Maybe the New York Yankees have finally decided to show as much passion as their feisty owner.
Coming off a come-from-behind win on Monday, the Yankees will try to keep their newfound momentum going when they continue their series with the slumping Baltimore Orioles.
Before Monday’s 6-4 win, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner issued a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the inconsistent play of his high-priced club, which started the night one game above .500 and 6 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
“My patience is a little short by the fact that the team is not performing up to its great capabilities,” Steinbrenner said. “The players have to want to win as much as I do.”
Manager Joe Torre got the message, and responded in the visitors’ dugout at Camden Yards late Monday afternoon.
“It’s been a roller-coaster. The team is frustrated. I’m frustrated,” Torre said. “We’d be concerned if he was happy at this point. The players certainly aren’t happy. We want to win.”
A team that left spring training expecting to dominate has been a sputtering ship that starts, stalls and reverses in repeated cycles. New York began the season 11-19, won 16 of 18, lost 11 of 14, opened a homestand with six straight wins, then lost five of six to Tampa Bay and the Mets before coming from behind to salvage the Subway Series finale 5-4 on Sunday.
The Yankees then erased a three-run deficit on Monday to beat the Orioles. Ruben Sierra drove in two runs, and pinch-hitter Bernie Williams plated the eventual winning run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.
It was the ninth time this season New York won after trailing by three runs. But the Yankees are in third place, and that obviously isn’t good enough for Steinbrenner.
“He’s the owner. He has all the right to say whatever he wants,” closer Mariano Rivera said. “I take it as an inspiration. I take it as a challenge.”
The Orioles, who led the AL East for more than two months, have lost a season-high six straight and are now 2 1/2 games behind Boston.
Larry Bigbie went 3-for-4 with a homer for the Orioles.
“It’s disappointing, just because we want to get out of this funk and get to winning again,” Bigbie said.