It started with unexpectedly short outings from starting pitchers Roger Clemens and Jon Garland -- short in terms of innings, but not necessarily brief appearances. The White Sox took Clemens for a shocking season-high eight runs, all in the second inning. And even more unexpectedly, the Yankees turned around and matched the total in the second half of the frame, stretching it out to last exactly one hour.
"It's a situation where it was not good," Clemens said. "I got the guys behind, and it was neat that they got back into it. It was pretty incredible, actually, to sit there and watch the guys battle back. But it was just too much."
Seeing the team bring out the super slugging they've showcased in the past two days to erase the deficit, everyone -- fans included -- felt the Yankees would come out of the day with the win.
"To get eight runs back like that, we felt pretty good about ourselves," manager Joe Torre said. "The only time we really felt that we had a lot of work to do was when they got those two extra in the eighth inning, but I'm proud of this club and the way we kept fighting back. But again, it was way too much."
New York quickly erased Chicago's eight-run advance, chasing Garland after just 1 1/3 innings, when Boone Logan, who recorded the win for the White Sox, took over. The Yankees' eight runs came off a season-high nine hits in the one inning, including another unexpected surprise in a three-run homer from newcomer Wilson Betemit.
Giving Derek Jeter a rest for the day at shortstop, Betemit sent a 2-1 pitch over the left-center-field wall in his first at-bat as a Yankee to collect his 11th home run of the season. It was only fitting that Jeter nudged his replacement for the day up the dugout steps to earn his first curtain call at Yankee Stadium.
"It was nice to see Wilson get off on the right foot," Torre said. "It gives us an offensive option that makes it a little easier to give these guys a little rest."
Alex Rodriguez, still just one home run away from No. 500, also broke out of his recent rut, going 2-for-5 on the afternoon, scoring once and plating one run. Rodriguez's RBI single in the second inning snapped an 0-for-22 slump dating back to home run No. 499 off Kansas City's Gil Meche on July 25.
Because of the afternoon game, Rodriguez wasn't blinded as he has been lately by camera flashbulbs, which since his 499th homer have lit up Yankee Stadium like Rockefeller Center during the holidays.
"It was probably the most relaxed since Kansas City today," Rodriguez said. "I don't try to do too much. If it comes, it comes."
Clemens wasn't even able to make it all the way through the second, as Chicago knocked out the 44-year-old veteran after just 1 2/3 innings, his shortest start since June 14, 2000, against Boston.
The White Sox tagged him for eight runs -- though only three of them were earned -- on 11 hits in the second frame. Jermaine Dye boomed a run-scoring double over Melky Cabrera's head in center to score the first run of the inning. Later, Robinson Cano bobbled a ground ball at second, missing the chance to record the second out, loading the bases and allowing Chicago to score five more runs in the inning.
"We gave them too many outs in that second half," Torre said. "If you asked [Cabrera] now, he'd probably say he could have caught it, but at that time, he played it the way he saw it and the ball just kept going on him."
Torre replaced Clemens with reliever Mike Myers. After walking one batter, Myers found himself out of the game, too, as Jeff Karstens took the mound and suffered his second loss of the season.
Dye's two-run homer off Karstens in the fourth put the White Sox ahead, bringing Jim Thome across the plate after doubling to start the inning. Scott Podsednik's RBI single in the fifth extended the lead to three runs.
"It's always disappointing when you don't give your team a chance to win the game, especially when you're thinking about the playoff race," Karstens said. "You've got to move on and go to tomorrow."
Bobby Abreu added a solo home run, a 3-2 pitch sent to the right-field stands, that brought the Yankees within two runs, but Chicago added runs on two homers off struggling Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth -- Paul Konerko's first of the game and Dye's second.
The second-inning scoring spree marked only the second time in baseball history that two teams have scored eight or more runs each in the same inning. The first came just three years ago on May 8, 2004, when the Rangers beat the Tigers, 16-15, at Texas.
"It might have been a little easier to take it if you ended up winning the game," Clemens said. "But it was just too much for the guys to overcome."