The Yankees and Red Sox start their 2011 season rivalry with a bang, but before we get into that, it’s impossible to talk about yesterday’s game without mentioning the fact that the game started at 2 PM. On a Friday.
I point this out because it’s very unusual. I do understand that this was the Red Sox home opener, and home openers are always during the day, but you’ve got to assume that the Red Sox front office must have been angry that not only did their home opener got schedule against the Yankees, but on a Friday. From a business perspective, this is totally infuriating for the Red Sox because a home opener is a guaranteed sell out for an awful team – I bet the Kansas City Royals sell out their home opener every year – and Yankees vs Red Sox games are a sell out anyway, so wasting one of these competitions on a home opener really stings, and then to schedule it on a Friday just ads insult to injury, because this is a day when people are more likely to head to the ballpark in the first place, which is why home openers are usually on a Wednesday or other day in the middle of the week – so the team can incise fans to their stadium on a day when they wouldn’t ordinarily go, not to mention the fact that it’s a Yankees vs Red Sox game, the most heated rivalry in the history professional sports, and some of us who are gainfully employed might actually want to watch this game! What were they thinking?!? So, to whoever did the schedule for MLB this year, YOU SUCK!
Sorry for the rant-styled run on sentence. I must have been thinking about Dennis Miller’s old show on HBO or something.
Let’s move on to the game:
Phil Hughes didn’t rebound from his first start – in fact, he was much worse. There’s not much to say; when you give up 6 runs in 2 IP, your team isn’t going to win the game. Sometimes, a particular player will be singled out as to why a team lost a game and receive unfair criticism for a loss, but this time, Phil Hughes isn’t a scape goat – he’s the goat.
The Red Sox and their fans know what I’m talking about. John Lackey was awful again, and if you take a look at their April Schedule, most of their losses have been due to awful pitching. The Yankees slapped Lackey around like one of those inflatable punching bags you had in your room as a kid – it didn’t get a lot of abuse, but every time you walked passed the thing, you’d give it a punch. Thankfully, Bartolo Colon came into the game and restored some order by throwing the first scoreless half inning of the game. Colon got right to work and struck out the first two batters he faced (J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and then put Jacoby Ellsbury down via contact. All and all, Colon was pretty good and the Yankees have to be wondering maybe they want to invent an injury for Hughes, let him work out his troubles at Scranton and find out exactly what Colon has right now while it’s still early.
At some point, I’m going to have to write something significant in praise of Brett Gardner. How does a guy with no power walk so much? I don’t get why opposing pitchers are so careful with a guy who can’t do much damage – except when he gets on base, which is what you do by walking him, except you’ve wasted pitches. If it was me, I’d just throw fastballs right down the middle and let the chips fall where they may; why waste the pitches? What’s the worst that could happen, Gardner singles? I’m certainly glad opposing managers don’t use this strategy, but I have no idea why they are so careful with him. In their defense, Gardner did have two extra base hits yesterday, but on the other hand, Lacky stinks right now.
I don’t know why Terry Francona waited so long to go get Lackey; I heard they just brought fresh arms up to add to their bullpen, but finally, in the sixth inning, our old friend Alfredo Aceves made his Boston Red Sox debut and pitched a scoreless inning, and this was the beginning of the end for the Yankees. Bobby Jenks gave the Yankees an opportunity with some walks in the 7th inning, but he slowly found himself and threw up a zero of his own. I don’t understand how Jenks gets up every day, looks in the mirror and thinks to himself, “That’s fine,” because he is a ridiculous looking human being.
Daniel Bard also took care of business; meanwhile, Boone Logan let up 2 runs and pitched poorly against lefties, making any come back in possible and giving the Red Sox bullpen, anchored by Jonathon Papelbon and his ridiculous mound expression some breathing room. It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox finally got their fist win of the season.
Now that the Red Sox have a win, it’s hard to say what it will take for them to get another one. To win a game, they had to run into Phil Hughes, who has had two starts this year that defy explanation as decreased velocity and terrible location have coupled to make him, in a word, ineffective. What happens when they face a pitcher who is league average or even above average? Will they scorer? Will their starters turn it around? You would think the answer to both of those questions is yes, but who knows… Maybe the left handed heavy line up is better at producing runs at home.
Today, we get a match up of Ivan Nova and Clay Buchholz. Who’ll be the victor? Honestly, with the way the Red Sox have played so far this year, I have no idea. If the Red Sox are anything in the early goings, it’s unpredictable. All we can do is sit back and watch.
I took a few days off from blogging and I’ve returned to find things pretty much where I left them. The Yankees are a half game behind the Rays and still haven’t clinched a playoff spot. Still, the Yankees have reduced their magic number down to 1 – that is, 1 Yankees win or 1 Red Sox loss, whichever comes first. While the Yankees will get into the playoffs easily, winning the east is going to be tough: they’re facing the Yankee killing Toronto Blue Jays and then going into the hostile Fenway Park environment for another series with the Red Sox. Combine that with Rays schedule, and I just don’t see the Yankees winning the east. Sure, I don’t expect the Baltimore Orioles to lay down for the Rays, but Tampa has four games left with the Kansas City Royals. Nuff said.
So let’s see, what did I miss? Thursday night, CC Sabathia got a butt kicking from the Rays. Friday night, Andy Pettitte got a butt kicking from the Red Sox. Ivan Nova on the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of Death? Butt kicking by the Red Sox. Detecting a theme here? The starting pitching has been dreadful of late. Hence, Joe Girardi went with Phil Hughes last night rather than Dustin Mosely. Hughes pitched well: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 4 ks, 4 BB. Girardi sent him out there for the 7th inning, which I thought was a strange move: I can’t remember the last time Hughes pitched 7 innings (that’s because he hasn’t done it since July) and every time he goes out there in the 7th, he always seems to leave a runner out there.
Enter the bullpen: David Robertson, the man the kids call D-Rob, came out and picked up the pieces in spectacular fashion and finished out the 7th. Kerry Wood got two outs in the 8th, and then Girardi wen to Mariano Rivera to get the last out. Strange; he had Wood walk David Ortiz instead of bringing in Boone Logan. Mo got it done against Adrian Beltre, and I’m sure Mo was feeling strong since he hasn’t pitched since Monday, but it seemed like a risky gambit, especially given the lefty v lefty opportunity that Girardi passed by, which I guess was his way of saying that he doesn’t trust Logan in that situation…
So Mo blows it in the top of the 9th. It’s another ugly one as Mo’s September of Horrors continues. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 9th against Jonathan Papelbon but don’t win it, despite having the bases loaded.
The Yankees sent out Joba Chamberlain to keep the tie in tact and wouldn’t you know it, Girardi wen tot Logan to get Ortiz after all, which he did. So it’s fair to say that Girardi puzzled me in this game – but not as much as Terry Francona did in the bottom of the 10th. Francona brings in Hideki Okajima to face the lefties Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, despite the fact that Granderson already homered off Okajima in the series, but Fancona is managing by the book – fine. Then Okajima fails to retire either batter, and he sticks with him, much to my delight. He’s still got Daniel Bard down there – he said so during his stupid mid game ESPN interview. There is no tomorrow – losing this game pretty much ends the season for the Red Sox because the loss put them in the situation I described at the opening of this piece… what the hell was Francona thinking? I’m sure he had to answer this quesiton after the game, but I didn’t hear what he said – I went to bed. Note to ESPN: starting a game at 8 PM EST is TOO LATE. In the most anti-climatic win ever, Okajima walked in Juan Miranda for the Yankee win. Yep – Okajima saw three more batters after that.
Sorry I didn’t talk about Matsuzaka – he was awesome last night.
So that’s pretty much that. The Yankees can still win the east, but the Red Sox are done – unless the Yankees lose all six of their remaining games and the Red Sox win all six.