15, 2003: Anaheim Angels at New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium
What a Feeling to Be Sele-ing and Zeile-ing
The Yanks had been
sliding. They'd lost more games in their previous 10 (seven) than in the 29 which
preceded those (six). When I swapped emails with my Bronx Banter pal Alex
Belth prior to this game, Alex sounded ready to throw himself under the D
Train if the Yanks couldn't crack Angels starter Aaron Sele. See, the Bombers
positively own Sele; in addition to a career 5-10
record and a 4.76 ERA against them in the regular season, he's
0-5, 5.00 against them in four playoff series.
After losing four
out of five games and two straight series to AL West teams, Sele was the perfect
prescription for the Yankees' ailments, and they beat him like a rented BP pitcher.
The fun started with Alfonso Soriano homering on Sele's second pitch and a three-run
first inning, and it just kept going. The Yanks pounded Sele for 9 hits and 8
runs in 2.2 innings, and continued teeing off on Scott Shields. The score was
10-1 after four loooong innings, by which time the Bombers had gone through the
batting order three times. Things were moving so slowly that when the 9:30 curfew
arrived for the beer concessionaires, it was only the fifth inning. Angels manager
Mike Scioscia began packing it in shortly afterwards, making four substitutions
and a position switch following the sixth. It was that kind of night.
On a chilly evening
which featured lots delays riding the pine, Jeff Weaver pitched about as well
as could be expected, scuffling into the seventh and allowing only two earned
runs. The real star of the show was Todd Zeile, who batted ninth and played first
base while Nick Johnson sat with more of his mysterious
hand jive. Zeile had a picture-perfect hit-and-run ON A PITCHOUT in the second,
a two-run homer in the third, and a somersault over the Yankee dugout railing
to catch a Brad Fullmer pop foul in the sixth (this with a 10-2 lead). Zeile's
homer, the 237th of his career, was somewhat historic. It tied him with Gus
Zernial for first among major-leaguers whose names begin with the letter Z.
Hey, when you're last in the alphabet, you deserve a little celebration now and
The other big star
of the night was Derek Jeter, who had three hits, including two wall-banging doubles
and his first RBI of the season. Jeter looks locked in at the plate, and his average
is still .500 (7-for-14) on the season. Raul Mondesi stood out as well, with two
walks, two hits, two runs, and two nice defensive plays, a great warning-track
grab of Bengie Molina's fly ball in the second and a perfect rebound-and-throw
to hold Adam Kennedy to a long single off the right-centerfield wall in the seventh.
One amusing moment
from the stands: four old codgers directly behind me took note of Jason Giambi's
batting average, which is finally above .200. One of them used the term "Mendoza
Line," prompting much discussion among the four as to what exactly that meant.
Another surmised that the Mendoza Line meant .150, but he had no idea to whom
it referred. A third said it had something to do with World War I, possibly conflating
it with the Maginot
Line. The irony of the situation is that I was wearing my official
Futility Infielder Baseball Jersey, which features the slogan "The website
from South of the Mendoza Line" on the back. I didn't want to seem like a smartass,
so I resisted entering the conversation. But had the weather been warm enough
for me to remove my jacket, perhaps I could have saved them from the ignominy
of not being able to correctly spot the Mendoza Line. Such lofty goals are what
the Futility Infielder aspires to, after all.
Yanks 10, Angels 4. BOX