Yankees fall to 3rd, Red Sox Boston stays hot with 6-4 victory

September 17, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- On their next to last day off of the season, the Orioles got a bonus. They moved into second place when their most recent tormentors, the Boston Red Sox, beat the New York Yankees, 6-4, last night.

Fresh from a two-of-three series win against the Orioles in Boston, the Red Sox overcame a few odds of probability to drop the Yankees three games behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays. The loss also left New York (81-67) a percentage point behind the Orioles (80-66).

The loss was particularly frustrating for the Yankees, coming on the heels of a 15-5 pasting in Milwaukee the day before. After spending 18 days tied for first place without ever solely occupying the top spot, the Yankees find themselves in a downward spiral.

With only 15 games remaining, manager Buck Showalter realizes lost opportunities now are impossible to make up. "I don't think anybody senses anything slipping away," he said. "We've just got to put it together down the stretch."

For the seventh time in the past 10 games, Showalter had a starting pitcher, Scott Kamieniecki, who failed to last five innings.

The Yankees are said to be trying desperately to get veteran left-hander Frank Tanana from the Mets, but for now they have to make do.

For most of last night the Yankee Stadium security force got more of a workout than the home team hitters. Left-hander Frank Viola (11-8) breezed through the necessary five innings to earn the win before leaving because of tightness in his elbow.

It wasn't until he left that the game became the major attraction. The Yankees came within a couple of feet of tying the game in the eighth after victimizing the Red Sox bullpen for three runs.

Mike Stanley, who is tied for the major-league lead with three grand slams, came that close to a fourth. But his drive to right field was caught by Rob Deer, who knocked open an outfield gate in the process.

Greg Harris, who stopped the Orioles in both of Boston's wins earlier in the week, eventually restored order. The right-handed curveball expert notched his eighth save, and third in the past four days.

Pinch hitter Matt Nokes singled to drive in the Yankees' fourth run in the eighth. But Harris got Mike Gallego to hit into a force play to end the inning.

Then, in the ninth inning, Harris ended the excruciating game (3 hours, 54 minutes) by striking out Stanley with the bases loaded.

"At this point in the season, it's tough to just walk away from any loss," said first baseman Don Mattingly, whose ninth-inning double gave the Yankees their final opportunity. "But you have to."

Although the Yankees were mesmerized by Viola, the Red Sox were hardly intimidated by Kamieniecki's unbeaten record at home. The Yankees right-hander was raked for 11 hits and five runs before being removed with two outs in the fifth.

During the early innings, those of the 38,704 ticket holders on hand (there were thousands of no-shows) got most of their entertainment from disruptive spectators. The raging question was whether the fights down the third-base line would out

number those on the first-base side (they did by an unofficial 4-3 count).

The setting appeared to be perfect for the Yankees to put the memory of a 3-6 road trip behind them. Their 46-26 home record was the best in the AL (the Orioles now lead with a 45-26 mark), and Kamieniecki was unbeaten (8-0) on his home turf.

But if there is such a thing as a law of averages in baseball, it surfaced as Kamieniecki struggled with his control from the outset.

It was the third unimpressive performance by Kamieniecki since he suffered a hamstring injury Aug. 22. "I don't think Kammy is himself right now," said Showalter.

The Red Sox took full advantage, putting together four hits for three runs in the first. They had runners on base in every inning except one and didn't blow the game open only because they

stranded 13.

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