NEW YORK -- Bronson Arroyo figured the second rain delay last night at Yankee Stadium marked the end of his outing. But when manager Terry Francona told him to stay warm, Arroyo got his first indication he would return to the mound after a stoppage that lasted a little more than an hour.
"I didn't think they were going to let me come back out, but [Francona] said go in, ride the bike, stay warm, and it sounded like he wanted to let me go," said Arroyo. "I was fine once I got out there. I threw maybe 20 pitches and felt pretty good. It's just hard to get your adrenaline and your game going again. I felt really good [at the beginning of the game] and felt OK after the delay. But I battled and just tried to keep us close."
Arroyo, who gave up just four hits, kept the game close enough that the Red Sox could come from behind for a 3-2 victory in the ninth inning. In the end, Mother Nature did more to take the righthander off his game than the Yankees. Just when the righthander appeared to establish an effective rhythm and collect a strikeout of Jason Giambi, the umpires halted the game a second time.
Arroyo's counterpart, Orlando Hernandez, did not return, but Arroyo continued and saw his efficiency taper off after a promising re-start. He did fan John Olerud and Derek Jeter in the third.
But then Alex Rodriguez opened the fourth with a double to right-center. Gary Sheffield followed with a single to center. Next, Kevin Millar made a diving stop on Jorge Posada's grounder that plated Rodriguez and evened the score, 1-1. In the fifth, Olerud hit a home run to right-center, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead that would last until the ninth. Arroyo allowed two earned runs on four hits in six innings, a very respectable performance, moreso considering the circumstances.
As a result of the Red Sox' late rally, the righthander avoided his first loss in more than a month. Arroyo took the mound at Yankee Stadium having recorded seven wins in his last nine decisions. He's clearly peaking at the right time.
"In the beginning, I felt like I mixed up my pitches a little bit different than I had against these guys in the past," said Arroyo, who threw 89 pitches, 55 for strikes. "I got some quick outs which allowed me to be fresh, which I think also helped coming back after the rain delay.
"I started the game out with a breaking ball and I was surprised Jeter swung at it. I tried to work inside a little bit more."
Arroyo set the tone for Derek Lowe, who pitches this afternoon, and Pedro Martinez, who concludes the set tomorrow. And although he did not earn a decision, Arroyo sees New York as vulnerable.
"They've been on top for so long and they've had such a big lead early on in the year," said Arroyo. "When we start creeping closer, regardless of how good a team you think you have, you lose some games, it's got to have an effect on you mentally. The roll we've been on in the last month, month and a half, is big for us. Coming in here we felt confident, and hopefully, the next two [games] we'll have as much energy as we did tonight."