NEW YORK (AP)—The ball rolled up the first-base line in foul territory and Hideki Matsui didn’t run. Then it kicked back fair, and by then it was too late.
He was an easy out.
“We’re not very good right now,” Derek Jeter said. “It looks like nobody is having much fun, putting a lot of pressure on themselves.”
New York’s All-Star-laden lineup has scored just 16 runs in five games since its season-opening Tokyo trip, going 2-3 against Tampa Bay and the White Sox. The Yankees are hitting a collective .206 in their 3-4 start, with underwhelming averages compiled by Alex Rodriguez (.160), Bernie Williams (.200), Jeter (.214), Jorge Posada (.217) and Gary Sheffield (.240).
“There’s not much to be cheering about me,” Rodriguez said after his team seemed to sleep through the sunny spring afternoon. “I haven’t really done anything with a Yankee uniform on.”
Manager Joe Torre sensed frustration. New York got four hits for a two-day total of 10, and Chicago pitchers had nine 1-2-3 innings in the two games.
“We hope we got this ugliness out,” Torre said.
While the Yankees are scuffling, Chicago is rolling.
Making his first career start at Yankee Stadium, Buehrle (1-0) allowed only a pair of unearned runs caused by two throwing errors by Valentin in the first.
Protecting a 5-2 lead in the fifth, Buehrle held tough. He fell behind Rodriguez 3-1 with two on and two outs, then came back to strike him out with a cut fastball.
Buehrle left Monday’s opener at Kansas City with a 7-3 lead, but his bullpen failed to hold it.
“Opening day I was pretty nervous,” Buehrle said. “This is a lot bigger than opening day, pitching in Yankee Stadium.”
Ordonez put the White Sox ahead in the first against Jorge DePaula (0-1) with his third homer in four games, a two-run drive on a chest-high pitch.
New York tied the score in the bottom half. Valentin threw away Bernie Williams’ grounder to shortstop and, with one out, took Sheffield’s grounder, stepped on second and threw wildly to first in his attempt for a double play. Williams scored on the grounder and Rodriguez, who had singled, came home on the error,
Joe Crede doubled leading off the second and scored on Willie Harris’ double for a 3-2 lead. Valentin, 3-for-17 (.176) with nine strikeouts, connected for his first homer of the season, another two-run drive.
“After I made the two errors, I said, `Something good has got to happen for me today,”’ Valentin recalled. “It was a relief for me—now I’m even.”
Matsui is still trying to get back to even on the basepaths. On Friday, he was picked off second base, and Torre said the outfielder told him before the game that he had to work on his running. On the roller Saturday, Matsui didn’t run because he thought the ball would stay foul.
“He’s devastated by it,” Torre said, adding: “You’ve got to runs balls out.”
Buehrle had gone over to the line, just in case.
“He kind of tried to dodge me,” the pitcher said. “He could have plowed me, but that’s the way he is.”
DePaula, a rookie making his second major league start, allowed five runs in the first two innings.
Filling in as the fifth starter while Jon Lieber is on the DL, DePaula rebounded to get 12 straight outs before tiring in the seventh.
Torre wasn’t concerned about the pitcher. And he’s not really worried about his batters.
The Yankees say they are just trying too hard as they try to live up to their reputation as the $183 juggernaut assembled by owner George Steinbrenner.
“I was trying to hit five grand slams in the first game,” Rodriguez said. “But here at the Stadium I’ve been feeling very comfortable.”
Jason Giambi, who struggled when he arrived two years ago, knows the feeling.
“They want to get big hits, that’s why everybody came here, to win,” he said. “Sometimes you try too hard in this game. Everybody wants to do well, not only for the team, but for the fans, Mr. Steinbrenner.”
But how to turn it around?
“If I have to throw a helmet and hit a cooler, I’ll do that,” Rodriguezsaid.
Chicago LHP Kelly Wunsch, on the disabled list since March 31 because of an inflamed muscle, was to start a rehabilitation assignment Saturday at Triple-A Charlotte. … Kenny Lofton, originally slated to play CF for New York, was removed from the starting lineup because of a tight right quadriceps and won’t play Sunday, according to Torre. … Chicago had 13 hits. … Billy Koch allowed another unearned run in the ninth, making a throwing error and giving up an RBI single to Posada. … Harris matched a career high with three hits, including an RBI single in a two-run ninth off Tom Gordon. Ordonez followed with a bad-hop double that kicked off 2B Miguel Cairo and rolled intofoul territory behind first.