Monday, July 28, 2008


DAVID ORTIZ and Manny Ramirez, so often the two thorns in the side of the New York Yankees, put a smile back on the faces of Boston Red Sox fans at Fenway Park last night. 

But despite their obvious relief at avoiding a three-game sweep, Sox supporters will be looking over their shoulder anxiously…because “the Evil Empire” is back!

Their 2-1 series victory means the Yanks are now just two games behind Boston and three adrift of American League East leaders the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sure, it was disappointing that they suffered their first defeat in nine games since the All Star break.

But to say the match-up of Jon Lester v Sidney Ponson favored Boston would be something of an understatement.

General manager Brian Cashman has already addressed two of the team’s major deficiencies by trading for a corner outfielder, Xavier Nady, and a left-hand reliever, Dámaso Marté, from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now he needs to sign another starter before Thursday’s deadline.

The Yanks have been riding their luck with Ponson and Darrell Rasner at the back end of their rotation…and their luck ran out last night.

Now Cashman needs to sign starting pitcher

Ponson, who had made the most of the 41 runs the Yanks offense scored during his first four starts, was found out by the better hitters.

Don’t be fooled by his 6-2 record. His ERA for the Yankees is 6.08 and while he has done okay as a stopgap measure, he was never going to be a long-term solution.

That’s why Cashman is talking to the Seattle Mariners about left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who is 5-9 for a team that’s 39-65.

Washburn has an ERA of 4.5 and while he wouldn’t be my first choice, he knows how to pitch in the American League and would certainly be an upgrade on Ponson and Rasner.

While we wait and see what develops, the Yanks will attempt to bounce back against the Baltimore Orioles at the Stadium tonight (7.05pm) when Mike Mussina goes for his 14th win of the year.

One streak has ended but another is still going. The Yanks have won their last 10 home games and a four-game series against the last-placed Orioles would appear to give them every opportunity to keep the run going.

Just one note of caution…they have already lost two of the three series they’ve played against Baltimore, proving once again that you can never take anything for granted in baseball.

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