Sunday, October 17, 2004

ALCS Game 3

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, New York Yankees 19

"Wait, there's been a slaughter here. Don't stop to speak or look around, your gloves and fan are on the ground. We're getting out of town, we're going on the run...and you're the one I want to come"
- Jim Morrison

What can you say? The pitching in this game was like a cut that breaks open every time you think it's scabbed over, bleeding runs every time the top two thirds of the Yankee lineup came around. No one could make their pitches and the New York offence just jumped all over everything they saw. Sheffield and Matsui were like hitting machines designed to kill pitchers and they made the Sox look BAD. Meanwhile, the Sox offence had what should have been a good night - fifteen hits, eight runs, a few homers; they drove starter Kevin Brown out of the game and even had the lead for the first time in this series briefly in the second. For a while it looked like the two teams would go back and forth, until the Yankees blew it open in the fourth.

The problem on the offensive end was the base running and more specifically Dale Sveum, another coach who won't be able to show his face around Boston again after this season. I watched the first three innings on FOX in the Bronx tonight and I saw the two plays that resulted in crucial outs: first, in the first inning, when David Ortiz hit a single to right and Dale Sveum tried to get Manny to third on the play. Manny was called out in a bad call - it was pretty clear from the replay that he was safe - but that wasn't the point. It was a standard single to right. Gary Sheffield does not have a weak arm. Manny Ramirez is no Dave Wallace and even if he was, what are you doing trying to get a runner to third when you're down by three, especially with two outs? The maxim that you should never make the first or the third out at third base applies here, Dale and you should (and probably will) be fired at the end of the season on that call alone...but then there was the second mistake.

In the third inning, the Yankees came back with a three run rally to make the score 6 - 4. In the bottom of the inning, Brown loaded the bases and Cabrera hit a double to center...a double that should have scored two runs. For whatever reason, since clearly getting Manny to third from first didn't work, Sveum decides to send Bill Mueller, who was on first at the time of the hit, from third to home. Bernie Williams hits the cutoff man, who throws Mueller out at the plate easily. Inning over. Rally cut off at a tie and the Yankees score five runs in the next inning. Ridiculous. At this point, I could coach third base better than Dale Sveum. I just wish now that after the Front Office resigns Varitek and Cabrera and possibly Pedro and Mientkiewicz and fire Francona and Co., they get a manager who's actually been a manager before, so we can stop with these stupid experiments in manager training that lead to one of the best Red Sox teams ever assembled winning 98 games instead of 105+ and failing, once again, to get past the New York Yankees and into (and heck, winning) the World Series. We'll see - as Micah put it, fire Francona on Monday, press conference on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, the Sox are sending up Derek Lowe, who has a 9.28 ERA with a .354 batting average against the Yankees this year, because Francona was forced to bring in Tim Wakefield, tomorrow's nominal starter, to try and put out the fire. No one else can start the game and even though Francona talks about winning, I don't see how, when all he's got is his worst starter, who hasn't won a start since early September and who can't pitch against the Yankees this year anyway. This isn't doom and gloom defeatism either - no team has ever come back to even win a game, let alone a series, in the ALCS, when down 3 - 0.* So basically, the season is over. Barring a miracle tomorrow, I'll be back tomorrow evening to move this year's edition of The Diary of a Red Sox Fan into post-season mode. GO SOX!!!

* - This statistic is not the only piece of history from this game - the 19 runs scored by the Yankees are the most ever scored in a post-season game and the combined 37 hits are the most hits ever given up in a post-season game. At four hours and twenty-ish minutes, it's also the longest post-season game ever played. It was a brutal, brutal game.