Laborious day for pitchers at Stadium

Billy Altman was the official scorer for that 22-9 game the Yankees won against the Athletics on the previous homestand. Billy, a free-lance writer who concentrates on baseball and pop culture, is one of my oldest pals, but I must say I was not all that happy to see him, particularly when the score got to 8-7, and we were still in the third inning.

Billy said that due to the rain delay and the length of a game (4 hours, 31 minutes) in which 31 runs were scored – 12 by the Yankees on a record three grand slams – he did not get to his Westchester home until well past eight o’clock that night. Considering we would all have to be dealing with Labor Day traffic Monday, a similar fate may have awaited us.

It is not often that a pitcher with a 9.07 ERA entering a game has it grow, but that is what the Yankees did to Orioles starter Brian Matusz. The lefthander had hoped his career record at Yankee Stadium (2-0, 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 innings) might have been an indication that he was in position to lower that ERA considerably and perhaps improve a 1-7 won-lost record.

Just the opposite happened, however. Matusz wobbled his way through 1 1/3 innings in which he was grilled for five earned runs, five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The result was that Matusz’s ERA rose to 9.84. Well, at least he kept it under 10.

Reliever Chris Jakubauskas fared no better. The righthander took over for Matusz in the second and promptly loaded the bases by walking Mark Teixeira, who had homered (No. 36) in the first inning, and hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch on a 0-2 count. Robinson Cano cleared the bases with his 24th home run, his third grand slam of the season and seventh of his career, six of which have come at the Stadium.

Just as an aside, imagine if Jakubauskas pitched for the Red Sox. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, you would surely have a battery with the longest names in history. The shortest I can remember is pitcher Doug Rau and catcher Ed Ott with the Angels in 1980.

Yankees starter Freddy Garcia also had his ERA swell Monday. He didn’t make it through the third inning, yielding seven earned runs and nine hits, which sent his ERA from 3.09 to 3.50. Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Scott Proctor in the third. The righthander returned to where he started his career in 2004 and made his first appearance for them since July 22, 2007, also against Baltimore. Proctor, whom the Yankees signed to a minor-league contact Aug. 15, gave up one run (on a game-tying home run by Robert Andino) and three hits in two innings.

Another September callup, Jesus Montero, continues to win over fans on this homestand. He was according a curtain call in the fifth inning when he hit his first major-league home run, a solo shot to right field in the fifth that pushed the Yankees back into the lead, 9-8. With each game, the rookie is bettering his audition for a post-season roster spot as the Yankees’ designated hitter against left-handed pitching.

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