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Another ugly loss for Yanks

Another ugly loss for Yanks
Orioles 7

Yankees 5

It might be too early for Joe Girardi to be sitting on the hot seat, but the Yankees manager can't be feeling very comfortable after watching his $200 million team stumble through its first two games.

The Yankees last night suffered their second straight ugly defeat to open the season, falling 7-5 to the Orioles at Camden Yards to put them on the brink of an embarrassing three-game sweep.

"It's not what we expected, but it's only two games," Girardi said. "It's not like we're 30 games in. If we were 20 or 30 games in, that's a start. Two games to me doesn't constitute a start."

Girardi has firsthand knowledge of this type of situation, having played on the 1998 Yankees team that started slow out of the gate before setting an American League record with 114 wins.

"We started out 1-4 and we won a lot of games," Girardi said. "I expect this team to win a lot of games, too."

For that to happen, the starting pitching will have to be much better than it has been in the first two games. The Yankees' rotation was supposed to be their strength in 2009, but CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang have looked more like Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy circa 2008 - only at a much higher price tag.

As bad as Sabathia's Opening Day stinker was, Wang's first start was even worse. Wang was rocked for seven runs on nine hits and three walks in just 3 2/3 innings. Like Sabathia, Wang didn't register a strikeout, as his trademark sinker hung in the zone all night, just begging Orioles hitters to punish it the way Sabathia's fastball was crushed two days earlier.

"It's very frustrating," Jorge Posada said. "We've got guys who should pound the zone and have a very good idea of the strike zone. It seemed like both of them had a great game plan, but we're not pitching the way we're supposed to."

Sabathia and Wang have combined for a 14.62 ERA in the two losses, allowing 13 runs on 17 hits and eight walks in eight innings without striking out a batter.

"They both threw the ball pretty well in the spring, so you don't make a big deal about it," Girardi said. "Our first two starts have not been great, but I expect that there will be a lot better days ahead for those two."

A.J. Burnett takes the mound this afternoon for his Yankees debut, looking to avoid a sweep that would certainly leave the team reeling as it heads to Kansas City to continue a nine-game road trip that opens the season.

"I don't see any panic here," Johnny Damon said. "I don't think anybody expected us to be in this situation, but we need to go out there and keep grinding."

Down 7-2 in the ninth, the Yankees scored three times on Derek Jeter's two-run homer and Mark Teixeira's RBI double (his first hit in nine at-bats this season), bringing Hideki Matsui to the plate representing the tying run. Matsui popped out against closer George Sherrill, though the Yankees tried to look at the late rally as a positive.

"With our lineup, we always have a chance to score runs," Teixeira said. "We just have to do it earlier."

As bad as the hitting was for the first eight innings, it was the pitching that killed the Yankees. Wang put his team in a hole in the first after allowing three consecutive one-out doubles, giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Cody Ransom's RBI double off Koji Uehara in the fourth cut the lead to 2-1, but that was as close as the Yankees would get thanks to Wang.

The Orioles torched Wang for five more runs in the fourth, as four of the first five hitters reached base safely. Adam Jones' sacrifice fly gave Baltimore a 5-1 lead, but it was Nick Markakis' two-run home run that ultimately sent Wang to the showers.

"It's been so long, I just wanted to win so bad," said Wang, who was making his first start since he suffered his season-ending foot injury last June 15. "The sinker wasn't moving. It stayed straight, and I missed a lot over the middle."

Uehara, a 34-year-old rookie who played with Matsui in Japan, allowed one run over five innings in his big-league debut.

"He got through the first couple innings unscathed, then it was 7-1 and he was able to relax and work out his pitches," Damon said. "He threw the ball well. We didn't hit too many balls hard off him."

Baltimore's bullpen retired 10 straight batters from the sixth through the ninth before the Yankees rallied with two outs, but it was too little, too late for the Bombers.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 10, 2009

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