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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
My friends, up is down.
I try to limit what I write about the Red Sox, especially when it comes to the Red Sox playing the Yankees. Generally, I tend to be overly emotional, and I don’t think anybody wants or needs to see that. Some times I just can't skip it though, and I have to talk about this game on Saturday.
In what may have been the ugliest games ever played, the Red Sox (for once) came out on top. When I say ugly, I really mean it, but that’s not to say this game wasn't exciting. I haven't been this emotionally into a game since last year's playoffs. The game on Friday was just a warmup for this one.
I should have expected something like this. I was coming into the game fresh off an hour and a half sleep. Around six this morning, I was just finishing up an all-nite poker game where the theme, repeated many times over, was "up is down". You know, one of those wild games, with huge swings in every direction, where every time someone made the right move, he lost money. And not a little bit of money either. Pretty much the better you played the more you lost. It was chaos. I made the comment sometime with the sun rising and birds chirping, that in order for up to become up once again, I'd have to get some sleep. Things were just too weird. Well I had to work today, so I didn't get any sleep and when it came to the game Saturday, up was still down. The world was still in relative chaos.
This game had everything. And I mean everything. I'll try and recollect what I can while my head is still spinning.
Bronson Arroyo started for the Sox, against Tanyon Sturtze. Does anybody realize that Arroyo was in the top 10 in ERA going into the game? Well, I did, and I also know how wretched Tanyon Sturtze is, so I was mildly optimistic. Needless to say Sturtze started off with two perfect innings, while Arroyo was touched up for two runs in the 2nd. It wasn’t looking good. Then came the top of the 3rd.
Yankees 3, Red Sox 0. Down.
With two outs, Arroyo drilled Arod in the elbow. Now, you may already be aware of my irrational hatred for the man, but I'll try to give my best objective opinion of the ensuing drama. Here's a video of it if you want to follow along.
Arroyo didn't hit him on purpose. I don’t think anyone watching the game could claim that. That being said, Arod overreacted almost as bad as Manny did in the '03 playoffs. What gives Arod the right to bark at the mound? He ought to have shut up and taken his base. Instead, Arod starts mouthing off to Arroyo, like he just got pegged intentionally. Is Jason Varitek supposed to just let Arod have his way with the 26 year old kid on the mound? Of course not, and credit Arroyo for not backing down and barking right back at Arod. So Varitek tells Arod to shut it, Arod tosses some F-bombs Varitek's way, and Varitek just loses it.
Varitek started it, but I can't really blame him since I would have wanted to do the same thing. Nothing would have happened if Arod would have just kept his flapping mouth shut. I'm partly glad Tek jawed him to try and shut him up, and I only wish Mo Vauhgn was still around, Arod wouldn’t have tried anything back in those days.
Watch the video again. It's great to see how some players react. Some guys (Nomar, Jeter, Bellhorn, Williams, Clark) just stand around and look concerned, with no intention of doing anything.
Then you have wahoos like Tanyon Sturtze coming out of nowhere and grabbing some random guy (Gabe Kapler) in a choke hold. Some guys just look for a fight. David Ortiz was defending Kapler, but what the hell was Trot Nixon planning on doing by going after Sturtze? In the picture it looks like Trot is humping him.
I would say suspensions are coming soon, definitely for Varitek, Sturtze, and Arod, in that order of severity. Nixon will probablly get a small suspension, and Ortiz might, depending if the commissioner's office views his wildly swinging arms as an actual attempt at a punch or not.
Amazingly, Sturtze was not ejected, which was a blessing, as he'd probablly just plunk Manny and get tossed in the next inning anyways. Oh yeah, that and he sucks, so I wanted some runs off the bum. The Sox hit him up for two in the bottom half, and two more off Juan Padilla in the fourth.
Red Sox 4, Yankees 3. Up.
Meanwhile, it sure looked like Arroyo had settled down, and that by making Arod taste some leather, Varitek had shifted the momentum. But the Yankee bats came alive in the sixth, when Tito brought in "Gas Can" Leskanic, who very predictably walked three of the four batters he faced. The fourth was a 2-run single to Enrique freakin' Wilson, and this game looked to be heading towards a blowout.
Yankees 9, Red Sox 4. Down.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Red Sox came right back to score four on four hits and three walks. Never one to be outdone, Felix Heredia (who has been given the perfect nickname of "The Run Fairy" by the Yankee fans over at Primer) tried to one-up Leskanic. Joe Torre brought him in to face the lefty Ortiz, who he walked. By some idiotic lapse of judgement, Torre left him in to face Manny with the bases loaded. That’s like sending Screech into the ring against Bob "The Beast" Sapp. I mean Heredia sucks this year, and Manny CRUSHES lefties. (.381/.484/.679 over the last three years) It actually could have been worse as Heredia merely walked Manny, forcing in a run. Scott Proctor got Nomar to strikeout to end the memorable 6th.
Yankees 9, Red Sox 8. Up.
The sixth inning lasted over an hour, and saw 7 pitchers and 22 batters. This game was beginning to spiral out of control. Then the top of the 7th came, which was one of the stranger innings of all time. After a Ruben Sierra leadoff home run, the next three Yankees reached base on three consecutive Red Sox errors. Three straight errors, no outs, and the Yankees couldn’t score another run.
Yankees 10, Red Sox 8. Down.
Then the unthinkable happened. After the ugliest 6 ½ innings in baseball this year, the Yankees and Red Sox played two almost perfect innings. Nobody made any bonehead plays, there was no more fighting, and Scott Proctor, Alan Embree, and Ramiro Mendoza got people out. It either looked like both teams had given up on the game or they had suddenly remembered that they were professional ball clubs. I also was quickly losing faith that the Red Sox could win the game.
Then came the bottom of the 9th, and Mo Rivera couldn’t find the strike zone. After a double to Nomar, Trot took Rivera to the deepest part of right field. That long out would have been long, long gone in the Bronx. The suddenly red-hot Kevin Millar then came up and singled, putting a man on for Billy Mueller.
Mueller proceeded to drop one in the Red Sox bullpen sending Fenway into ¾ bedlam and ¼ shock. It sent me through the roof, and I may have somewhat injured myself in a private celebration. No matter, the Red Sox won, and I still can't believe the game I just witnessed.
Red Sox 11, Yankees 10. Way up.
Up was up again. Or down (Friday) was now up, only to become down again tommorrow? I have no idea what I am talking about, but this game was crazy. To name just a few of its features, we saw 21 runs on 27 hits and 8 walks. Four runs scored on groundouts, one on a sac-fly, and two from bases loaded walks. A hit batter (there has been at least one in each of the last four Sox/Yankees games, and 13 total in the 12 games) resulting in a bench clearing brawl and five ejections. We saw the bottom of both teams bullpens, and it was ugly. We saw three straight errors that didn’t score a run, and we saw Ramiro Mendoza pitch two perfect innings for his first win in over a year. Maybe this will help him start to prove that he's not a Yankee spy after all. We even saw a balk for crying out loud. I was half expecting the game to end with an unassisted triple play or something. It sure wouldn’t have surprised me. Instead, we saw Mariano Rivera blow a save with a walk-off HR for only the second time in his career.
I really hope this game, with its brawl and the come from behind win is enough to light a fire under this team. They need to start playing better to make the playoffs and this very well could be the turnaround point in a season that has been very disappointing so far. If the game Friday—great game in its own right—was a warmup to this one, this one better not be a warmup for the game Sunday. I'm temporarily breaking my boycott of Derek Lowe starts, but if there is another draining game like this one, I might not make it through the rest of the season. As the immortal Big Chris would say, "it's been emotional."
For now though, I'm off to get some sleep, hoping everything goes back to normal when I wake up, and I'll leave you with this, I think it says everything: