Orioles 3, Yankees 1
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 just 2 1/2 games over Boston.
“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 10 1/2 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.
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.
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.