NEW YORK (AP) -- Kevin Brown's frustrating season finally reached
a boiling point, and now his hot temper could cost the New York
Yankees at the most important time.
Brown broke his non-pitching hand when he punched a wall in the
clubhouse Friday night during a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles
that cut New York's lead in the AL East to 2½ games over
Have the Yankees hit the wall? "I did something stupid," said Kevin Brown.
"Stupidity," Brown said, choosing his words carefully."I reacted to frustration I'd swallowed all year. ... There are
no excuses. I let it boil over and I did something stupid. I owe my
teammates an apology for letting my emotions take over like that."Already short on starting pitching, the Yankees were unsure how
long the 39-year-old right-hander might be out. He was to be
examined by a hand specialist Saturday."My plan is to splint it and pitch. I just pray that my
stupidity didn't hurt the team," Brown said.Acquired from Los Angeles last offseason, the oft-injured Brown
missed seven weeks in June and July with a strained lower back and
intestinal parasite. He tweaked his knee while covering first base
on an awkward play in the fifth inning Friday, then was hit on the
right forearm by Miguel Tejada's RBI single in the sixth.Steamed by it all, he walked around the clubhouse in the middle
of the sixth and punched a wall, breaking two bones in his left
hand.That was the end of his night."You just can't do this, there's no doubt about it. You've got
to keep your emotions in check," general manager Brian Cashman
said. "It's a major issue that we shouldn't be dealing with. It's
a problem."Cashman and Yankees manger Joe Torre were visibly annoyed.
Cashman said Brown could be disciplined or fined. Torre said he
spoke to Brown and expressed his disappointment."Certainly uncalled for and unnecessary," Torre said.
"There's more to this game than one person. We rely on him a great
deal. It's not something that's helping the team, obviously."After the game, the Yankees began reviewing Brown's contract to
determine whether a self-inflicted injury could void the guarantee
language, one baseball official said on the condition of anonymity.
No determination had been made, the official said.Brown is earning $15 million this season and is due $15 million
next year, the final season of his $105 million, seven-year deal.He is not the first player to hurt himself in anger. Cardinals
closer Jason Isringhausen broke his right wrist punching a garbage
can while on a minor league rehab assignment with the Mets in 1997.
St. Louis reliever Mike Matthews dislocated a bone in his pitching
hand in 2000 when he punched the dugout bench in frustration."Historically, injuries of this nature, in the heat of a
performance situation, are part and parcel of a player's intensity
and have occurred in the scope and course of employment for many
athletes," said Brown's agent, Scott Boras.Brown (10-4) dropped to 1-3 in his last five starts and 3-8
lifetime against Baltimore. He allowed three runs and five hits in
six innings, struck out seven and walked two."Kevin has great pride and great passion for the game. I'm sure
he regrets it," teammate Alex Rodriguez said. "We've had a lot of
hurdles this year. It's just another one we're going to have to
overcome, and we will."New York's division lead has not been this slim since before
games of June 12. The Yankees led the AL East by a season-high 10½
games on Aug. 15.Rodrigo Lopez shut down the Yankees, Tejada got his major
league-leading 122nd RBI, and the streaky Orioles won their fifth
straight following a 12-game losing streak. They improved to 3-11
against New York this season, winning for only the sixth time in
the last 24 matchups.Derek Jeter homered in the first inning for the Yankees, who
lost for the first time since Tuesday's record-setting 22-0 defeat
against Cleveland.Lopez (11-8) allowed six hits and struck out seven in a
season-high 7 1-3 innings, taking over the team lead in wins. He
entered with a 13.50 ERA in three appearances against the Yankees
this season."Just a tremendous game. To shut down a team like this after
the first inning, that's a pretty good job," Orioles manager Lee
Mazzilli said.Lopez allowed a leadoff double to Miguel Cairo in the eighth,
but he was stranded when Jason Grimsley got Jeter and Gary Sheffield on easy groundouts.Jorge Julio struck out Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada
in succession in the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.Jeter hit his 18th homer of the season in the first, but Lopez
escaped a bases-loaded jam when Posada grounded sharply into an
inning-ending double play.The Yankees didn't get another runner past first base until the
eighth.Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts each hit a sacrifice fly for
Baltimore. Roberts doubled and scored on Tejada's single in the
sixth, making it 3-1.
Yankees reliever Felix Heredia walked his only two batters
in his first appearance since returning from the minors and was
booed off the mound. ... Baltimore C Javy Lopez was removed from
the lineup before the game because of a stiff neck.