Saturday, July 16, 2005

Games 89 - 91: Wake Up, Dead Man

Final Scores:

Game 89: Boston Red Sox 13, New York Yankees 1
Game 90: Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 7
Game 91: Boston Red Sox 3, New York Yankees 5

Friday's game was a no-brainer. None of the string of Yankee pitchers that came up against Boston in the 13 - 1 rout had a chance of shutting the Sox down, nor should they have. Big Papi hit a grand slam, Trot Nixon had a three run inside-the-park home run (spelling the end for center fielder Melky Cabrera, who did not field Nixon's drive properly) and the Golden Buddha was golden, going seven innings with five hits and one earned run.

Saturday's game wasn't a forgone conclusion, but Boston's cause was not helped by Matt Clement's poor outing. Clement looked lost on the mound, finally losing it completely in the third when, with two outs, an errant pitch went behind Gary Sheffield's back. Sheffield turned the next pitch around into a double and Alex Rodriguez made it 2 - 0 with a home run the next at bat. After walking Matsui and Giambi, Williams drove in another run with an RBI single, Tino Martinez walked and John Flaherty hit a two run double, making the score 6 - 0.

I must admit, I had a weird premonition that there would be a big Yankee rally with two outs, right before Sheffield came up. I'm not sure if I should stop thinking during baseball games, or if I need to start saying these things out loud so they won't come true, but these things need to stop.

You may notice that the Moron Counter has gone up by one. By the fifth inning, the Sox had knocked the deficit down to 6 - 4, with solo homers by Bellhorn and Ramirez in the third and fourth and an RBI double by Ramirez and an RBI single by Millar in the fifth. With Millar on second and Mirabelli on first, Bill Mueller singled to center. Mirabelli, who seems to have a better idea of the strength (or lack thereof) of Bernie Williams' arm, went around second base with head down and kept going for third...where Sveum was holding Millar. By the time Mirabelli reversed directions, he was gone, 8-5-6. With two outs and runner on the corners instead of one out with runners on the corners or the bases loaded, Mark Bellhorn struck out (of course) and ended the inning and the Sox chances of knocking Randy Johnson out of the game. Mirabelli, Francona, Millar and Sveum all blame Mirabelli for the mistake. Personally, I think Mirabelli and Sveum deserve equal blame: Doug should have his head up when he's running and Dale should know the abilities of outfielders better than he does.

Of course, the base running mistake was just a part of the Sox bad luck on Saturday: in the sixth, David Ortiz hit a bomb that would have been out anywhere else in the world...but he dropped it into the triangle where Williams was able to haul it in for a long out. Johnson pitched into the seventh and the tag team of Gordon and Rivera had no problems closing out the game. On the plus side: Jeremi Gonzalez picked up Clement's slack by pitching three and a 1/3rd innings of one run, five hit baseball, keeping the load off the bullpen. Embree, Timlin and Schilling each pitched a scoreless inning; Schilling picked up a strike out in the process.

Yesterday the Yankees pitched Al Leiter, acquired the day before from the Marlins. Leiter pitched like his three and seven record and 6.64 didn't exist, going sixth and a third innings and giving up three hits and one run. The Sox mounted a rally in the ninth which, of course, included a controversial double play call at first involving Alex Cora. After the game, reporters questioned why Cora, who came on as a substitution for Mark Bellhorn (jammed thumb in the fourth, came out in the eighth) was batting in such an important situation anyway. Cora had never faced Rivera before; Francona could have opted to substitute in Olerud, who is three for thirteen against Rivera, but did not because he refuses to put Bill Mueller in at second base. Johnny Damon, who extended his hit streak to 29 games the at bat before, ended the game by grounding to second base.

With Wakefield pitching a complete game and the lack of an effective bench to deal with close game offensive substitutions, I have to wonder why the Sox are carrying twelve pitchers right now. Presumably, the Schilling experiment is part of the reason, along with the woes of the bullpen before the All-Star Break. If the offense were hitting the way they should, having twelve pitchers would make sense, but Friday aside, the hitting hasn't been terribly consistent. The Sox need this next series to get back in step and get more of lead than the half game they currently have over New York in first place; if the offense comes back online, then a large bullpen could make more sense.

Wade Miller versus Scott Kazimir for tonight's 7:05 start. GO SOX!!!

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