NEW YORK (AP) -- After a daylong wait for an afternoon
doubleheader that got turned into a single night game, the New York
Yankees found their 1-2 punch.
On another unusual day in the Bronx filled with talk of a
forfeit, Hurricane Frances caused the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to
arrive three hours after the scheduled start.
Alex Rodriguez then got shifted into the No. 2 spot in the
batting order and stroked a three-run double for his first hit with
the bases loaded in more than a year. Derek Jeter, batting leadoff
for the second day in a row, scored a pair of runs and Orlando
Hernandez won his seventh straight decision to lead the Yankees
over the Devil Rays 7-4 Monday night, Tampa Bay's season-high
eighth straight loss.
"It's kind of fun hitting behind Jete and in front of Sheff,"
Rodriguez said, referring to Gary Sheffield. "It's a good spot to
be in. Hopefully, we'll generate a lot of runs."
Fouled up by the hurricane, which caused consecutive
postponements against Detroit on Saturday and Sunday at Tropicana
Field, the Devil Rays' charter didn't even take off from Florida
until five minutes before the doubleheader was scheduled to start
at 3 p.m.
Major league baseball then switched it to a single night game at
7 p.m., just one hour after the Devil Rays arrived at the ballpark.
The Yankees, with "1G" still up on the scoreboard to record
the first-game score, asked the commissioner's office to award them
a forfeit, a request commissioner Bud Selig made clear he would
reject. Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said the
other game will be rescheduled soon, possibly during the remainder
of the series, which runs through Thursday. The Yankees threatened
to refuse to make up the game this week.
Fans started entering the ballpark at 11 a.m. and were given
free hot dogs and soda during the eight-hour wait. They applauded
loudly during batting practice and were unusually lively during the
early innings. While 44,422 tickets were sold, the crowd appeared
to peak at about 30,000.
"They were troopers tonight. They had a full day," Rodriguez
said. "They should get credit for two wins today."
The Devil Rays, on their longest skid since July 2002, were
without outfielder Aubrey Huff, who could not get from his home,
which is in a low-lying area, to Tropicana Field.
"We sent the police over," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella
said, "and we still couldn't get him out."
It's been a high-pressure period for the Yankees, coming off a
team-record 22-0 defeat to Cleveland last week and the loss of
pitcher Kevin Brown, who broke his non-pitching hand punching a
wall in frustration Friday. New York's AL East lead over
second-place Boston, 10½ games in mid-August, is down to 2½ games
over the Red Sox, who won 8-3 at Oakland.
Rodriguez, the reigning AL MVP, had been 0-for-10 with the bases
loaded this season and hitless in 11 at-bats with the bases full
since his 11th-inning grand slam at Texas off Boston's Todd Jones
on July 31, 2003. He hadn't hit second since Oct. 2, 1999, and
remembered the days he hit in front of Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle.
"He looked more aggressive," said Yankees manager Joe Torre,
who had considered the move for three weeks. "We'll continue to do
it as long as it seems comfortable. Derek, he gives you a lot of
energy up top."
Jorge Cantu's first major league homer had put the Devil Rays
ahead 1-0 in the second against Hernandez (7-0), who has become the
After Sheffield's third-inning RBI grounder and Miguel Cairo's
fourth-inning sacrifice fly put New York ahead 2-1 against Doug
Waechter (3-7), Rodriguez came up later in the fourth and grounded
a double under the glove of a diving B.J. Upton. The 20-year-old
was making his first professional start at third base.
Waechter had traveled to New York on Sunday from Charlotte, N.C.
"I didn't see the team until 6:15," he said. "They had a long
day for sure. It was tough on them."
Hernandez allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings before
he was ejected by plate umpire Adam Dowdy for arguing balls and
strikes. Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre also was ejected.
Torre thought Dowdy overreacted to criticism made by the pair
from the top step of the dugout.
"Duque's excitable, but Mel's pretty calm," Torre said.
Tampa Bay OF Carl Crawford missed the game because of a
bruised right shoulder. ... Hernandez improved to 9-2 against the
Devil Rays, Waechter dropped to 0-3 against New York. ... Jose Cruz
Jr. had an RBI single for Tampa Bay in the sixth. Pinch-hitter
Ruben Sierra had a run-scoring single off Lance Carter in the
eighth, and Jeter followed with a sacrifice fly. ... Paul Quantrill
gave up a two-run homer to Geoff Blum and finished for his first
save since July 10, 2003, for Los Angeles at St. Louis.