Starting pitcher Kevin Brown slightly injured his knee while covering first base in the fifth inning with the Yankees trailing 2-1. Brian Roberts led off the Orioles' sixth inning with a double and advanced on Brown's wild pitch, which didn't make the expensive right-hander very happy.
Melvin Mora walked and then Miguel Tejada hit a line drive up the middle that struck Brown's left forearm. Rafael Palmeiro grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Brown was livid. He stormed around the clubhouse the way Amar'e Stoudemire stomped on his way to the locker room in Miami after the Heat defeated the New York Knicks on Monday night. Stoudemire punched the glass case protecting a fire extinguisher. Brown punched the clubhouse wall with his left hand, breaking two bones.
Despite having a frustrating season, Brown was still 10-3 before the Orioles beat him. He had missed seven weeks in June and July with a strained back and an intestinal parasite. A fierce competitor, Brown was far from pleased with events.
The injury had a tremendous impact on the Yankees' pennant chances. Joe Torre, who usually supported his players regardless of their transgressions, was visibly upset.
"There's more to this game than one person," Torre told the media."We rely on him a great deal. It's not something that's helping the team, obviously."
Brown was remorseful, but that was of little help against the Red Sox during the ALCS. After his losing battle with the clubhouse wall, Brown spoke, calling his action "stupid."
"I reacted to frustration I've swallowed all year...There are no excuses. I let it boil over and I did something stupid. I owe my teammates an apology."
The Yankees won the division by three games over the Red Sox and defeated the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, but they then suffered the most ignominious defeat in playoff history.
No one knows if a healthy Brown could have managed to help the Yankees win the one game they would never win, but certainly it wouldn't have been too difficult to have done better than he did if he had never smashed the clubhouse wall.
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