Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A-Rod, Thames Provide Heroics in Lastest Yankees-Red Sox Classic

(all photos from Getty)

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WP: J. Vazquez (2-4) LP: J. Papelbon (1-3)

By this time I should expect these kinds of games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but wow, what a crazy game. It looked like this was going to be all Yankees from the start as they jumped all over Daisuke Matsuzaka, sending eight men to the plate and scoring five runs in the first.

Boston cut the lead to 5-1 with a run in the second when Adrian Beltre singled in Kevin Youkilis, who had singled to start the inning. But the Yankees answered with a run of their own in the six to push their lead back to five. Brett Gardner walked with two out, and then scored on Mark Teixeira's RBI double.

With Phil Hughes on the mound, I'm sure most fans felt pretty comfortable with a five run lead after two, I know I did. However, tonight was not Hughes' night, and Boston would slowly creep their way back into the game.

David Ortiz cut the Yankees lead to 6-2 with a solo homer in the fourth. Then with two out in the fifth, Marco Scutaro singled, Dustin Pedroia doubled, and J.D. Drew hammered 1-2 cutter deep into the seats in right for a three-run homer. The Yankees lead was down to one and we had a brand new ballgame. Hughes would retire Youkilis to end the fifth, but that would be the end of his night. He didn't have his best stuff, and really got hurt on two poorly placed cutters--both homers. But he was due for a bad game, and at least he was able to leave with the lead intact.

Both teams scored individual runs in their next trip to the plate--the Yankees on a Marcus Thames RBI double, and the Sox on a Victor Martinez solo homer off Boone Logan--and the score would remain 7-6 Yankees until the top of the 8th.

Logan has now given up an earned run in each of his last three outings, and lefties are now hitting .357 against him. Maybe it's time the Yankees looked at their other options.

Chan Ho Park, who was in his second inning of work, allowed a leadoff single to Drew in the eighth. Youkilis then gave Boston their first lead of the game when he launched a hanging curve ball into the seats for a two-run homer. Martinez made it back-to-back with his second solo shot of the game and the Sox now led 9-7. Park was done and Damaso Marte came into the game and got the final three outs of the inning in order.

In his first game off the DL it looked like Park ran out of gas in his second inning of work, but, since Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Sergio Mitre weren't available tonight, I can't really blame Girardi for keeping him out there.

The bullpen was so thin tonight that Javier Vazquez would play a major role in this game, but more on that later.

After the Yankees went scoreless in the eighth Marte stayed on to pitch the ninth. He retired the first batter he faced, then gave up a single and walk before retiring Drew on a groundout. That set things up for Vazquez, runners on the corner, two outs, and Kevin Youkilis at the dish. With the Yankees already down two, this was a pretty big spot in the game, and Vazquez delivered. He jumped ahead 0-2, wasted a fastball away, and then got him swinging on a slider diving low and away. That set things up for one of the best endings to a game I've seen in a while.

Gardner worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a low liner into left. The ball landed in front of a diving Darnell McDonald and bounced past him, allowing Gardner to scamper into second with a leadoff double. (Gardner is now 4-for-4 against Papelbon in his career.) Teixeira just missed tying the game but ended up with just a deep flyout to right. One on, one out, for A-Rod...

Up until that point Papelbon had thrown nothing but fastballs. Apparently, A-Rod took notice, because he hammered the first pitch he saw--a 94 mph fastball--deep into the Bronx night, tying the game at nine and sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy.

After a Robinson Cano flyout, Papelbon hit Cervelli with a pitch to bring Thames to the plate. Following in A-Rod's footsteps, Thames sat on a first-pitch fastball and destroyed it. It was gone once it left his bat, the crowd erupted, and the Yankees had won this crazy game 11-9. Oh, and it was time for some pie.

Beating Boston is always great, but this one was especially sweet. Blowing a 5-run lead to the Red Sox at home would have been a tough one to swallow, especially after Sunday's debacle. But they pulled it out, handed the Sox a crushing loss to drop them under .500, and created the next Yankees Classic.

The Yankees go for the mini two-game sweep tomorrow night in the Bronx. CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees, and Josh Beckett gets the ball for the Sox. Game time is 7:05 p.m. and the game will be on MY9.

To get a better idea of just how dramatic the swings were in this game I've posted the Win Expectancy chart from Fangraphs instead of the box score. A lot of other blogs post these in their game summaries so I've done my best not to copy their style, but for this game I had to post it.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Marcus Thames (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI)
HONORABLE MENTION: Alex Rodriguez (2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI)

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