Friday, May 12, 2006

4 down, 19 to go

So, the Red Sox and Yankees have met for the first two of their six head-to-head series on the year. 4 games down, 15 to go. Because of the rain-out last week, 5 of those 15 will take place in one weekend series in Boston in August.

There were some things that jumped out at me from Tuesday's game, but I never got to writing them. Then I decided to do one wrap-up post for the series. This is it.

First, comments from Tuesday night (Boston 14, NY 3):
  • The Red Sox won big, 14-3. It didn't start well, as Beckett gave up a 2-run homerun to Giambi in the first, but that was really the end of the good news from a Yankee perspective. The Red Sox scored early, they scored often. They had a lot of help from the Yankees, as a Rodriguez error allowed the first run to score, and kept the 3rd inning alive.

  • But any focus on Rodriguez (and there's been a lot of it, particularly from Yankee fans who think that Jeter's "Captain Clutch") is missing the story of that game. Yes, Rodriguez booted a ball at 3rd (the second error he was given in that game should not of been, as that ball exploded at his feet and took an awful bounce - no one would have made that play.) But the story of Tuesday was Randy Johnson. The reason that Ortiz was up in the 3rd inning was that Johnson had allowed a base hit to Dustan Mohr, and after getting up 0-2 on Alex Gonzalez, he walked him. Then, after Ortiz reached on an error, the 2nd run scored on a wild pitch. In the 4th inning, he again allowed Dustan Mohr (walk) and Alex Gonzalez (single) to reach base back-to-back. Randy Johnson didn't get out of the 4th inning on Tuesday night, and wouldn't have won that game, regardless of defensive support. It wasn't Alex Rodriguez' fault that they lost.

    I don't know if Johnson's done - I think that it's too early, and there's not enough evidence, to make that case. I do know this - if I were a Yankee fan, I'd be very concerned about what I've seen from Randy Johnson so far this year. If he pitches like a middle-of-the-rotation starter, they're not a great team. I predicted them to make the play-offs this year but if what we saw on Tuesday is something we see regularly, I don't think that they will.

  • I don't understand why there hasn't been more talk about Bernie Williams throwing his helmet at the home plate umpire following his 7th inning strikeout. Yes, it wasn't a bat. Yes, it didn't hit the umpire in the chest. No, Bernie doesn't have the reputation that Delmon Young has. He still threw a piece of equipment at the umpire. Completely unacceptable. He wasn't flipping it away - he looked and threw, backwards, true, and it was at the ump. He's got to be suspended. And I haven't seen or heard a word about it.

  • It was just one game. It's very easy to envision, following a 14-3 win, a series in which Boston goes into NY and loses 2 of 3 while outscoring the Yankees by 7...

Wednesday (NY 7, Boston 3):

Curt Schilling's off to a good start for the team. He looks to be back to where he was 2 years ago. Curt's an interesting guy and a good pitcher. That said, he's also a loudmouth. Sometimes, that's not a problem. But you can't go on the radio Tuesday morning and complain about the New York media, and then fail to hold a 3-0 lead on Wedneday night. They had the Yankee's best pitcher, Mike Mussina, on the ropes, and they failed to either get him out of the game (he'd thrown 92 pitches through 5 innings - the four batters in the 6th saw 1, 1, 2 and 2, for a total of 6) or build on the lead. And their ace failed to hold it. He gave up 3 HR, 6 runs in 6 innings. Not good enough.

Thursday (Boston 5, NY 3):

  • For the 3rd time in the 3-game series, one of the teams takes a 2-0 lead in the first. For the 3rd time in the 3-game series, it's a harbinger of doom, as the team with the early 2-0 lead loses all 3 games.

  • Hidecki Matsui's consecutive games played streak comes to an end in an official game in which he played. According to ML rules, a streak continues if the player has an official plate appearance, or completes a half-inning in the field. That seems sort of arbitrary, but there it is. It is, of course, of no actual significance in this case, as even if the streak had continued yesterday, it would end today. Matsui's undergoing wrist surgery, he's gone for at least 10 weeks, and done for the season is not out of the question. That leaves the Yankees without either of their starting corner outfielders. Sheffield should be back fairly soon, but it's not a good situation for a team without a bench, and no position players in the high minors. Fortunately for them, the pockets are still deep, so they can go buy a Jay Payton or Bobby Abreu or Torii Hunter.

  • Red Sox fans who've complained about the Arroyo for Pena trade (and you know who you are) should be thrilled that Pena's in Boston instead of New York. Just like last year, when the Yankees could have used Jay Payton to fill their black hole in CF, the Red Sox have added the kind of depth that Yankee fans are wishing they had.

  • The Red Sox sure got their share of luck last night, too, but the good basically offset the good. Alex Gonzalez' fly ball to right fell for a double when Bernie misplayed it, but Mark Loretta's ball down the third base line with the bases loaded looked like a hit, and was called a foul. Mike Lowell and Doug Mirabelli each fell a couple of inches short of extra bases. Shawn Chacon allowed 10 baserunners (5 hits, 5 walks) in 4 2/3 innings, and only 2 runs.

  • Jeter should have been charged an error on the play that allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score. A decent throw gets Loretta at first. That wasn't a decent throw. If that had been ARod, Yankee fans would have gone nuts again about the "choking." And the announcers decided, right off the bat, that Loretta knocked the ball out of Cairo's glove. I don't know what they were looking at - it didn't look to me like the ball was IN Cairo's glove when Loretta arrived.

  • It was interesting to watch Torre go left-right with four pitchers in the 6th, emptying his bullpen save for Farnsworth and Rivera. He was clearly playing for a rain-shortened game, and it almost worked anyway. They did get out of the 6th. It was the 7th when the Red Sox finally broke through.

For all the panic in Yankee nation this morning, and there's lots of it, they're one back in the division on May 12, and 1 game back in the Wild Card race. They've still got an excellent lineup, some good pitching, a great closer, and deep pockets. I'd be concerned about Johnson, for sure. I'd be concerned about the outfield. But I don't think that it's time to panic....



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