Still working, so no pithy gerbil droppings. Can’t believe we’ve played these guys 12 times. Yanks are down early in the first with Phil on the mound and the SatanFish running at will. Comment away.
Friday, August 31st, 2007
All it took was a sweep of the first place Boston Red Sox, but it seems as if the hope is back in Yankeeland. Seattle has hit a rough patch (3-7 in their last 10) and it has opened a window for the Yankees to take the Wild Card lead. In fifteen days these two clubs meet again for a 3 game series in Boston. Is it possible for the Yankees to get close enough over the next two weeks to turn the battle for the AL East into a legitimate race? Before the September 14th – 16th match-ups the Yankees will play twelve games, six at home, six on the road. The Red Sox will play thirteen games, nine at home, four on the road. The Yankees are 31-35 on the road and 44-24 at home. While the Red Sox are 40-31 on the road and 40-23 at home.
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
A brilliant game on a brilliant afternoon today, marred only by a little late-inning weirdness, and perhaps a certain lack of serious drama at the end. It looked like we might get it. Chien-Ming Wang took a no-no into the 7th, only to have it broken up by a Mike Lowell single following on the heels of a Jeter error. (Derek was 4-for-4, so no complaints about his day). Wang was nearly matched by Curt Schilling, who went 7 innings (and looked like he might have gone further), allowing but two solo dingers to Robi Cano. The Yanks broke it open with 3 in thee 8th off Hideki Okajima, 2 runs coming off a throwing error by the other Captain, Jason Varitek, looking to nab Alex on the back end of a double-steal. There was some controversy in the 7th, when Youk was called out for running outside the baseline (Tito ejected), and a bit more in the 9th, when Joba was bounced for tossing at Youk’s head. Edwar Ramirez finished up. The Yanks are now 5 back of the Sox, and .5 up in the WC pending tonight’s M’s game. A fun day of baseball, especially for YFs. Talk amongst yourselves.
On May 4th, The Boston Red Sox laid claim to the best record in the American League. The Sox briefly relinqueshed that title to the Halos on July 1st and 2nd, and traded it off with the Halos and the Tigers on July 17th-23rd, but have held that distinguishing mark since that time, meaning that the Sox have been, by record, the best team in the AL for 143 out of the 150 days since the beginning of the season way back in April.
Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s back-to-back losses to the Yankees are only the second time in the month of August the Sox have lost consecutive games. Since August 1st, the Sox have gone 16-11 which is their best month of ball by winning percentage since May, and Boston has allowed 13 fewer runs in one less game played compared to that month. The Bombers have gone 17-10, but have been less consistent in their play and have had several truly horrific outings (including two shutout/blowouts); the 158 runs allowed (their worst month by 33 runs) is a significant stigma to their record.
Today’s getaway game sees Chien-Ming Wang on the bump for the Yankees as Curt Schilling gets the ball for the Sox. Wang experienced a slight hiccough with a horrific outing in Toronto and a mediocre start in Baltimore, but has been victorious in his last two outings, both against the Tigers. Schilling returned to action August 6th against the Halos and has gone six innings in each of his four starts, allowing 11 runs on 25 hits and only 1 walk on his way to two victories in his last two starts including an excellent three-hit performance against the ChiSox.
The Sox head home to Fenway to host the Orioles while the Yankees lay out the welcome mat for the Fish tomorrow, but in the mean time we have afternoon baseball with the rivalry rolling on in the fifteenth of eighteen meetings in the reggalar. Game time is in one hour, lineups are in the extended. Comment away.
George King reports:
The Post has learned Bob Watson entered the Red Sox dugout during last night’s game to talk to Terry Francona about not wearing a uniform jersey while managing. Francona opts for a red pullover, which is sanctioned by MLB properties.
Upon seeing baseball’s top cop, who was ushered into the dugout by an MLB resident security agent, Francona snapped at Watson.
"Get out of the dugout during the game," Francona firmly told Watson, who left.
There’s a long and documented history of former Yankee general manager Watson showing he still bleeds pinstripes — even in his current job. I’m not all about the conspiracy theories, but Watson makes it pretty easy to believe he has some biases he hasn’t quite resolved. Showing up in a dugout during a game at Yankee Stadium to talk about uniform jerseys and pullovers? Get real.
It’s time to end Bob Watson’s tortured tenure as baseball’s inconsistent, combative disciplinarian.
The Yanks have played at top level the past two days, taking a pair of hard-fought, well-pitched games from the Sox’ top starters. Yesterday, Rocket gutted his way through 5 no-hit innings before David Ortiz put a definitive end to his bid with an upper-deck shot. By then the Yanks had a 3-0 lead on Josh Beckett, who was en route to giving up a career-high 13 hits, but showing his mettle by repeatedly striking his way out of trouble, and finding what he needed to keep the Sox in the game. Alex finally chased him with two outs in the seventh, with a line-shot home run to the left-field corner on a curveball falling out of the zone. It was a game outing. The Yanks got a solid inning of relief from the Viz, but Farns was up to his usual tricks, allowing a 2-run shot to Kevin Youkilis, and forcing Mo into a 4-out save. He accomplished this with apparent east, finally getting Dustin Pedroia to end the game on a comebacker, with Papi in the on-deck circle. Phew. Did we mention that Manny was dressed but sat out with a strained oblique? I’m sure that disappointed some of his hometown contingent. But it sure makes things easier. Elsewhere, the M’s lost again at the Angels, so the Yanks are in an essential tie for the WC. Tonight, the M’s play at Cleveland, and tomorrow in Toronto—that’s tough. Another promising matchup for baseball fans today in an afternoon Bronx start: Wang vs. Schilling. Yanks sure could use a sweep.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
This is Josh Beckett’s time.
He’s on the mound in a game that is arguably the Red Sox’ best shot
at easily securing the one win they need to effectively seal a division
title. His boyhood hero opposes him on the Yankee Stadium mound. Want
to seal your place in Red Sox lore? Here’s where you start, kid.
Do what Pedro did in 1999, when he struck out 12 Yankees in the ALCS
while Clemens did what he always seemed to do in the postseason — find
a way to blow it. Pedro didn’t blow it. He outpitched Clemens in Game 7
in 2003, he outpitched him in 1999, the same postseason in which he
came into a key game despite an injury (as opposed to leaving a key
game because of one).
Now it’s Josh Beckett’s turn. This isn’t 1986 Roger Clemens. This
isn’t even 1995 Roger Clemens. This isn’t even close to 1999 Roger
Clemens. This is the most expensive league-average pitcher in baseball
history, a starter who has allowed at least four earned runs in every
start against the Red Sox since May 2003. Never even mind the
three-inning disaster he produced with the season on the line for the
Yanks in Game 7. This Clemens is beatable, decidedly so.
Beckett, on the other hand, is in Clemens’ mold. Fiery. Outspoken.
Texan. Good. Very damn good. No pitcher in baseball has more wins. No
pitcher in baseball has a better combination of strikeouts-, walks- and
home runs-per-9. He was 4 years old when Clemens made his Major League
debut, and he’s the undisputed ace of a Red Sox team that is rolling to
a probable division title. It’s time to show why it was a mistake for
the aging, lumbering veteran to tempt this rivalry again.
Beckett v. Clemens. It’s on.
Yeah, yeah, Joba Chamberlain is impressive, but can he do this?
Funniest part about the dugout flareup in Chicago between A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox and batting coach Greg Walker, with Pierzynski complaining that no one had told him that Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen throws a cutter? "I don’t throw a cutter," Delcarmen said yesterday. … ["]Sometimes my pitch moves a little, but I don’t throw a cutter."
Maybe it’s the gyroball!
Last year at about this time, I ran into one of BP’s Yankee experts at a talk in midtown—a man whose opinion I admire immensely. What did he think of the Yanks’ 2006 draft? Like many sabermetrically inclined pundits, he dismissed the Yankee haul. Another bad draft for the pinstripers. A year later, Yankee scouting director Damon Oppenheimer appears to be vindicated. Joba Chamberlain, the team’s second pick, needs no introduction here. And the top selection, Ian P. Kennedy, will now take Mike Mussina’s place in the rotation, starting Saturday. What roster moves will be made to accomodate this transition are yet to be announced. [Note: rosters expand Saturday, so he only needs to be added to the 40-man.] Kennedy has dominated in the minors this season. In three levels he is 12-3 with a 1.91 era. At AAA Scranton, he has a 1-1 record and 2.08 era over 34.2 innings in which he has allowed 25 hits, walked 11, and struck out 35. He was born on December 19, 1984. Perhaps this move will be read as desperation. He has already thrown 146.1 innings this year. That’s a lot for a young arm. Perhaps he could work on that walk total a bit in the minors. But he does seem ready for the jump, at least according to the numbers. His delivery is kind of quirky; a bit short-armed. We’ll see what he’s got against the Rays. A potential 2008 rotation of Pettitte, Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy—well, it’s certainly intriguing. All home grown, even if Pettitte is a prodigal son, and Wang something of an import. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
In the words John Belushi, "Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough…the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!"
If you are a Yankee fan you hope Mr. Belushi is correct, if you are a Sox fan you can just sit back and enjoy the glory that is 1st place. Buckle your seat belts, this is going to be an interesting three days. Here’s your gamer, enjoy!
Mike Timlin, nearing 1,000 appearances.
Timlin pitched to Carlton Fisk, who was a Rookie of the Year — in 1972. He is teammates with three guys who could be Rookie of the Year in 2007: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who starts tonight, Dustin Pedroia, and fellow reliever Hideki Okajima. He has been on the same side as Pedro Martínez, Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez. He has pitched against them, too. …
"I think the man himself is far more important than his accomplishments on the field," Wakefield said. "A great teammate, a great father, a great husband, a great friend. …"
The Amur Tiger, pictured above at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, pounces from its sunbed to feast. Just off screen are the remnants of the Yankee pitching staff that served as the amuses bouche, entrees, and desserts for panthera tigris altaica. I have been on an exodus from tracking baseball in any great detail due to geography and familial commitments as opposed to any sort of self-imposed sabbatical or general malaise fostered by uninspired Yankee baseball. In fact, I really am looking forward to the series at the Stadium starting tonight, though I will be unable to actually watch games until tomorrow. Obviously, this is redundant material for those of you that would or could not look away from the train wreck of the past two weeks, but I needed to do some catching up before jumping back into the mosh pit.
That’s what the Boston sports media would have us believe, anyway.
Strange, because it wasn’t too long ago when they were essentially saying the same thing — about the Sox’ ability to hold the division lead.
[T]hose who firmly believe the Sox are destined to lose their hold on first place have a case when they point out that the Sox are only 18-16 since July 5, when they peaked with a 12-game lead. – Nick Cafardo, 8/14/07
For a flickering moment, there was a race in the American League East, when the Yankees cut the margin to four games eight days ago. But there is no more. — Nick Cafardo, 8/28/07
Hmm. Funny how things change in just two weeks. Or one.
When you really get down to it, the Sox still have not been tested yet. And so, we still do not know just how tough they are. The 2007 baseball season begins in earnest tonight, Sox followers, and the good news is that the Sox have a 4-game lead in the American League East to go along with the best record in baseball. The bad news is that the Sox are trending downward … — Tony Massarotti, 8/20/2007
Let’s get right to the point: For all intents and purposes, the Red Sox just wrapped up the American League East — Tony Massarotti, 8/27/07
Thus is the problem with the nature of competitive journalism in a market like Boston. With each side racing to be the first to correctly prognosticate the end result, we have a press corps as schizophrenic as Red Sox fans themselves.
As fans, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind about how good the team is based on the most recent results. I’ve swung back and forth myself over the past month. When I took my frustration-induced hiatus, I did indeed expect the Sox to be in second place when I returned. SF has just recently swung back from his conviction that the Sox would blow the division in a month. Now, it looks like we can make plans to be in Boston come October 1. Hey, we’re fans. We experience things much more viscerally and emotionally than, say, reporters should.
Reporters say they only root for a good story. Yet Dan Shaughnessy every year comes out in June and declares the Sox the winners of the AL East. Tony Massarotti spent the last month all but predicting the Sox’ eventual collapse, pointing out flaws in the offense over and over again — until they destroyed Mark Buehrle, Javier Vasquez and the rest of the White Sox in four games. Shouldn’t there be a more calm, collected perspective based on years of reporting and observation about the ebbs and flows of the season? I guess not. In Boston, the reporters are just as manic as the fans.