Saturday, October 01, 2005

Game 160: Tito's Back

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 3

"Good man...Tito's pro-managing and pro-winning."

In the end, there was one thing that impressed me about tonight’s game more than anything else – more than David Wells picking up win number 15 with 7 innings of strong 3 run, 3 hit, 2 walk, 5 strike out “screw my hurting knee and don’t mess with my damn cake” big game pitching, more than Big Papi RBI number 47 to tie things up for the Sox after Wells ran out of a tough first inning jam, more than the Cap’n going for long ball number 22 to put the Sox permanently on top, more than the hometown team finally jumping on Chien-Ming Wang in the sixth after several goofy base running miscues to score three runs on a walk, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly – one thing, above all others, showed me that after last’s night triumphant victory and the start of the most important series of the regular season, that the Sox are in this thing for the long haul: Terry Francona started using his bullpen like he meant business. All of the sudden, it was the 2004 post-season all over again and pitchers – both starters and relievers – were on a leash tighter than Boomer’s waistband after a good gorging.

With Wells at 101 pitches after 7 innings, Francona went to Chad Bradford to start the eighth…and I start to twitch, fully expecting Bradford to be out the whole inning, regardless of who he’s facing. I can feel the lead start to slip away to the power of Yankee bats before Sheffield even steps to the plate…and then one pitch later Sheffield is out a ground ball. Out pops Francona, a man fully in control of his situation, miraculously going to Mike Myers to face the lefty (Matsui) like I’ve been praying for him to do since the All-Star Break. ‘This is it,’ I think. ‘This is the sign that the Sox are going to make it to the post-season, or tear the Earth asunder trying.’ And then, just to underscore the truth of it all, Francona pulls Myers to go to Timlin against the switch-hitting Posada after Myers gets Matsui on 11 pitches. It was simply masterful. Timlin gets his four outs, picks up save lucky number 13 and all of the sudden it’s 1 down, 2 to go, Boston’s back in a first place tie and (as an added bonus), Cleveland falls to the Other Sox 2 to 3 and I’m on cloud nine and going up.

Tomorrow afternoon it’s the rematch of the Wakefield/Johnson battle royale with Timmy pitching on short rest in front of the adoring thousands. This one is the big one boys, so go get ‘em. GO SOX!!!