Yankees-Mariners: Johnny Damon Has Monster Weekend as Yanks Sweep

Shawn DommerAnalyst IMay 4, 2008

He is not the Johnny Damon of the World Champion Red Sox — and he certainly isn't the hot young player he was with the Royals or A's — but Johnny Damon is still a factor.

He's a little slower and his defense isn't what it used to be. He's lost the everyday center fielder role and he's not in the lineup every game, but he still can be a catalyst for a team needing a spark.

The Yankees are mired in mediocrity, and all signs point to Hank Steinbrenner's eruption any day now.

An offense that was supposed to give the young second half of their rotation room to grow sputtered through April, losing three of their biggest guns (Jeter, Posada and ARod) to injury at some point in the month. In fact, Posada was never healthy.

Their high-priced first baseman is only hitting .150. Giambi does have five home runs and 15 RBI's but none of importance. Robinson Cano was supposed to build on his break out year, but he is only hitting .154 with three home runs and eight RBI.

The Yankees looked sluggish splitting a series with the struggling Indians and looked outclassed by the re-emerging Tigers as they got swept.

The Yankees needed a good showing against a very good Seattle team or there was fear that the season may be slipping away from Joe Girardi and the Yankees.

The Yankees put up 19 runs over the weekend against the top of the Mariners' rotation, including Erik Bedard and Felix Rodriguez. Damon played Saturday and Sunday going 5-for-10 with a home run, two RBI, five runs and a stolen base.

Everyone knows that Damon is capable of sparking a lineup and maybe this series will do just that. With so much pressure in New York, maybe an "idiot" is exactly what the Yankees need.

With a no-nonsense owner, a professional manager and a host of bad news injuries it can probably get hard to relax in the Yankees' clubhouse these days.

Damon can lead the young kids (Duncan, Melky and Cano) along with Giambi and Abreu to a relaxed playing style which the slumping Cano and Giambi may find conducive to their improvements.

The professionalism of Jeter, ARod, Matsui, Pettitte and Mussina should keep the powers that be happy.

Bottom Line: If you want your offense to be relaxed and consistent, let Johnny be Johnny.

The Yankees should not only be happy with the offense, but also the pitching staff, which held a good lineup to only four runs over three games.

Specifically, Darrell Rasner who was downright brilliant in his 2008 debut, causing Yankees' fans to ask Ian Who?

Rasner went six innings giving up five hits and two runs, both in the first inning. He settled down to pitch five innings of scoreless ball.

The Yanks also received stellar performances from their ace Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina, who is starting to stabilize with two solid outings in a row. If Rasner can be dependable, the Yanks will have at least four reliable starters and an awakening offense.

The Yankees could pose trouble in the logjammed AL East.