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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Game Diary: Red Sox at Yankees

Top 1st: Sox go in order; Damon does his job of showing his teammates more pitches, but Renteria and Ramirez both strike out looking. If they're going to give Randy Johnson the inside strike like that all night, he'll be nearly impossible to hit as long as he gets to that spot.
Btm 1st: And now David Wells makes his Boston debut. As expected, Jeter at leadoff and Womack at 9th; many Yankee fans feared Womack batting 1st. Ruben Sierra at cleanup? Wells works his way out of a leadoff blooper to Jeter by getting a dep fly from Rodriguez, getting a fielder's choice grounder from Sheffield, and fanning Sierra, apparently the owner of a good record against Wells. Scoreless 1st.
Boston 0, New York 0

The Sox batters took a lot of pitches, and Johnson hit enough of them to send th Sox down in order. For the Sox' part, Wells worked his way out of trouble there and his control - staying ahead in most counts - worked in his favor.

Top 2nd: Ortiz, in his first time facing Randy Johnson, took the second pitch he saw into the right-field corner, just beating the throw in for a double. Matsui robbed Millar of a home run after the wind knocked it down. Varitek broke his bat with a grounder that sent Ortiz to third, and Payton - first at bat in a Boston uniform, first RBI - brought him home with a soft liner to shallow left. Muller walked (Randy's getting the inside strike but not the outside one.) Bellhorn fanned with two men on to end the inning, in what will be the first of many whiffs this season. Boston 1, New York 0.
Btm 2nd: Wells had Matsui 0-2 but then lost him as the count went full, and gave a hit to the gap in left-center. Francona may want to consider using Manny at DH in some spacious left fields. After Posada flew out to right, Giambi hit a grounder through the infield down the line. Bernie Williams hit a deep sac fly to left that tied the game. Womack hit one into the hole, and Renteria got the force at second with a pretty throw and a nice stretch by Bellhorn.
Boston 1, New York 1

Sox draw first blood and got their licks in in the 2nd; two hits and a near home run suggests that the Big Unit's hittable. Unfortunately, the same was true of Wells in the second and the Yankees got a run out of it. Enjoy those cheers, Giambi. You're not going to get them anywhere else.

Top 3rd: Damon got on base with a ground-ball shot that Giambi couldn't handle. (They gave him an error for it, which I thought was a bad call.) Sadly, Renteria followed that with a textbook 6-4-3 double play ground ball of the sort Jim Rice was famous for in his twilight years. Manny flew out to center on the first pitch. To put it mildly, not encouraging - they sent Wells right back out there after an inning where he worked pretty hard.
Btm 3rd: Jeter got a grounder by Muller, which went into the corner for a leadoff double. Third leadoff hit in as many innings; bad sign against this team. A-Rod hit a foul ball that looked like a home run off the bat but hooked; he then went down on strikes. Sheffield hit a double into the power alley in center field that put the Yankees up 2-1. After a Sierra ground out, Matsui hit one up the middle to make it 3-1. Renteria couldn't handle a deep grounder to the hole, which kept the inning alive. Then he plunked Giambi (on an 0-2 pitch) to load the bags and start action in the Sox bullpen. Wells balked and brought in a 4th run, but fanned Bernie Williams to prevent further damage.
Boston 1, New York 4

The wheels nearly came off here, and it's not clear that the Sox are going to be able to climb back into it. The Sox hitters need to make Randy Johnson work harder and give Wells some rest time following that disastrous 3rd inning.

Top 4th: Ortiz wasn't as successful this time; at least in whiffing, he made Randy throw 7 pitches. Millar popped out. Varitek hit a double down the line that was interfered with, but was stranded at second when Payton grounded out, failing to cash in on the RBI opportunity. Short inning that doesn't bode well for Wells (or the Red Sox.)
Btm 4th: Tony Womack got the fourth leadoff hit in as many innings. Not cool. He did get Jeter (finally) on a shallow fly ball to right field but A-Rod put a single over Renteria's head, sending Womack to 3rd. Sheffield hit a hard liner, but right at Renteria. Sierra hit a soft grounder to shortstop to end the inning with a force.
Boston 1, New York 4

Not great, but it could have been worse. Three runs may be a lot against Randy Johnson, but it's not all that much against the still-relentless Red Sox offense. Making him work on forcing Torre to go to the pen earlier than he wants to could be the key.

Top 5th: Mueller grounded out, but Bellhorn got a stand-up double that looked much like Varitek's double in the 4th - not hit all that hard. Damon went down 0-2 but hung tough with multiple foul-offs before fanning. Edgar Renteria, still hitless as a Red Sock, hit a slow grounder with a bad hop. Jeter throw him out, according to the ump; I'm not sure that throw didn't take Giambi off the bag. Either way, another donut on the scoreboard and another runner stranded.
Btm 5th: Wells finally retired Matsui, who has rapidly gained a rep as a Red Sox killer; finally, a leadoff out. But Wells promptly served up a turkey that Posada put deep in left-center for a double. After plunking Giambi again(?) - this time on a first pitch - he faced Bernie with runners on first and second with one down; if the umps had any stones, he'd have ruled that Giambi made no effort to get out of the way of either ball. After an uncharacteristic walk to Bernie Williams, that loaded the bases, Wells gets the hook after allowing 13 baserunners in less than 5 innings. In came Mike Myers, an appropriate name given the horror show this game has threatened to become for Red Sox Nation. However...Myers came through, getting the speedy Tony Womack to bounce into a double play to keep the game within reach.
Boston 1, New York 4

The death blow was dodged. But I'm still annoyed. If I had to drink for every time Joe Morgan brought up Pedro Martinez...I'd be at GW Hospital having my stomach pumped right now. The window of opporunity for a comeback is starting to close.

Top 6th: The big bats are up this inning.. Manny, Ortiz, and Millar. Manny fanned again, caught looking, not looking so good tonight. Ortiz worked the count full after being down 0-2, but hit a weak grounder to short. Johnson walked Millar on four pitches, three of them not close. Varitek smoked a single down the first-base line past the diving Giambi. Payton with another clutch opportunity, but hit a weak grounder to end the inning. Johnson at 95 pitches might be done.
Btm 6th: Blaine Neal (most recently a Padre, just like Wells) makes his Red Sox debut in a hostile crowd in the Bronx, and issued a five-pitch walk to Jeter, who then stole second. Ugh, Damon badly misplayed a single from A-Rod to center and brought home Jeter, and sent A-Rod to second. A-Rod tested Manny's arm on a Sheffield flyout to left and found it wanting; again, they should consider DHing him in some games with spacious left field. Francona summoned for Embree to face Sierra. A double down the line makes it 6-1 and probably puts things out of reach. Matsui popped up to the catcher, but then Embree walked Posada. Manny did track down the fly ball off the bat of Giambi to end the inning, but not before much damage was done.
Boston 1, New York 6

The game is definitely slipping away. I definitely love watching this Esvuee commerical, purporting to inform people that SUVs (depicted here as a large beast in a rodeo-like competition) more difficult to drive and handle than ordinary cars. By the way, Joe Morgan, Ruben Sierra, even when he was good, was never "the dominant player in the American League." That I'm paying more attention to in-game banter by the TV guys and the commericals suggests how this game is going from my point of view, like one of those Super Bowls between two teams I could care less about. We Red Sox fans should just keep asking ourselves "Would we trade this game for any of the eight wins that closed the postseason?" and answering with an emphatic "No."

Top 7th: Tanyon Sturtze, of Answer Guy's hometown of Worcester, goes in to pitch the 7th to pitch to, among others, Bay State-born Mark Bellhorn. Mueller was called out on what he was sure was Ball Four (and should have been.) Bellhorn went down swinging. Tino Martinez, brought in as a defensive replacement, robbed Damon of a hit. Down in order, and for some reason Fat Joe comes on TV for the 7th inning stretch, and between Fat Joe and Cotton Eye Joe, I think it's time to switch channels for the moment.
Btm 7th: Interest waning as Mike Timlin is summoned. I wonder why their using these guys in what is at least borderline garbage time, though they do have an off-day tomorrow. Timlin whiffs Bernie Williams, but Renteria couldn't quite get Womack (who would have beaten a perfect throw) out on a deep grounder. Womack gets second on a wild pitch but was stuck there when Jeter grounded to second and A-Rod flied to right.
Boston 1, New York 6

While we're on the subject of baseball....I wonder if anyone had Alex Sanchez in the First Player Testing Positive Pool. This would have paid better much odds than, say, Michigan State in the Final Four. Alex Sanchez? Shouldn't he be requesting a refund on the juice, since it doesn't seem to work on him? Glad to see that the Red Sox finally have the Dave Roberts Steal that color men can discuss incessantly, to at least balance all that Bucky Dent/Aaron Boone crap we've been hearing for so long. Meanwhile, Joe Morgan is having fun and sounding very self-satisfied playing "Taboo," trying to throw more criticism at Billy Beane and "Moneyball" while not mentioning either by name. I think I hear the X-Box beckoning me to turn it on so I can race sports cars. Curt Schilling and Wade Miller had better be back soon; I don't want to be counting on David Wells for anything (other than perhaps being able to finish off what's in the fridge.)

Top 8th: A-Rod made an impressive play to get Renteria - everything going New York's way. Ramirez flies out to center. And Ortiz whiffed. When Tanyon Sturtze sets down six of your hitters in a row, it's not your night.
Btm 8th: The oft-injured Matt Mantei, late of the D'Backs, makes his Red Sox debut in a rainy Yankee Stadium that's starting to empty out. A leadoff walk to Sheffield leads to 2 more runs as Matsui hits the first homer of the 2005 season. It's David McCarty time, or should be. The crowd, or what's left of it, goes nuts for Tino Martinez as he walks. Then Mantei issues a free pass to Williams. John Halama makes his Red Sox debut. Renteria can't make the play on a bouncing ball to shortstop hit by Womack, and the Yankees load the bases again. Then Halama did a Bill Buckner imitation by having the ball go between his legs on a comebacker. No beginners' luck for new Red Sox hurlers in the Bronx tonight. Is it David McCarty time yet? Nope, as Mueller makes - horror of horrors - a nice play at get A-Rod on a soft-grounder to third. Barring what would have to be the biggest [single-game] collapse in Yankee history, we don't have to watch any more Sox pitchers trot out there and remind us that Pedro Martinez is gone. Or have Joe Morgan remind us, for that matter.

Oooh...they showed the A-Rod "bitch slap" play on Bronson Arroyo from the ALCS again. Classic, even if I have to hear Joe Morgan defend A-Rod again. (Note: If one of Games 4-7 had gone the other way, this game would be literally unwwatchable.) Fortunately, this isn't Champions League European soccer, which means the score is still 0-0 in Tuesday's game.

Top 9th: Red Sox down to their final three outs trailing 8-1. Former Sox pitcher Tom Gordon, now in pinstripes, takes the hill; we'll already have fond memories of Gordon, not only because he pitched well for us. After a leadoff walk to Kevin Millar and another double by Jason Varitek, the Sox had the opportunity to at least make things a bit more respectable. Trot comes in to pinch hit against righty Gordon, and hits a fly deep enough to score a run. A run for an out isn't always a bad trade, but you need more than that down 8. Or 7, for that matter. Mueller's fly to right made Bellhorn the final hope for the exceedingly unlikely comeback. Which of course didn't happen, as Bellhorn whiffed to end the game.

Ugh. The Red Sox' title defense begins in the same way their title season did - with a big fat L in the standings.

At least the pennants aren't going to have to come down, even if this game is cloned 161 times this season.

Answer Guy's Sports Diary (Part I)
Red Sox at Yankees, 8:05 PM

Well, here we are...another off-season - the first one in the basking in the afterglow of a Red Sox World Series triumph for nearly all of Red Sox Nation - has come to a close. The previews have been written and rewritten, the time has passed, and the hot stove can lie fallow for the season.

Other weird themes:

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: Edgar Renteria was the last out of the World Series, the last obstacle to be overcome for the Red Sox in their unprecedented run to the World Championship... he now finds himself donning their uniform.

Reversal of fortune:David Wells starting on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium...for Boston. Thought I'd see a statue of General Sherman in Atlanta before I saw this day.

Over The Hill Two teams that had [essentially] no lefty starters last year put out two lefties. Both will turn 42 during the course of this season.

The Red Sox have lost four straight Opening Day games, all of them on the road. So my expectations aren't high, but we'll see...

Answer Guy's Over-Under For 2005 Major League Baseball

Presented without further comment, just so I get this in before the start of tonight's Opening Game between Good and Evil...

AL East
New York Yankees: 97-65
Boston Red Sox: 92-70 (Wild Card)
Baltimore Orioles: 83-79
Toronto Blue Jays: 74-88
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 72-90

AL Central
Minnesota Twins: 88-74
Cleveland Indians: 83-79
Chicago White Sox: 79-83
Detroit Tigers: 74-88
Kansas City Royals: 61-101

AL West
Anaheim/California/Los Angeles/Whatever Angels: 94-68
Oakland Athletics: 87-75
Texas Rangers: 80-82
Seattle Mariners: 75-87

NL East
Florida Marlins: 90-72
Atlanta Braves: 86-76
Philadelphia Phillies: 86-76
New York Mets: 83-89
Washington Nationals: 71-91

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals: 98-64
Chicago Cubs: 86-76
Houston Astros: 82-80
Milwaukee Brewers: 77-85
Cincinnati Reds: 74-88
Pittsburgh Pirates: 67-95

NL West:
San Diego Padres: 92-70
Los Angeles Dodgers: 90-72 (Wild Card)
San Francisco Giants: 83-79
Arizona Diamondbacks: 64-98
Colorado Rockies: 61-101

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