Joe Torre and the New York Yankees kept hoping they’d see a turnaround in Jeff Weaver’s season. And they did -- right in the middle of the game.
Stung by a three-run home run from Jeromy Burnitz in the first inning, the struggling Weaver settled down and pitched the Yankees past the New York Mets, 5-3, Sunday night for a season sweep of the Subway Series.
“It’s been a long time waiting,” Weaver said. “I’ve battled through a lot of things. Back and forth, mentally and emotionally.”
Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada homered in a rapid-fire third inning against Al Leiter (8-5), and the largest crowd this season at Yankee Stadium -- 55,444 -- saw the Yankees finish 6-0 against their city rivals.
The Yankees tied their longest winning streak this year at seven games and reached the halfway mark at 51-30.
Bounced in and out of the rotation lately, Weaver (4-6) had been 0-4 in six starts since his last victory May 15. He pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and retired 14 consecutive batters in one stretch.
“You scratch your head,” Torre said. “Every time you send him out there, you feel this is going to be the game. Tonight was a huge game for him.”
Especially because some tough choices are coming up. Rookie Brandon Claussen was impressive in his major league debut Saturday night against the Mets, and there’s not much room left in a rotation that already includes Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, David Wells and Andy Pettitte.
“It’s not between Weaver and Claussen,” Torre said. “Whatever, it was big for him tonight. He had a big smile on his face.”
Met Manager Art Howe, whose team lost its fifth in a row, was ejected for the first time this season. He was tossed for arguing a call at third base in the third inning.
“This is not a happy moment in our baseball lives, that’s for sure,” Leiter said.