Slumping Yankees rock rival Red Sox, 22-1

Tuesday, June 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) — So much for all those worries about the New York Yankees.

Coming off an embarrassing weekend that put them on edge, the wobbling Yankees bounced back with a vengeance Monday night, routing Boston 22-1 in their highest-scoring game in 47 years.

``I'm just shaking my head,'' manager Joe Torre said.

A day earlier, a lot of Yankees were doing the same thing — for a different reason.

In a humiliating loss that also cost them pitcher Orlando Hernandez, the Yankees were smacked 17-4 by the Chicago White Sox. The two-time World Series champions were swept at home in a four-game series and outscored 42-17.

``Right now, we're playing as badly as we can play,'' general manager Brian Cashman said after that game. ``You're never as bad as you look, and right now we're bad. We're stinking out the joint right now.''

New York wobbled into Fenway Park for a four-game set, the start of a season-long 13-game road trip. There was word that owner George Steinbrenner — and his supposed trade interest in Sammy Sosa — might be in town Tuesday.

Steinbrenner met with high-level Yankees executives Monday — including special advisers Clyde King and Al Rosen, who were scouting the team's Class-A Tampa affiliate — at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
``I haven't talked to him, but obviously it's a blow to the organization, to the owner, to the general manager, to myself, the way things are going,'' Torre said earlier.

Suffice to say, Torre's skill at keeping the clubhouse calm and free of the Boss' bluster was bound to be severely tested in the next few days.

Of course, that might have changed a bit with the romp over the Red Sox.

``You just can't figure this game,'' Torre said. ``You never want to beat somebody up like that, but you can't control it.''

It was New York's highest-scoring game since Aug. 12, 1953, when it beat Washington by the same 22-1 margin. Only the Yankees' 25-2 win over Philadelphia on May 24, 1936, was by a bigger score in team history.

It was the highest-scoring game against the Red Sox since Chicago beat them 22-13 on May 31, 1970. Boston's worst loss was 27-3 at Cleveland on July 7, 1923.

Before the game, there were no signs of panic in the Yankees' cramped clubhouse at Fenway.

Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and several other players hooted as they watched a tape of extreme fighting bouts on a big-screen TV. A few others calmly worked on a crossword puzzle. Coach Willie Randolph pedaled away on an exercise bike.

``We've had about five do-or-die series in a row,'' third baseman Scott Brosius said. ``We just need to get on track and play the way we can.''

Brosius' three-run homer capped a seven-run ninth inning. That was one of five Yankees home runs.

At 35-29, the Yankees moved a half-game ahead of Boston for the AL East lead.

Even so, there have been concerns in the Bronx. As in:

— Pitching. ROGER CLEMENS is on the disabled list, DAVID CONE has won only once in 13 starts and Hernandez sprained his right elbow in Sunday's loss. Rivera is no longer unhittable, either.

— Hitting. The Yankees were next-to-last in the AL in runs scored before facing Boston, with middle-of-the-order boppers Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez having quiet seasons, and little production from the DH spot.

— Fielding. Chuck Knoblauch's throwing problems, of course. His latest wild toss hit the mother of FoxSports anchor Keith Olbermann. The Yankees already are trying to get Minnesota backup second baseman Todd Walker.

Hernandez will visit prominent orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. Hernandez has asked for a second opinion.

``Right now, we're not thinking disabled list,'' Torre said.

No wonder that other, bigger trade talk is bound to heat up well before the July 31 dealing deadline.

That could mean intensified efforts to acquire a slugger, such as Sosa or Juan Gonzalez. Or perhaps a top starter, such as BRAD RADKE or MIKE MUSSINA.

There also are whispers the Yankees might try to satisfy both needs on a lesser scale. A rumor beginning to make the rounds: Ricky Ledee and young Ed Yarnall to the San Francisco Giants for Ellis Burks and Shawn Estes.

``The season isn't young anymore,'' Jeter said. ``We're not playing well, and we haven't been playing well from the beginning.''

Added Posada: ``We're not having any fun out there.''

Even the little things, which always seemed to go the Yankees' way as they won three of the last four championships, are going wrong.

Clemens' diamond-studded World Series ring, for example, had the wrong number inscribed. Rather than his No. 22, it had No. 33 — the uniform worn by David Wells before he was traded to Toronto for Clemens.

``They were thinking of me when they made that ring,'' Wells joked Sunday in Boston. ``They loved me there. Tell the fans I miss them.''