Thursday, April 14, 2005

Red Sox vs. Yankees - another barn-burner

Since May 18, 2003, a span of less than 2 calendar years, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have played 58 times. They've played 44 regular season games with the Red Sox leading 23-21. They've split 14 post-season games, with the Yankees winning a 7-game ALCS in 2003 and the Red Sox winning a 7-game ALCS in 2004.

Red Sox vs. Yankees since May 18, 2003


New York2123226246


New York777570


New York2830301316

There's a certain drama inherent in Yankee/Red Sox match-ups. But these two teams always seem to raise it a couple of notches. No lead is ever safe. And it's never easy. In the play-offs 2 years ago, we had the Pedro Martinez/Don Zimmer altercation and the brawl in the bullpens in Fenway. Last July, we had Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez instigating a benches-clearing brawl, in a game that the Red Sox eventually won on a walk-off home run against Mariano Rivera. In the play-offs last year, we had the riot squads on the field in New York. And tonight, we had Red Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson and Manager Terry Francona ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson (who had an awful night), and Gary Sheffield tangling with a fan in the right field stands. And when the dust had all cleared, the Yankees had taken 2 of 3 in New York, and the Red Sox had taken 2 of 3 in Boston.

  • The initial reaction to the altercation in right from the NESN broadcasters was that the fan had taken a swing at Sheffield. The AP was even worse:
    Sheffield was fielding Jason Varitek's two-run triple along the right-field fence in the eighth inning of Boston's 8-5 victory Thursday night when a fan swung a short uppercut in his direction, appearing to graze the side of the slugger's face with his right arm.

    I'm sorry - I don't see it. I've watched the replays several times, and I don't think that there's anything that looks remotely like an intentional swing at Sheffield. It may have been, but it sure doesn't look like it. It looks like he was leaning over to watch the play and lost his balance. Sheffield came very close to costing himself some games, but he stopped in time, and I don't think a suspension is warranted.

  • Edgar Renteria had a big night, with a two-run homer and a double to drive in the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run in the 8th.

  • Jason Varitek had a big night, with a mammoth home run to tie it up after the Yankees had taken a 5-4 lead, and a 2-run triple to pad the lead in the 8th.

  • Randy Johnson was the big reason that the Yankees are now supposed to have a better rotation than the Red Sox. Through 3 starts, he's 1-0 with 2 no decisions, one very good start and two very mediocre ones. (He could easily be 1-2, but for a lot of offensive support pulling him even after allowing the opponents big leads.) Through 3 starts, he averaging 6 1/3 IP with an ERA of 4.74. That's not what they're paying him for. And frankly, it's not good enough for what they need. If his numbers at the end of the year look anything like they look now, there's an excellent chance that the Yankees will not only not win the AL East, they won't win the Wild Card, either.

  • Manny Ramirez is now homerless in his first 9 games, the longest homerless streak to start a season in his career.

  • Did I mention that Greg Gibson had a terrible night behind the plate? Just in case I didn't, let me say this - Greg Gibson had a terrible night behind the plate. The Yankees scored 4 runs in the 4th after Sheffield walked on strike 3 with 2 outs. Yes, he was bad both ways, but that had disproportionate impact on Arroyo, who's not a swing-and-miss pitcher, as opposed to Johnson, who is.

  • Of course, the worst umpiring call happened at first base on the first play of the game, when Renteria made a great stop on a ball into the hole by Tony Womack, but threw wide to first only to have the umpire completely miss the fact that there was no tag and call Womack out.

  • And now the teams are done with each other until May 27. They're tied at 4-5 each, 3 games behind the hot-starting Toronto Blue Jays. I would bet that they'll be first and second in the AL East when they meet again in May...



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