Before I begin, (and before I forget once again) thank you to everyone who’s commented. Every comment is appreciated and keep them coming.
The Yankees leveled the season series at four wins apiece. Looking at the final score leads one to the simple conclusion that the Yankees got a flurry of hits and the Red Sox didn’t. Right? No need for a recap. Actually Boston had only one hit less than New York’s total. Tonight’s was a wild game from the get go. Coco led off with a double. Then Mussina strikes out the side. In the Yankees half, Damon walks and Melky chops one to Beckett who threw bad to second base, making only one out possible. Then with Giambi batting, a pitch in the dirt got by Varitek and Melky tries for second. Varitek’s throw went into the outfield so Melky goes to third, but third base coach Larry Bowa sends Melky home because no one is covering the plate. Varitek was covering third and I don’t know where Beckett and Youkilis were. Melky scores for the early lead. In Boston’s third inning Nixon, Youkilis and Lowell rattled off three singles, which scored a run. Varitek grounded into a double play to score a second run. The Yankees begin the second with six straight hits. Phillips jacks a three run shot to left. Giambi jacks a three run shot to right. Van Buren relieved Beckett and the Yankees score another five runs off him in the third.
The craziest play of the game though was in the bottom of the third, Bernie on first base with one out. Cairo taps a ball in front of the plate and Varitek assumed it was in play, tagged Cairo for one and threw to second for the double play. So the BoSox took off, the inning ended and ESPN cuts to a commercial break. When they come back, Francona was argueing as he should have been, because the umps change their call slightly. Cairo is ruled out from the tag but Bernie returns to first because he was never tagged. So play resumes and Damon walks, Melky doubles, Giambi walks, A-Rod walks, Riske relieved and promptly hit Posada to force in the eleventh run. Then Cano doubles to make it thirteen. And that was it. No more Yankee scoring in the next six innings.
Mussina didn’t pitch his best tonight. 6 innings, 5 runs (4 earned), 8 hits, 8 strike outs (a season high) is a winning line, but he looked less in control than he has in previous starts. He threw 101 pitches in those 6 innings. Give the BoSox credit. Their lineup is dangerous and patient. They took a lot of pitches and made Mussina work hard. But give Mussina credit also. He kept the scoring at a minimum and battled through some tough at-bats. I honestly was afraid the Red Sox would come back. If the Yankees could score 13 runs in a hurry, why couldn’t Boston? No lead is a safe lead. 11 runs was all Boston needed. And what’s the name of my blog? If the Yankees did it, I believe Crisp, Loretta, Ortiz, Manny, Nixon, Youkilis, Lowell, Varitek and Gonzales could do the same. Our bullpen though was good news.
Tomorrow’s matchup is Chien-Ming Wang v. David Pauley. Pauley’s only start with Boston this year and big league debut came at the end of May against Toronto. He pitched decently into the fifth inning, only allowed two runs at that point before the Jays jostled him for 4 runs. So only one bad inning accounts for his ERA of 12.46. He looked commanding in what were his first four major league innings though. And he wasn’t facing Kansas City. He had to deal with Glaus, Overbay, Catalanotto and Rios. I won’t consider tomorrow an easy win.
Chad Cordero got his 10th save. Tyler Walker saved his 10th also. Turnbow saved his 16th. Isringhausen blew his 4th save. Tom Gordon saved his 18th.
Lots of good in tonight’s win. Moose ends what he starts, crunching six inconsequential hits on the side like soda cans and sitting down 5 Tigers on the K. The only Detroit run was unearned and came in the ninth after A-Rod’s throwing error let Polanco reach base. But how can you fault a guy that went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs? Timely hitting from a jumble Yankee lineup trickled in 4 runs in the eighth and ninth, padding that save situation lead of 2-0. Mariano pitched a beaut last night, 3 inning relief, and the Moose gave his bullpen some pillows to rest on. Giambi’s bat swung for 3 hits, outwitting the shift strategem. Cabrera, Cairo, Phillips and Long took the field, aiding fellow Yankees with bigger names in recuperating. Overall, a beautiful ballgame, the whole roster utilized and winning together in tandem with Moose’s pitches, elusive and twinkling until that high thump of a fastball meeting leather and the umpire pulling the trigger.
The Giambino slung two loopers through gaps between third and second, responding to an impenetrable defense of gloves to his right. I remember a game last year in which Giambi bunted down the line. Just as we see Cabrera developing in the bigs, it’s a thrill to watch Giambi solve the puzzle and make that shift decision more iffy. I hope he keeps it up and normalizes that infield.
There came a play put on by Detroit in the late innings when first and second were occupied with no outs I think, and Leyland optioned for a bunt toward the charging first baseman. This allowed Phillips an empty and crystal clear path to throw out the runner at third, which he did. If the bunt was directed toward A-Rod, and if it was hit equally hard, then the only play would’ve been to first. I don’t think gambling on complications beats the sure out at first. That could’ve made a huge difference. With one out and two runners in scoring position a single could empty the bags, drastically altering the game, maybe forcing a move to the bullpen, instead it setup a potential twin killing. I don’t recall what actually happened but whatever happened allowed Moose to charge ahead unscathed and calm the home crowd to a murmur. If you were watching the game, what did you think of this play?
And what did you think of Phillips pushing for a double in the ninth? The ball wasn’t deep and a quick bobble by the outfielder didn’t add the seconds needed to slide in safely. It was 4-0 at this time, Phillips was the leadoff, and I think he should’ve settled at first base. Hustle and aggression are important though for October bound teams and seeing that from a bench player is good news, signs of the talent Torre has at his fingertips to tap at a moment’s notice. I bet that down the road in a clutch spot in a big game Phillips tries that again and pulls it off.
Chad Cordero saved his 8th game, Trevor Hoffman his 11th and Papelbon his 19th.
Boston needs to keep Papelbon. They don’t need advice, but I think being the team with the unhittable, unsolvable, dead end closer after Mariano leaves the Rivalry in a few years will play a huge part in gaining ground on New York in the bragging race. Obviously he’ll help them win and will streamline Francona’s bullpen plans during a game, but he will also serve as the trophy Boston can taunt every club with. As New York has boasted the game’s best closer during the last decade, Boston has the chance to replace them, to boast the ownership of the new pitcher who literally stops the game a few innings short. The pitcher who makes every manager leave for the clubhouse when he comes in. The pitcher who is simply the best.
I’m glad Roger stayed with the Astros. His presence will be more important and more noticed in Houston. Going to New York or Boston would give Roger more pressure than he needs, considering it would stoke the fires of this already blazing rivalry. Helping the Astros recover from their slump and challenge a National League brimming with playoff contenders will make this last season, if it is indeed his last, easier and more fun. Won’t it be awesome if he leads them to another World Series? I’m rooting for it. Go Rocket!