Chicago, Johnson pitched shutout ball for
six innings. The Angels tied it in the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Chone
Figgins and a run-scoring double by Howie Kendrick.
Jorge Posada (3-for-4), who entered the game 0-for-25, led off the eighth
with his 15th home run for a 4-2 lead. The Yankees scored three more runs in
the inning, capped by a generously scored RBI single by Rodriguez on a bad-hop
grounder booted by shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
"Hopefully," Rodriguez said, "the signs are turning."
Staff writer Tripp Mickle contributed to this story.
Randy Johnson fanned five last night to increase his career strikeout total
to 4,503. Here is a look at the hitters whom he has struck out the most in his
Hitter Ks ABs
Rickey Henderson30 59
Dean Palmer 25 42
Sammy Sosa 25 58
Jim Leyritz 24 45
Tim Salmon 23 57
Career strikeout leaders
Nolan Ryan 5,714
Roger Clemens 4,552
Randy Johnson 4,503
Steve Carlton 4,136
Bert Blyleven 3,701
Tom Seaver 3,640
SOURCE: STATS, INC.
Days To Fenway
Last night's results
Yankees 7, Angels 2
Tigers 7, Red Sox 4
Detroit ends 5-game skid, A61
Orioles at Yankees, 7:05, Ch. 9, WCBS (880)
Tigers at Red Sox, 7:05
AL East standings
W L Pct. GB
Yankees 69 46 .600 -
Red Sox 68 49 .581 2
White Sox 71 46 .607 -
Red Sox 68 49 .581 3
Twins 68 49 .581 3