Saturday, May 28, 2005

« Report: Just another Yankees-Sox game »

By Suss
Thanks to Babe Ruth, Boston and New York just plain hate each other. And maybe the players don't hate each other, but the fans sure do. The two entities are like the antithesis of the most legandary love in the history of the world, whatever that romance may be.

While it's been the most illustrious pro sports rivalry to date, it's been so lopsided for so long until last year, and only this year do both teams have something to brag about. Now when Boston enters Yankee Stadium and see the 26 World Series banners, the Sox can say they've done that before too. Only 25 more to go.

Friday night featured these two battling at it yet again in the Bronx. The matchup is power vs. finesse -- the flamethrowing Randy Johnson vs. the knuckleballing Tim Wakefield. One pitcher keeps you on your toes, the other lulls you to sleep.

Top 1: Robinson Cano, some guy I never heard of, bobbles the ball at second, and Johnny Damon is safe. Then Damon steals second because Cano can't apply the tag in time. Something tells me this guy's gonna make a few more errors in the rest of the game, or he might become an instant Luis Sojo sensation and get the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth or something. But even after Johnson walked two to load the bases, he still got out of the inning. I gotta keep my eye on Cano.

Bottom 3: Cano's first at bat was a roller to second base. Bellhorn bobbled the ball, recovered then threw wide letting him reach on an error as well. What goes around...

Top 4: Johnson gave up his fourth walk and also finally recorded his first strikeout. He's throwing fast, he's just not locating. He's falling behind and when a pitcher does that, they can't make batter chase pitches, something he does very well (especially with that crazy slider).

Top 5: With one on and two out, Johnson chucked a 2-2 splitter to Boston's captain, catcher Jason Varitek. The splitter was low, but not low enough for Varitek, who smacked it over the left field wall, putting Boston up 2-0. For a while this was shaping up to be one of the ugliest 0-0 games in that both pitchers kept allowing baserunners, not because of Johnson's face. Varitek showed why he's the captain.

Boston 2, New York 0

Bottom 5: And Derek Jeter showed why he's the Yankees' cap'n. Leading off the half-inning, he reached for a triple and later scored on a Tony Womack groundout.

Boston 2, New York 1

Top 6: Womack missed catching a tailing line drive by inches, and Jay Payton wound up with a double. The commentators are saying Womack is trying to learn left field, but if Womack is a great second baseman, and if the 22-year old Cano makes an error in the first inning at second base, then maybe Cano should instead learn left field and keep the Womack wizardry in the infield. And after a Mark Bellhorn single to center, Damon singles to right and drives in Payton.

Womack redeemed himself as Edgar Renteria singled to left. Womack was playing shallow and Bellhorn was waved in at home. But Womack came up firing and Bellhorn was out at home by several strides. Oops on the third base coach. You've got a two run lead and would have the bases loaded with one out and David Ortiz stepping to the plate. Why play aggressive?

Then Ortiz hits a ball to second that Cano can't handle (go figure). But after the ball dribbles by a little, Cano recovers and throws out Damon trying to swipe home in the middle of the play. Two batters thrown out a home in one inning. Yeesh.

The Unit's hanging on, but he's down by two and has six walks with only three strikeouts and already threw 104 pitches. He can't last much longer.

Boston 3, New York 1

Bottom 6: I guess Cano is Sojo after all. He just hit a 2-run homer off Wakefield. He also drove in his childhood idol Bernie Williams, and got a high-five from him after the homer. Thrillin'.

That knocked Wakefield out of the game and the left-hander Alan Embree comes in the game.

And after Jeter and Womack reached base, the right-handed batter Gary Sheffield stepped up to the plate, waving that bat back and forth like it was Dikembe Mutombo's finger. And with the lefty on the mound, I visualized a future homer after Embree's first pitch went down the heart of the plate. That was scary, because I was right -- Sheffield took the next pitch to the upper deck behind left field. Score three more for the Yanks.

New York 6, Boston 3

Top 7: Johnson didn't even come back, judging from the looks of Tanyon Sturtze on the mound. After all the BB's and few K's, he only gave up 3 runs in 6 innings of work. Technically it falls under the stat "quality start." Maybe I should reconsider my investment in that stat...

Top 8: Nothing of note has happened since the sixth, so off comes the Internet connection and I relocate to the family room with the better TV.

(ESPN just broke a story saying that Mark Prior, who was hit in the pitching elbow by a line drive earlier in the day, underwent an MRI and it revealed he has a slight fracture in his elbow. That really hurts for the Cubs. X-rays were negative, which was good news, but who knows just how long the cursed Cubs will be without their young star.)

Tom Gordon just struck out Edgar Renteria for the final out. Since it's a save situation, the Sox will have to go through Mariano Rivera just to tie this thing up.

Top 9: I guess Rivera's not coming into the game. Gordon, who only pitched 1/3 of the eighth, will stay in for the save.

Now I guess Gordon's not getting the save. After getting one out, Rivera comes out from the bullpen. "Enter Sandman" theme song ensues.

Final score: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3

Don't look now, but New York is on a roll and Boston is in fourth place. That's right, Toronto is ahead of them. Toronto.

The series should be fun to watch and will test the limits of the injured Red Sox pitching staff.

I'm so glad I watched Cano.