Thursday, August 28, 2008

Round Two - Yankees Given A Standing 8 Count

When we looked at this game yesterday, we saw two pitchers that had a good chance to get hit, and would probably not go deep into the game. We expected runs to be scored, but probably remain close. The game would come down to the bullpens, we thought.

Paul ByrdWe were right! Paul Byrd pitched reasonably well, lasting 6 innings and giving up 2 runs. Both runs involved Alex Rodriguez (he drove in the first and scored the second), who did his best to bounce back from a dismal game the night before. Sidney Ponson did not fare quite as well, lasting only 4 2/3 innings, and surrendering 4 earned runs.

But, a 4-2 score heading into the 7th inning is still close. So, bring on the bullpens. The Sox, thankfully, got a scoreless inning out of Manny Delcarmen in the 7th, and Mike Timlin pitched the final two innings, only allowing one run on a solo homer to Jason Giambi in the 9th. Kudos to the Sox bullpen. The Yankees bullpen? Not so good. It started off well with Edwar Ramirez and Damaso Marte combining to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings to hold the Sox at bay going into the 8th inning. But, in the 8th inning it all fell apart when Jose Veras took the mound. Jose could do nothing right. He gave up a single, triple, back to back walks to load the bases, a sacrifice fly, and an RBI single. His replacement, David Robertson, did not fare much better. Robertson gave up a single, a fatal grand slam to Dustin Pedroia, and a single to Big Papi before finally getting the last two outs. The battle of the bullpens was over.
David Robertson
Last night, I wonder if the Yankees top brass were regretting the trade of Kyle Farnsworth for Ivan Rodriguez. Certainly they needed a catcher to help fill in for Jorge Posada, who was lost to season ending shoulder surgery. But, last night Farnsworth would most likely have been sent in to take the 8th inning, and I'm certain he would have fared better. Meanwhile, I-Rod goes 0-4, and ended rallies in both the 4th and 9th innings. Hmm, tough call to sacrifice good pitching for a 36 year old catcher.

The Red Sox made another move, picking up Mark Kotsay from the Atlanta Braves. Kotsay will provide some depth and insurance with JD Drew and Sean Casey both hurting right now. Kotsay is primarily an outfielder, but he can also help out at first base too. While I think it is a smart move, especially since they traded next to nothing to acquire Kotsay (the Sox sent single A outfielder, Luis Sumoza, to the Braves), I do find it awkward to suddenly be cheering for players you are so used to rooting against.

Mark Kotsay is most know by Red Sox fans for his years with the Oakland A's. We spent many games rooting for Kotsay to strike out, hit into double plays, etc. Paul Byrd, also recently acquired by the Red Sox, was heartily cheered against just last season by Red Sox fans as he battled the Sox in the playoffs while pitching for the Cleveland Indians. To suddenly be cheering them on just feels odd. But, give it some time.

Meanwhile, while the Yankees may be doubting their Farnsworth trade, the Red Sox seem to have made out well in their trade to acquire Jason Bay. Bay has been playing quite well for the Sox, and his stats line up very well with Manny Ramirez' stats since joining their new teams. Craig Hanson was included in that trade, and Hanson has simply fallen on his face. Yesterday, the Pirates announced that Hansen was being demoted to their minor league system. Hansen has talent in that arm, he just has been able to harness it yet. Brandon Moss, who also went to the Pirates in the deal, is having a good time. He has started nearly every game for the Pirates in August, but is only batting .235 for them. But, the extra playing time should help him mature in to a solid every day player.

So, yet another interesting pitching match up unfolds this afternoon. Jon Lester will face off against Mike Mussina. Mussina has easy been New York's most reliable starter this year, while Lester has become Boston's most reliable. Both team have seen these pitchers more than once, so there will be plenty of familiarity. The Yankees should be desperate to avoid a sweep, so this one should be a tough battle.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)

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