Seriously, when are they going to announce the death of Kenny Lofton? The Yankees don't have a deep or effective bench, but Lofton has value as a left-handed bat and pinch-runner. Over the past two nights, there have been countless points at which he should have been inserted into the game for Jorge Posada, for the execrable Tony Clark, or for Ruben Sierra. Torre hasn't taken advantage of any of these, and it's cost the Yankees dearly.
Consider that last night, Sierra reached first with two outs in the ninth inning and Keith Foulke pitching. Foulke isn't great with baserunners, and getting the go-ahead run to second base has a lot of value with two outs in the ninth. Had Lofton been deployed as a pinch-runner, as Dave Roberts had been used, to steal second, he could have scored on Clark's ground-rule double and this column would be much, much shorter.
Later, Gary Sheffield reached on a strikeout while leading off the 13th inning, this time with Tim Wakefield on the mound. Wakefield, like most knuckleball pitchers, is pretty easy to steal on. Had Lofton been given an opportunity to do so, the Yankees could have taken advantage of the passed balls yielded by Jason Varitek in the inning and perhaps scored. As it was, the Varitek let three balls get past him--he catches Wakefield as often as Torre pinch-hits--but the Yankees couldn’t score.
Sierra struck out to end that inning, his second straight ugly strikeout. (He'd gone down in the 10th while swinging and missing pitches at ankle level and forehead level, which is some kind of achievement in GuillenLand.) With runners on base, you don't need a deep drive, just a line drive, preferably one that finds grass. Lofton isn't Juan Pierre, but he's certainly a better choice than Sierra if what you need is a single.
I've concluded that Lofton is actually dead, and that the Yankees are withholding this information so as to keep the Red Sox having to think about him, as well as to abide my MLB's edict about making announcements that take attention from the playoffs. It's awfully mean to Kenny's friends, family and fans, though. [i]
A few notes.......I would NOT have pinch run for Sierra because there were 2 outs. If there were 0 or 1 out, I would have probably done it. I also wouldn't pinch run for Sheffield because he isn't that slow. What I would have done is steal him. You need to make Varitek catch the ball cleanly, which he couldn't do, and also make a great throw to get him. Finally, I wouldn't have pinch hit for Sierra because he was 3-for-3 and was swinging the bat well.
They did it again last night--Sierra as the tying run at 1B with two outs in the bottom of the 9th and they leave him in there instead of putting in Lofton. It turned out not to matter because Clark struck out, but put someone in for Sierra in that situation.
Despite his age and size, Sierra is pretty quick. I think he would have scored on a double. He's obviously not as fast as Lofton, so putting Lofton in would help a little, but it's not like Sierra is David Ortiz or anything.
But definately, Lofton should have made an appearance by now (other than the 2 games they let him start). Don't the Yankees see that Dave Roberts saved Boston's life in games 4 and 5? Is Sierra THAT much better than Lofton? I don't think so. Put in the speedster once in a while. Late in the game and down by 1, less than 2 outs (and maybe even with 2 outs, depending), if Posada, Clark, Sierra, or Bernie reach base, I'd put Lofton in.
"Jack, will you call me, if you're able?"
"I've got your phone number written, in the back of my Bible."