Homers rain down in Bronx again
Five Yankee blasts, curious ejection highlight loss
NEW YORK -- Charlie Haeger received an unexpected parting gift from home-plate umpire Tom Hallion before being sent down to Triple-A Charlotte following the White Sox 8-1 loss to New York at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Haeger opened the bottom of the eighth inning by allowing Jorge Posada's second home run of the game, marking the Yankees' fifth of the evening and 13th in the first two contests of this three-game series. The next pitch plunked Robinson Cano on the right side, leading to Hallion's demonstrative ejection of the young hurler.
The fact that Haeger used a knuckler to hit Cano, who had homered earlier in the evening, seemed to be lost on Hallion. It was not a night's intangible easily forgotten by Haeger or manager Ozzie Guillen.
"If you're going to hit somebody, I've never seen anybody try to make their point across with a knuckleball, 100 years I've been in this game," Guillen said. "But it's not about the ejection. It's not about getting tossed. It's about common sense."
"I don't even know really what to say about that," Haeger added. "One got away and it hit him. That's just a terrible call. Nothing else you can say about it. Horrible."
Hallion's ejection forced Bobby Jenks into the game, although Guillen did not want to go to his closer. But Jenks was the only White Sox reliever remaining after the Yankees (58-49) slugged their way to a third straight victory and fifth straight win over the White Sox (48-59). Despite not having ample time to get loose, Jenks retired the next three batters in order.
Lost in the late-game histrionics was a somewhat shaky start by White Sox rookie John Danks (6-8). The southpaw allowed five earned runs on six hits over four innings, striking out two and walking two. Five of the six runs given up by Danks in total were courtesy of home runs from Posada, Cano and Shelley Duncan.
Derek Jeter also connected off of reliever Ryan Bukvich, tying a Bombers' franchise record for most home runs hit in consecutive games. Guillen had a very simple explanation for the Yankees' power-packed success against his staff.
"Bad pitches, good hitting," Guillen said. "They have a good hitting team. You make a mistake with them and you will pay.
"A team like that, you have to be perfect every pitch because they swing the bat really well. And we didn't today."
Andy Pettitte (7-7) limited the White Sox to six hits over seven innings, including two each from A.J. Pierzynski and Jerry Owens, dropping the South Siders to 10-22 this season against southpaw starters. Alex Rodriguez did not hit his 500th home run for the second straight night against the White Sox, with the All-Star third baseman now mired in a 0-for-21 slump since launching career home run No. 499, but the remainder of his teammates picked up the slack.
Wednesday's outcome pretty much was decided by the fourth inning, as the White Sox lost their third straight and slipped to 9-12 since the All-Star break. With Kansas City's victory at the Metrodome, the White Sox also dropped back into a last-place tie in the American League Central.
All the excitement left to play out came from the White Sox second straight run-in with this series' umpiring crew. During Tuesday's 16-3 loss, Phil Cuzzi ejected both Guillen, for arguing what he thought was a missed checked swing call against Jeter, and Paul Konerko, for arguing a called third strike.
Guillen did not get ejected on Wednesday. But he was equally perplexed by the move made toward Haeger.
"He has the power. He thought he threw at him," said Guillen of Hallion. "I respect that, but it's ... Well, you can't win.
"I asked him, 'Did I ever do anything bad to you guys? Let me know to apologize.' I'm going to manage for a long time in baseball and I think now I've earned my respect and the reason to go out there and do something.
"But we didn't lose because of that call, either," Guillen added.
Jose Contreras' move to the bullpen and Gavin Floyd's addition to the starting rotation cost Haeger his roster spot temporarily. But Haeger will always remember his first trip to the mound of August 2007, when his 69-mph knuckler apparently was used as a purpose pitch.
"I've never seen anything like that before," Haeger said. "He saw me throw a fastball, so obviously if I'm going to intentionally hit a guy, why would I throw one 69 [mph]?
"I'm trying to send a message with 69? I guess I can't let it hit anybody."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.