July 3, 2006
A-Rod powers Yankees past Mets
Fans cheer New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez as he comes back to the dugout after hitting a grand slam home run in the third inning against the New York Mets during interleague play Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees rolled to a 16-7 victory.
NEW YORK — The New York Yankees appeared to be headed for a long night, until two big swings by Alex Rodriguez made it an easy one.
Rodriguez hit a grand slam and a three-run homer, sending the Yankees to a 16-7 blowout of the Mets in their Subway Series finale Sunday.
“We needed to win this game. We don’t have a 10-game lead like they do,” Rodriguez said. “Every game for us is monumental.”
Jorge Posada and Nick Green also connected for the Yankees, who rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to remain four games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
The Mets, who have lost five of six, had a franchise-record six players chosen for the All-Star team earlier in the day — but they sure didn’t play like the sound squad that’s built an 11-game cushion in the NL East through half the season.
“One minute, everything was going good. And the next minute, their offense exploded,” Mets All-Star David Wright said.
The Yankees broke out for the most runs scored by either team in a Subway Series game since interleague play began in 1997, emphatically capping a season of dominance by the AL. The junior circuit went 154-98 against the NL for a .611 winning percentage — obliterating the previous high of .547 by the NL in ‘97, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Mets and Yankees split six games, with the Bronx Bombers taking two of three at home this weekend.
Long after this one was decided, Carlos Beltran homered twice for the Mets. He finished with four hits.
Selected to his 10th All-Star team earlier in the day, Rodriguez put the Yankees ahead with a grand slam off rookie starter Alay Soler (2-3) in the third inning, then added a three-run shot off Heath Bell in the fifth to make it 16-5.
“Alex was all of it, just about,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “In front of the crowd tonight, against the Mets, all those things that seem to heighten the tension here — he did the job. Hopefully, we can just move on.”
Booed lustily at Yankee Stadium as he slumped through much of June, the two-time MVP has turned it around with four homers in four games. He popped out of the dugout for two curtain calls Sunday night to boisterous cheers from the Yankee-partisan crowd of 55,212.
“That was nice. It’s been an awful first half. I haven’t felt a rhythm all year,” Rodriguez said.
Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was angry with the way Rodriguez watched his grand slam and tossed his bat away, yelling at the third baseman as he crossed home plate.
After some enthusiastic high-fives, Rodriguez turned back toward Lo Duca, but they were separated by plate umpire Tim McClelland as Jason Giambi jawed with Lo Duca.
“It upset me a little bit that he threw his bat. I want to protect my pitcher, and I didn’t like the way he showed him up,” Lo Duca said. “You want to stare at it, that’s fine. But don’t toss your bat and stare at your dugout like that. Act like you’ve hit one before.”
There was no further trouble the rest of the night. Rodriguez declined to comment.
“It’s over with, and that’s that,” Lo Duca said.
After the Mets chased an ineffective Jaret Wright with four runs in the second, Ron Villone (3-1) restored order with three solid innings and gave the Yankees a chance to come back. The left-hander has earned the team’s last three wins in a span of four games.
Called up from the minors Tuesday as infield insurance when All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano went on the disabled list, the seldom-used Green provided a surprising spark with his bat and glove.
Making his first start for the Yankees, he threw out a runner at the plate with a strong relay and robbed Carlos Delgado of a hit with a tumbling play at second base. Green also reached base safely three times and scored twice from the No. 9 hole.
Green’s two-run shot in the Yankees’ season-best, eight-run third made it 9-4 and snapped his 0-for-25 skid dating to earlier this season with Tampa Bay. It was his first homer since July 8 last year for the Devil Rays.
“It’s fun whenever you play for a team of this caliber,” Green said. “When I was over with the Braves it was the same thing. You go out there expecting to win. Sometimes it brings out the best in people.”
Staked to a 4-0 cushion, Soler fell apart. The right-hander gave up a leadoff homer to Posada in the second, then walked his first two batters in the third.
Derek Jeter hit an RBI single, and Soler was late covering first base on an infield single by the slow-footed Giambi. That loaded the bases for Rodriguez, who drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-center bleachers for his 13th career slam — second this season — and a 6-4 lead.
Soler committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and Melky Cabrera hit an RBI double before Green homered off Bell.
“That blew up real quick,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “What’s there to talk about? You can’t walk guys in front of a lineup like that.”
An error by Mets right fielder Xavier Nady led to four runs in the fourth. Cabrera’s two-run double made it 13-4.
Notes: The start was delayed 70 minutes by rain. ... Mets ace Pedro Martinez will miss his scheduled turn Monday night against Pittsburgh because of a sore hip. ... Rodriguez has 42 multihomer games. With the bases loaded this season, he is 5-for-9 with 16 RBIs.
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Team USA has title bid stopped by Netherlands
One upset was all the United States Team Handball Women’s National Team could pull off this weekend.
After feeling the elation of knocking off Team Canada in thrilling 26-25 fashion in the USA Cup semifinals Saturday night at SUNY Cortland Alumni Arena, the tournament hosts would come up short in the title test the following afternoon.
The Netherlands — or more precisely, the GoConnectIT/Fortissmo club team that has been a past champion in the Dutch first division — spoiled the USA’s weekend by capturing the title game with a convincing 34-21 victory on Sunday.
After losing all four games over three days of round-robin play, beating Canada in the semifinals was a huge USA confidence builder as team captain Tomuke Ebuwei netted eight goals. Kathy Darling and Megan Ballard added four goals apiece.
“This was one we have to remember,” said USA head coach Christian Latulippe after the semifinal shocker. Canada is a squad the USA will be competing against in upcoming bids to qualify for the 2007 World Championships as well as the 2008 Olympic Games.
The loss to The Netherlands showed how far the USA has to go to become a force on the world stage in a sport still trying to capture a fan base in this country.
“Their timing is a lot better than ours,” said Latulippe of the USA Cup champions. “We will have to play a lot of games to get to that level of execution.”
“It’s tough. I was one of the people who picked them up at the airport, and driving back they were saying how they start playing at eight, nine or 10 years old,” said Ebuwei of the players from the Netherlands. “We have some players who didn’t start playing until their mid-20s.
“It’s tough when you’re giving up some 10 years of experience. Conversely, it says a lot about the kind of athletes we have. We’re putting up a good showing despite being years behind,” added the 30-year-old Ebuwei, who was a captain in college on Penn State volleyball teams that won NCAA Division I titles.
“They are doing the right things,” said Elly Vernooy, the coach of The Netherlands club, of the USA. “They are a good team with good players. They will only take their play higher and higher and higher.”
IN THE TITLE game, The Netherlands never trailed. The top seeds, whose players spent Friday’s day off visiting Niagara Falls, turned a 1-1 deadlock into an 11-3 lead over the opening 13 minutes.
A glimmer of hope arrived when Darling, a former all-conference basketball player and track and field standout at Johns Hopkins, netted three straight goals to pull the USA within 15-9 with 3:45 left to play in the opening 30-minute half.
But the Netherlands scored the five unanswered goals to close out the stanza. The lead was 19-9 when Marinda van Cappelle made a heads-up play on a breakaway, tipping the ball past charging USA goalie and into the net. Sanne Mocking then netted her sixth goal of the half for a 20-9 halftime cushion.
Though Mocking and Desiree de Bree spent some time on the bench with injuries, the USA could not cut into the deficit. Back-to-back goals by Ebuwei did get the hosts within 22-13 with 19:50 left to play, but van Cappelle struck twice and the lead was never under double digits the rest of the way.
“We were able to battle them for 10 minute periods, but not 60 minutes,” said Latulippe, feeling his team just could not keep up with the pace set by The Netherlands.
“That’s what we learned what was different when we went to Europe, the speed of the game over there,” he added, referring to the team’s recent trip that helped prepare for this USA Cup challenge. “It’s at a different level.”
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