Deep Breaths

Well we finally made it back from Fenway around 1am last night – the game was an excruciating contest for everyone, even before the eighth inning meltdown.  Slow-working pitchers, poor plate umpiring, sloppy fielding.  The game had it all.  A few thoughts about the affair, as we get ready for today’s stellar pitching matchup:

  • The Red Sox missed a ton of chances to push the lead past five.  That being said, the lead could easily have been much smaller than five as the Yankees blew several chances as well.  So, no complaining from SFs about five run leads going into the eighth inning.  Missed chances go both ways.  The "we should have had more than seven" complaint doesn’t cut it for me.
  • Daisuke gutted it out, he mixed up his pitches far better than in his last couple of starts.  He wasn’t great – it seems like when he misses he misses by a mile, and that doesn’t create enough deception to unsteady the hitters.  But he made pitches when he needed to, and the diverse repertoire made his fastball that much more effective.  It was an encouraging effort (against a relentless, all-world offense), if not a totally reassuring one.
  • Re: that all-world offense.  It’s scary.  Moreso in person than watching on TV for some reason.  I don’t think it quite hits you on the telly since you don’t see the on-deck circle.  But at the game, you are always looking at two guys, not one, the hitter and who’s next.  This has a rather intimidating effect, at least as a fan.  The Bombers are just that, Bombers.  Very impressive.
  • The stadium didn’t lose energy (I did, though!) after the six-run outburst. It was actually kind of refreshing: most of the crowd stuck it out to the very end and was pretty darn boisterous.  The stereotype of the beleaguered, energy-less, gut-punched fan didn’t apply on the whole: the crowd stuck by their team.  In fact, it was a YF (who shall remain nameless!) that gave the "this game is over, wanna take a walk around the stadium?" line as the eighth began.  So much for stereotypes.
  • JD Drew was treated poorly, despite having a very nice game at the plate.  I am going to continue to stick by him and predict that he has a good chance to make noise in the postseason.  Jason Varitek, who gets a free pass from his travails for obvious reasons, looks to be a far worse option at the plate right now, his bat visibly slow in person.  He’s an offensive liability, majorly so.  I dread him coming to the plate.
  • The Sox could really use Manny (duh).  The bench isn’t deep enough to take this kind of hit for any duration.  When there is no better option than Bobby Kielty from his bad side in the ninth inning of a one-run game with a man on against your arch-rival that’s pretty bad news. If Manny’s not around in a couple of weeks and at least 85/90%, the Sox are dead meat.  His absence is glaring.  That said, the Sox had Andy Pettitte (who was plodding and utterly hittable) and the Yankees dead to rights without their HoF left-fielder, so that has to be worth something.
  • Hideki Okajima looked done from the moment he came in.  I remarked to YF after his first or second pitch (having watched him up close through a set of binoculars) that he looked strained, his body english was terrible, and his face grimaced between every pitch like he was in dire need of a laxative.  YF was able to call almost every single pitch of Oki’s without seeing what hit the plate, and is pretty sure he’s tipping due to a change in motion from fastball to curve or change.  He might be right.
  • Re: Oki – he never should have started the eighth.  We questioned this at the game when he re-emerged from the dugout.  He did his job in the seventh, he sat on the bench and got cool, he’s most definitely overworked based on his personal history, and Gagne, MDC, and Paps (and Buck, even) were all still available.  If Tito isn’t going to trust Gagne (who, despite the Damon hit, looked fantastic live) with a five run lead in the eighth with a 5.5 game division cushion then when is he going to trust him?  At the very least Tito should have had a couple of guys up and warming when the inning started.  The homers from Giambi and Cano weren’t scrape jobs — Cano’s in particular was a monstrous shot, and that should have been it for Hideki, had someone been ready – Papelbon was up too late, he didn’t warm for all that long.  This was the key to the game, at least tactically: Tito was fatally unprepared for Okajima’s struggles.

So today we go back for more. It’s going to be cooler, maybe a little gray at first pitch, which sounds right based on last night’s affair.  But the forecast calls for sun by the middle of the game, and we’ve got our ace on the mound.  And a four game loss-column lead. Let the weather be a metaphor for today’s action.  Go Sox!

39 comments… add one
  • i started to pass out at my computer last night. i waved the white flag and went to bed as the 8th was getting underway.
    impressive that they got to okajima and papelbon.
    here’s to the hope that momentum exists.
    i need to peek at the highlights.
    must have been a great night at fenway.

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 15, 2007, 9:10 am
  • “must have been a great night at fenway.”
    Hmm. Five hour game. Errors. Tons of LOB all around. Blown five run lead with six outs to go. I guess it all depends on your perspective.
    The sausages were good, at least!

    SF September 15, 2007, 9:28 am
  • Nice rational for Pap’s performance. I also agree that there was no reason to bring Oki in with a 5 run lead. Maybe not Gagne, but with 5 runs at your disposal I think another should have been given a shot first.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 9:29 am
  • The Yankees are looking like a very dangerous team in the playoffs–maybe the prohibitive AL pennant favorite.
    Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees have had the best record in baseball, with the Red Sox second.
    Their offense is “Murderer’s Row and Cano” 2.0

    SoxFan September 15, 2007, 9:30 am
  • The SOX scored 7 runs against arguably the best Yank pitcher, without Manny. They ain’t chopped liver.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 9:36 am
  • @BostonRAW: Yeah, they scored seven runs off of a bunch of errors. Giambi cost us 3 runs and so did Jeter’s over throw.
    With that said, I too went to sleep. Wasn’t feeling well and felt that if the Yankees were going to play like a Double A team, they don’t deserve to have me watch it. I did dream that we came back to win it, but never did I actually believe it until I phoned in for the score and heard “The Yankees edge the Red Sox, 8 to 7.” Of course, I had to turn on the SportsCenter to confirm it then turn on the computer to read the buildup. The surprise and glee from the Yankees fans and of course the surprise and agony of the Red Sox fans.
    With that being said, today is the game I want the most. Beckett is a fucking asshole. Here’s hoping that he explodes and the Yankees win behind Wang.

    snowballa September 15, 2007, 9:54 am
  • That may be the case but even so, it’s a dynamic that will not change because the Yanks are a poor defensive team. Expecting Oki and Pap’s to implode again as they did is unrealstic. Expecting the Yanks to perform poorly in the field is not.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 10:07 am
  • Clownboy, your use of the word “anomaly” spurred my curiousity so I looked it up. Here’s what I found:
    a-nom-a-ly. n. pl. -lies: 1. Winning one champiohship over the course of 87 years; 2. a rational argument made in an articulate manner by any one of the race of clownmen.
    To be sure I had it right, I looked up the antonym. Here is what I found:
    1. The latest installment in a long history of come from behind victories for one team over another.
    Standard disclaimer for regular SFs around here: This message intended for clownboy only. I have respect for the regulars and certainly for the RS team as much as I dislike them, but clownboy deserves it.
    P.S. clownboy, you asked “what crow” you should be eating. I refer you to last night’s thread – the 11:55 pm post. After all, we wouldn’t want you to miss a meal.

    IronHorse (yf) September 15, 2007, 10:16 am
  • @BostonRAW: I don’t believe that the Yanks have had many poorly played defensive games in the second half. I do know one thing, if I see Giambi at first base again, I might have to have a talk with Torre. I don’t know if Oki imploding again is that unrealistic. It’s not like this is his first time giving up a couple of hits especially of late.

    snowballa September 15, 2007, 10:17 am
  • And I love that title “Murderers Row and Cano.”

    snowballa September 15, 2007, 10:18 am
  • I was pissed when Oki came back out for the 8th, with a 5-run lead. Isn’t this the guy who has been overused? Doesn’t Tito know this? What the hell?

    Atheose September 15, 2007, 10:20 am
  • Yanks are 2nd in FPCT
    3rd fewest errors
    30 more DPs than the Sox
    I believe, Mr. RAW, that you are reaching.
    http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable_team_stats.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=AL&statType=3&sitSplit=&timeSubFrame=2007&groupByTeam=true&Submit=Submit&timeFrame=1

    J-YF September 15, 2007, 10:23 am
  • The Yankees have the third-best fielding percentage in the league. And they are a ‘poor defensive team.’ Right. And, Andy Pettitte is not the teams’ best starter.
    You can look for positives and ignore the negatives all you want, but the fact remains that while Matsuzaka was good, he was worse than his numbers suggested, and Okajima looks completely gassed. I don’t know if Eric Gagne is really going to cut it as the Sox’s new setup man. Right now they don’t really have one.

    AndrewYF September 15, 2007, 10:26 am
  • Can you guys disengage from RAW? He’s an anomaly at this site and doesn’t share most of our views, or our attitude and sense of decorum. His viewpoint is valid, if wrongheaded, but we hate the debate to be dominated by several in the right shouting down one, anomalous fan in the wrong.

    SF September 15, 2007, 10:28 am
  • IH, your comments are why so many people despise Yank fans. The fact that of the two teams the SOX are the last WC, and they won that at the expense of your Yanks, in a series many consider the biggest choke job in the history of major league sports, and that your team’s last WC came 8 years ago, even though they maintain the highest payroll in MLB – easy, is the present deal, not whatever championships they won back in the 50’s.
    Get with the present, son.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 10:31 am
  • Snowbella, you don’t really consider the defensive abilities of both the Yanks IF and OF ‘good’, now do you?
    Come on, besides Posada, who is quite good, I can’t think of a single Yank fielder who is better than average. Melky is close but he takes far too many poor approaches to the ball.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 10:35 am
  • I have great respect for SF and the Sox, so I will disregard RAW’s non-sensical posts from hereon.

    J-YF September 15, 2007, 10:36 am
  • I seriously don’t think RAW even watches the games.

    AndrewYF September 15, 2007, 10:37 am
  • Well, it’s nice to win in dramatic fashion, but it was a pretty ugly game all around. Both starters looked pretty bad, to me at least. Giambi was awful at first – it’s not an exaggeration to say he cost the Yanks 3 runs last night. Tito took a page out of Torre’s book by panicking and mismanaging the ‘pen. And my god, as exciting as the Yanks-Sox games can be, the sheer plodding pace and length of the contests makes them almost unwatchable at times.
    Hopefully today will be a crisper affair with the two 18-7 aces on the mound.

    Mark (YF) September 15, 2007, 10:39 am
  • I believe they only have 6 losses each, no? But if Wang wins today, he will have matched his record of last year, but with better stats!! Is Beckett close to ’06 Santana stats?
    I’ve got to get off the computer!

    J-YF September 15, 2007, 10:52 am
  • I seriously don’t think RAW even watches the games
    I have thought the same about many who post here. JD sucks, Wang is better than Beckett, Dice is tired, Oki the same, Gagne is a terrible pitcher. And now; the Yanks are a superior defensive team.
    Given those examples, either I am one of the few who actually do watch the games or there is far too much pessimism around here regarding the SOX, the best team in MLB.
    Pessimism begets doubt, and doubt begets an interpretation of gameday performance that belies truth.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 10:58 am
  • That was one of the greatest regular season games I have ever watched. Unbelievable comeback…I rode the rollercoaster of emotion the whole game. I just don’t think we fear the Sox bullpen anymore than they fear Mo? Looking forward to another battle this afternoon…LET’S GO YANKEES!!!
    “Best team in baseball” will be decided in playoffs…

    krueg September 15, 2007, 11:11 am
  • On a different thought, yesterday’s Giambi homerun reminds me of the 2 he hit in the 2003 ALCS Game 7. Both looked useless at the time, but boy did they help. Of course, Giambi didn’t have a ton of errors in that game oh and that game got us in the World Series.
    @BostonRAW: No, I don’t think that the Yankees are this great defensive team, but you made it sound like it’s more likely that we would have a horrible game in the field than Okajima bombing at the plate, especially since he hasn’t been pitching well lately.
    Oh, and Jeter needs to sit after this series. Thoughts?

    snowballa September 15, 2007, 11:12 am
  • For whatever reason, Oki left two fastballs high over the plate to Giambi and Cano. Some believe that occurs when a pitcher is tired, but Oki cannot be tired for if he was he would be rested by a management team who certainly knows more about the players than we do.
    I think he was tense and he choked. That happens a lot to RS players when they face the Yanks, for whatever reason.
    Also; Jeter’s errors were not expected but Giambi’s were. If Torre starts Giambi again the same performance is likely to happen.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 11:24 am
  • Keep it civil fellas. After my giddiness of last night has worn off; I’ve realized how lucky the Yanks were to pull that off. This Boston team is still extremely dangerous and they don’t even have Manny back yet. Today is a must win if the Yanks want to take the series because I suspect Roger is going to get hit hard on Sunday. All this stuff with his elbow doesn’t pass the smell test with me. I guess we’ll see.

    bloodyank78 September 15, 2007, 11:24 am
  • My guess is Clemens is not going tomorrow, regardless of what is being reported. At best, doing so should be considered rushing him back.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 11:33 am
  • I just got this thought. What if the ALDS doesn’t feature the Yanks or Red Sox? The Indians and Angels are so largely ignored, but they are both playing very good baseball and could very well beat the two behemoths from the East in a short series.
    Listening to WFAN and the host (forgot his name) pondered what if there’s a Colorado Rockies/Cleveland Indians world series. I swear, I just shuddered.

    snowballa September 15, 2007, 11:42 am
  • Hey, I just realized, i’ve been a jerk. Of course Melky’ a good fielder. So are A-Rod, Abreu, Cano …

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 11:48 am
  • Since I would never think, say, or imply Arod, Cano and Abreu are good fielders, someone must be spamming my identity.
    Which is odd because I thought the ‘blog management’ here did not support that kind of thing. I guess there are different rules for Yank fans….

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 11:54 am
  • BostonRaw, the person who posted as you is NOT a regular. But yes you are right, nobody here supports that type of behavior.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 15, 2007, 12:01 pm
  • Good
    John, all I have done since I found this blog is act as a counterbalance to all the SF negativity so pervasive here. Nothing wrong with that, although if you want me to tone it down I will try.
    It may prove difficult, i.e. Becket blows, Gagne sucks, Dice is cooked, etc., ad nauseum, but I will try.

    BostonRAW September 15, 2007, 12:08 pm
  • BR, You would need to bring that up with SF and YF, that’s their call.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 15, 2007, 12:10 pm
  • >>>On a different thought, yesterday’s Giambi homerun reminds me of the 2 he hit in the 2003 ALCS Game 7.
    You mean the two he hit while he was, by his own admission, juicing?
    [ducking]

    Hudson September 15, 2007, 12:19 pm
  • I continue to think that the Sox’s underuse of Buchholz (whose name I still am not 100% confident trying to spell) is a mistake.
    And I hope that Josh Beckett comes into Fenway today seriously p!ssed and on a mission.

    Hudson September 15, 2007, 12:21 pm
  • “Yanks are a superior defensive team.”
    I never said the Yanks were superior defensively to the Sox. Look at the stats, and the fielding, and it’s obvious the Sox are superior to the Yanks in that regard.
    But to say that the Yankees are a BAD defensive team is pretty stupid. Cano, A-Rod and Melky are all at least above average defensively, with Cano being just behind Mark Ellis for best defensive 2b-man in the league. Jeter is obviously horrendous, and so is Giambi at first. But Damon is actually quite good in LF, and Abreu is good in RF when he’s not near the wall. Melky’s arm is OUTSTANDING (he threw a strike to home plate from CENTER FIELD), and Abreu’s arm is still very good. Posada’s defense has crumbled compared to last season. Last season he was second only to I-Rod in terms of throwing out batters, I do not know what happened there.
    The Yankees, on a whole, are an above-average defensive team, led by Melky’s good range and outstanding arm, and Cano’s excellent fielding. And A-Rod isn’t too bad himself.

    AndrewYF September 15, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • “the fact remains that while Matsuzaka was good, he was worse than his numbers suggested”
    I disagree, Andrew. His pitch count in the first inning was inflated by a cheesy hit by JD and an error, and he didn’t have a great feel for his curve ball in the 1st and 2nd, but I thought his start was very positive. He showed great pitch variation, hit his spots in tough situations, and only had three hard hit balls on him all night (two of which were by the “musclely manly man” er whatever the hell Sutcliff was talking about).
    Certainly he was leaps and bounds better than he’s been over the past few weeks. He calmed my playoff nerves considerably.

    Tyrel SF September 15, 2007, 12:33 pm
  • @Braw: DOUCHE CHILL.
    @snowballa: If the Yankees ever see the Indians in the postseason, I’ll look forward to that. They own them at Jacobs Field. Pretty much everyone in the lineup has huge numbers at the Jake.

    doug YF September 15, 2007, 12:34 pm
  • The gamer is up. Lineups will be up as soon as they are available.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 15, 2007, 1:05 pm
  • Brutal mismanagement by Francona in that game. No need after Sept. 1 to have Okajima starting the eighth inning after getting out of the jam — particularly, as SF noted, with no one warming, considering his recent performances, both against the Yankees and in general.
    Generally,when my mind wanders, it’ll turn to baseball and give my mood a boost, usually even after Sox losses. I’m an optimist that way. But today I’ve been pretty grouchy. Even during the game, heading into the eighth, I knew I was way too confident in the Sox’ chances. I thought to myself, “Better watch it. This could be one of those games that teaches you a lesson about it not being over ’til it’s over.” Sure enough…
    Today went from being completely pressure-free to pretty close to a must-win for the Sox. That sucks.

    Paul SF September 15, 2007, 3:50 pm

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