Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Game 100: A Game of Inches

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Cleveland Indians 0

I think there's a cliche out there about baseball being a matter of inches. I hate cliches and I try to avoid them, but tonight's pitchers' duel, where the winning run crossed the plate with thirty-four outs left to contest in the game...a matter of inches. "Contest" seems to be the right word, too; even though people usually cast football as the sport simulacrum for war, tonight's game was a battle, a hard-fought contest where, like the raging armies in battling in the trenches of World War I, one side fought desperately to keep a position and the other to take it. It was truly a clash of titans.

On a related note, I'm 90% convinced we owe tonight's successfully epic match up to my not putting Sabathia in my fantasy lineup this week.

Anyway,not to denigrate the performances of Messrs Matsuzaka, Okajima and Papelbon by not talking about their contributions even further, but I'd like to focus on those few, precious inches that separated win from extra innings and the threat of a possible loss. These two tasty morsels should be savored like a fine wine, because they're probably the only thing that kept the Yankees from gaining ground. First up:

Kevin Youkilis drops a single in front of Trot Nixon. Youk's been starting to pull out of his slump recently, so it was nice to see him keep things going tonight by going 2 for 4. For his second hit of the night, he dropped a 2 and 1 pitch in the heart of the zone right in front of Trot in right for a one out single. Nixon got a late break, dove and did a convincing enough job trying to trap the ball that Indians manager Eric Wedge had have a discussion with the umpire. You know; for appearances sake. Those of us without second sight could not foresee the importance of this hit at the time, but things started to congeal when Manny took the third pitch he saw into left field, moving Youkilis to second. Two batters later...

Mike Lowell drops a single in front of Ben Francisco. You have to feel a little sorry for Ben. He didn't just get a late break; he was playing too deep, misread the ball and broke the wrong way before sprinting to potential recovery. To his credit, he came about as close as Nixon did to selling his dive and I have no doubt that things were but a better reaction away from a totally different outcome. However, the ball bounced for a single, Youkilis motored in from second, scoring the game's only run. Francisco went on to compound his night's misfortune by striking out looking on three pitches to end the game. I bet he's having a swell night.