Rockies 6, Yankees 1
DENVER (AP)—The Bronx Bombers have bombed on this trip to Coors Field.
The New York Yankees lost their second straight to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night, this time 6-1 as left-hander Jeff Francis matched Josh Fogg’s seven-inning, one-run dominance from 24 hours earlier.
The Yankees are getting a firsthand look at how much Denver’s downtown ballpark and the Rockies’ pitching staff have changed from five years ago.
Last time the Yankees came to town in 2002, they scored 41 times in three games.
This time, they’ve pushed across just two runs and have just one hit in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“It’s huge. Two games against the Yankees, we’ve given up two runs. You can’t say enough about the pitching,” said Matt Holliday, whose two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth erased New York’s 1-0 lead.
“Our pitching has kept us in games and our bullpen has been unbelievable. When you’re getting that kind of pitching, you’ll win a lot of games.”
The Rockies sure have. They’re a major league-best 19-7 since May 22 and have won a club record six straight series and are 8-0-1 in their last nine, the best stretch in franchise history.
Francis struck out a career-best nine in seven spectacular innings.
“That is a good one for him to put in the vault,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
“I had more fun tonight than I think I ever had pitching,” said Francis (7-5), who allowed a run and five hits with one walk. “Pitched well, a crowd like that (48,440), against a team like that in a game like that where we’re facing probably a future Hall of Famer.”
Andy Pettitte (4-5) allowed just two singles before giving up Holliday’s two-out, two-run homer in the sixth that traveled an estimated 442 feet.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of hitting the ball on the sweet spot,” said Holliday, who muscled the 79 mph mistake over the left-field bleachers and off the concourse near the beer stands. “He gave me a hard time my first two at-bats and I was just looking for something out over the plate.”
But it was the Rockies who would end the inning screaming at the umpire.
Todd Helton followed Holliday’s shot with a double and appeared to score on Garrett Atkins’ single, but home plate umpire Tim Welke called Helton out on Hideki Matsui’s throw although television replays showed Helton tapped the plate with his hand before Jorge Posada tagged him.
It turned out not to matter as Pettitte, bothered by Holliday’s homer, couldn’t get out of the seventh, when he surrendered an RBI single to Willy Taveras and a two-run triple to Kaz Matsui that made it 5-1 and ended his night. Holliday greeted Luis Vizcaino with a run-scoring single.
“After the home run by Holliday, I quit pitching,” said Pettitte, who allowed six earned runs on nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. “I quit throwing my changeup. I quit pitching. I stopped working both sides of the plate like I do. When you do that you make yourself real vulnerable and they get a lot of hits off you.
“It was the kind of game you wish you could call a timeout, hang on a second.”
Derek Jeter, who has hit in 14 straight games, had broken a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when he sliced a double down the left-field line, scoring Melky Cabrera, who had doubled to end a string in which Francis had retired 11 straight batters.
The Yankees arrived in Denver having won 14 of 17, but they’ve been befuddled by Colorado’s pitching staff and fell 10 games behind Boston in the AL East.
“That’s the mysteries of baseball,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Things that you can’t really explain happen. As quickly as we fell into this thing, we can fall out of it.”
“We haven’t scored. We haven’t hit,” Jeter said. “We aren’t swinging the bats. It’s tough to pitch when you don’t have any runs. We haven’t been able to string some hits together. It’s weird because we were swinging the bats pretty good before we got here.”
Pettitte allowed just two hits, including a historic single by Helton in the second, through the first five innings. Helton’s opposite-field hit made him just the fifth active player to collect 1,000 hits in one ballpark, joining Jeter, who has 1,116 hits at Yankee Stadium, Frank Thomas, Garret Anderson and Sammy Sosa.
“I was pitching well,” Pettitte said. “Then, I threw a changeup to Holliday that cut right over the plate.”
And things fell apart.
CF Johnny Damon will start Thursday. He’s been bothered by a strained abdominal muscle that has the Yankees considering putting him on the DL for the first time in his career. … Jeter has a hit in 22 straight interleague games.