Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Game 33: And...Switch!

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, New York Yankees 7

Kinda like last night, only the opposite result and our bullpen is better. Perhaps bolstered (or is it scared?) by the Passion of the Boss, the Yankees spoiled another marquee-pitching match up by roughing up Schilling for six runs over five innings. At first I thought the Sox were going to seal the deal in the first: a two-run Papi bomb in the top of the inning and Schilling getting through the first with only a single to Giambi. Lowell added a run with a solo shot in the second, we’re all feeling fine…and then the Yankees grab one back in their half of the inning. Then tie up the game with Giambi’s second homer in as many games in the third. I think Giambi might this year’s Sheffield: small sample size so far, but he’s the only one to have consistent success against Boston pitching this year.

Two more homers in the fifth to seal the deal, with an RBI single in the sixth as insurance from Damon, who chose to end his personal slump against Boston tonight and that’s basically all we got. The Boston bats that have been so loud in the past few days were all quiet, Mussina hit most of his spots after the second and putting Willie Harris in the eight hole instead of Peña didn’t help. I assume putting Harris in the lineup tonight was a numbers decision only – the team did just get a day off two days ago – but even though Harris has had very good numbers in the fifteen times he’s faced Mussina in the past, Wily Mo’s numbers against right-handers this season are equally impressive, so those deciding numbers probably weren’t offensive ones. At least I hope not, although the way most of the lineup was (or wasn’t) hitting tonight, switching players probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

However, no need to become raving lunatics quite yet…Keep Your Sox On doesn’t believe there are 162 seasons a year and this isn’t Boston Dirt Dogs. There are two silver linings to keep in mind: first, along with that homer, Papi hit three singles, including one that squirted through that damn shift that teams keep using against him. Like Soxaholix said two day ago, Papi goes into a slump and it’s the calm before the storm. Tonight was thunder crackling with the storm on a course to pass directly overhead. Second, Schill might not have been at his best tonight, but the bullpen did a pretty good job. Tito kept new guy Mike Holtz on a short leash, so he only gave up one run in his third of an inning of work, but Timlin, Tavarez and Papelbon shut down the New York offense for the night, giving Boston the (unused) chance to mount a comeback. At the end of the season, when it’s stretch drive time and a loss can mean the AL East title, that bullpen strength might make the difference between a win and a loss.

Tomorrow night, Yankees nemesis Tim Wakefield against Shawn Chacon for the series win. Will the knuckleball dance its way out of the nightmares of Yankee hitters and on to the field of play? Will the Red Sox bats strike bat with a vengeance terrible to behold? Only time will tell. GO SOX!!!