Monday, July 7, 2008

Red Sox Forced to Settle for Series Split With Yankees

It played out just the way Tampa Bay hoped it would. The Rays were about to start playing Kansas City, a team they should be able to dominate, and their closest competition, the Red Sox and Yankees, would be playing each other. The Rays were happy to watch the Sox and Yanks beat each other up in a futile effort to move up in the standings while they racked up wins against the Royals. So, the Sox and Yanks split their four game series, and the Rays won three straight from KC, resulting in the Rays increasing their lead by 1.5 games over both the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Rays now hold a 5 game lead, and appear to be setting the dial to cruise control.

Tim WakefieldThe Red Sox lost the last two games of the series in well fought, close games. In both, they managed to get Mariano Rivera on the ropes, and both times failed to connect with the knock out blow. Last night, Terry Francona seemed to have made the smart moves to put his guys in position to win. In the top of the ninth, with Rivera on the mound, Sean Casey lead off with a single. Preferring more speed on the bases, Tito sent in Brandon Moss to pinch run for Casey, and Coco Crisp nicely bunted him over to second base. One out, and a man in scoring position.

Tito then made an interesting decision. The next batter was Julio Lugo, who has not been batting so well lately. So, Tito pinch hits for him - not a bad idea, BUT he sends on Jason Varitek to hit for him. Varitek has been in a terrible slump lately, but you just have to hope he gets the bat on the ball in that spot. Tito was probably hoping for at least a sacrifice fly to get Moss over to third. Instead, Varitek broke his bat on the first pitch, weakly grounding out to the pitcher, holding Moss at second base.

Manny Ramirez Strikes OutSo, Tito goes for the big gun, and sends in Manny Ramirez to hit for Kevin Cash. Again, a very smart move that did not play out. For some bizarre reason, Manny went up to the plate and watched three straight change ups to go by, all of them called strikes! He never once took the bat off his shoulder! Even Rivera could not believe it. "I was kind of surprised, yeah, definitely," Rivera said. "Yeah, I was kind of surprised he didn't take the bat off his shoulder. I don't know what he was thinking. That's Manny." No one knows what Manny was thinking. I can't imagine he was being uncooperative because he wanted the whole night off, but that's what it looked like.

Having squandered their chance, the game went into the 10th inning, where the Yankees were able to sneak in a run off of Jonathan Papelbon. With a runner on second and two outs, Paps immediately worked the count to 0-2 against Brett Gardner, but could not get the 3rd strike. Garder ended up hitting a perfectly placed grounder up the middle that Cora tried to knock down, but it hit the lip of the grass and Cora could not come up with it.

Alex CoraA well fought game all around. Wakefield and Joba Chamberlain went toe to toe and came out of it with a draw. Wake went 6 1/3 innings allowing 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 5 strikeouts. Joba went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 5 strikeouts. So, you see, you can be just as effective with speed as without. The Sox bullpen (Javier Lopez) gave up one run, and so did the Yankee's pen (David Robertson). So, it all came down to the closers. Even then, it was a split decision, with the victory going to Rivera over Papelbon.

The Sox finally get to come back home, and if their usual success in Fenway Park continues, maybe they'll be able to inch closer to the Rays before the All Star Break.

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


Peter N said...

Daisuke brought back the winning ways at Fenway. 5 to go...let's win 4, with Clay going on Friday against the O's.

Rooster said...

You said it Peter! Now, are you ready to cheer for the Yankees? If they beat up the Rays, it helps us, but I just can't cheer for them!

Anonymous said...

Still don't think you give Mariano enough credit. Check out his numbers this year. By the way, I might get to give you an I told you so on Giambi also.

So is Boston finally getting sick of 'Manny being Manny?'

Good posts... Keep them up.

Dave G

Rooster said...

Mariano is having a better year than I expected, and his stats are very impressive. But, when i've seen him face off against the Sox, he still looks vulnerable. In the past, when he came in the game was over - no questions asked. Now, he's getting the job done, but barely (against the Sox). I do have to give him credit - he's having a sweet year so far.

But, he is aging, and it is taking a toll. Will he still have it come September?

Manny? I am getting the sense that patience for Manny is wearing very thin. but, all it takes is a nice hot streak to make amends!

How about A-Rod stirring up the media? Nice role model he's turning out to be.