Saturday, April 21, 2007

And Round 1 Goes to Boston BY TKO!

Great comeback by the Sox today. Schilling didn't have his best stuff, but battled and was able to almost get by. Unfortunately the amazingly hot Alex Rodriguez was able to hit two homers and a double, single-handedly putting NY up 6-2. A-Rod's first homer was just launched, but his second one, while hit very well, was almost caught by a sprinting Coco Crisp at the wall in right center field. Just as Crisp reached up to grab the ball, he hit the wall and went tumbling into the bullpen, falling on his back. Just another few inches and he would have had it. So close, good try Covelli!

I'm not sure of the rule on that one (in a post-game interview, A-Rod said he wasn't either). If Crisp catches that ball and falls over the outfield fence is it a homer or an out? I'm going to guess its a homer, but I'm not sure.

In any case, Crisp didn't catch it and suddenly the score was yankees 6, Boston 2. Well, actually at that point the yankees had five runs, but they added another in the top of the 8th inning.

In the bottom of the eighth the Red Sox made their move. They got a double from Ortiz to start off, followed by a walk to Manny, a ground out from Drew to advance the runners, a single from Lowell, a single from Varitek (facing Rivera at this point), a triple from Crisp to tie the score, and then a single from Cora to bring in Crisp with the lead run. 7-6, Boston, and the lead held up in the ninth with the excellent work of Hideki Okajima, who has been quite impressive so far. I suspect he's not really this good and the league will start to catch up to him after seeing him a bit, but give the guy some credit, he's looked filthy so far.

Once again, I think Terry Francona managed circles around Joe Torre. For a guy who will probably go into the Hall of Fame as a manager, Torre makes some horrendous in-game decisions. For instance and probably most importantly, pinch running for Jason HGHiambi with a four run lead in the top of the eighth. That came back to bite him in the ninth when HGHiambi's slot came back around at the end of the game and Kevin Thompson who pinch ran for HGHiambi struck out to end the game with the tying run on first. Come to think of it, why was Thompson even hitting in the ninth? Don't the yankees have anyone on the bench? Anyone at all? Hello...?

I applaud Francona for not using Papelbon, even though the situation called for him to come in. He'd thrown a ton of pitches over the past two games, both of which the Red Sox won at least in part because Papelbon was used correctly both times. Its the yankees, but its also April and you don't want to blow your closer's arm out until at least July.

I find it interesting that, while Ortiz and Manny both had a hand in the rally in the eighth inning, it was Varitek, Crisp, and Cora who won the game for Boston. Cora especially came through for the second night in a row after turning an amazing double play and then tripling home the tying run against Toronto last night.

Varitek finished with 3 hits in 4 at-bats, and all were well struck balls. Great news for Sox fans who were getting a mite bit antsy about Tek's struggles at the plate so far this young season.

Conversely, the yankees catcher, Jorge Posada who I think should be considered for the Hall of Fame when his career ends (and it can't end soon enough for me), hurt his finger sometime in the middle of the game and was removed from the game. X-rays were negative, so there is no break, but the LoHud yankees blog has Posada saying that he'll miss "a couple of days."

I don't ever wish for injuries to opponents, but this is definitely a huge advantage for the Sox now that it looks like Posada will miss the rest of this series. The yankee backup catcher is Wil Nieves, who is a fine catcher and judging on his performance tonight, has a good arm (right, J.D.?), but the guy can not hit. Can. Not. Hit.

Without Posada, the back end of the yankee lineup looks like this:

7. Melky Cabrera (who was good last year, but has looked awful this year; current average: .207
8. Doug Mientkiewicz (who's name I just copied and pasted)
9. Wil Nieves

Compare that with the back end of the Sox lineup:

7. Varitek
8. Crisp
9. Pedroia

OK, probably not the greatest 7-9 hitters ever assembled, but for a game or series, I'd take the Boston three over the NY three.

The Red Sox have now won three in a row, and have come from behind in the eighth and ninth innings to beat Roy Halladay and Andy Pettitte. Not bad.

The Sox are all alone in first place in the AL East at the moment. They've got a two game lead on NY, 2.5 on Toronto, and 1.5 on Baltimore. Does it even matter where Tampa is? Well, fine, they're in last, four and a half out.

There was a point in the middle of the game where the camera caught Torre in the dugout doing what looked like sleeping. I'm sure he was conscious (he must have been... right?!), but he had his head in his hands and despite the shot staying on him for multiple seconds, he never moved once. There is a scene in Michael Lewis' fabulous book Moneyball in which Lewis recounts A's GM Billy Beane's insisting that his manager at the time, Art Howe, stand on the step of the dugout, like Washington crossing the Delaware, with his knee up and his chin propped on his fist. Beane said it gave Howe a distinguished look and made him appear more like a leader. Torre might want to consider that the next time he decides to take a cat nap.

The yankees are throwing a couple quasi-rookies at the Sox today (Saturday) and then Sunday night. The Sox will have a big advantage in the starting pitching department for the rest of the series now with Beckett and Matsuzaka scheduled to go. Still, no guarantee of a Boston victory though. Beware the reverse lock!

Today: Jeff Karstens vs. Josh Beckett, 3:55pm

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