Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rivalry Revisited: Yankees vs. Red Sox

After not meeting with each other since an exciting two-game series back on May 17th/18th, the Red Sox traveled back into the Bronx for a meaningful four game series against our beloved New York Yankees. Before I get started on my review of the weekend, let’s get a few things straightened out first.

1) Never count out the Boston Red Sox. We all hate their guts and can’t stand them, but don’t ever say their season is over until it truly is. They’ve been riddled with injuries all year and have stuck within striking distance nearly the entire time. There are six games in the last two weeks of the season against them, thus anything can happen. Without having to say it… I think everyone gets the gist of why to never count them out.

2) If you go to a Yankee game, why boo Lance Berkman? On Saturday, Berkman was hit by the boo-birds of Yankee Stadium after another 0 for 3 day (even though he walked and scored on Granderson’s triple). The man had been on the Yankees’ active roster FOR ONE WEEK AND HE WAS BEING BOOED ALREADY AFTER 20 AT BATS. I would expect this out of Phillie fans, not Yankee fans. Show the man some respect. Funny how things change after a 3 for 4 day on Sunday for the Big Puma.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for a rant. Let’s get on to the series!

This series could easily have been a make or break for both teams. The Yankees had a chance to sink Boston and the Red Sox had a shot at nearly smelling first place in the AL East for the first time in the 2010 campaign. Here’s all five possible outcomes of the series… keep in mind that the Yankees were 6 games ahead of Boston going into Friday’s action. If Yankees swept Boston: 10 game lead If Yankees took three of four: 8 game lead If Yankees/Sox split: 6 game lead If Red Sox took three of four: 4 game lead If Red Sox swept: 2 game lead As we can all tell, a lot was on the line.

Javier Vazquez took the mound on Friday night to kickoff the series against Clay Buchholz. David Ortiz hit a solo shot in the 1st to give Boston an immediate 1-0 edge. Mark Teixeira answered with a blast of his own, a two-run dinger to put the Yankees in front for the first time. However, this would also be the last time the Yankees led on Friday. Vazquez didn’t have his best stuff and it definitely showed. After loading the bases with Sawx (no thanks to Cervelli missing a pop-up…), Javy walked Jacoby Ellsbury to force a run home and tie the game. Marco Scutaro would proceed to double and score two more to put Boston ahead 4-2. A relatively quiet game until the 5th, Alex Rodriguez hit an RBI single to bring New York back within a run. Unfortunately, Vazquez would cough up two more runs to rookie Ryan Kalish on his first homerun in the Big Leagues that would give Boston plenty of breathing room. Other than Cano’s 3 hits, the Yankees went down without much of a fight. Vazquez was charged with 6 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits and 4 walks through 5.1. Buchholz was good enough, surrendering 3 runs on 9 hits and 0 walks. Chamberlain, Wood, Logan and Gaudin combined for the final 3.2 allowing no runs.

Every fan felt great about Saturday’s matchup as John Lackey took the mound against CC Sabathia. Why feel so great? CC hasn’t lost at home since 2009. This was also the matchup of Game 1 of the ALCS (which I was at!) and CC outpitched Lackey handily. To be honest, things looked grim to open up the game. Victor Martinez launched a ball 407 feet to leftfield to lead off the 2nd and Mike Lowell had an RBI double to give Boston a 2-0 lead. After Lance Berkman worked a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning, Curtis Granderson tripled off the right-centerfield wall (narrowly missing a homerun) to get the Yankees on the board. Ramiro Pena completed the job by grounding out to 2nd which allowed Granderson to score and tie the game. Back to back RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada in the 5th would give the Yankees a 4-2 lead and a nice insurance run in the 6th on a RBI single by Pena would be more than enough. Sabathia was absolutely filthy, going 8 innings allowing only 6 hits, 1 walk and striking out 4. Although he’d only thrown 101 pitches, Girardi summoned Mariano Rivera for the 9th. Utilizing 8 pitches, the Red Sox were simply overmatched and the Yankees took game two.

This is a small interruption in the review. I’m not sure why people say the Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry has lost its steam. Perhaps it’s because the Yankees hold a somewhat large lead over the Red Sox in the standings? Or maybe it’s not filled with the same aggressive players from 2003 and 2004? Either way, sitting in the bleachers on Sunday night was definitely a show. I witnessed many fights and heard many “Red Sox Suck” chants as well as some graphic T-shirts and select word choices. I assure you all, the rivalry is still alive out in sections 201, 202, 203.

Sunday night baseball is always exciting, especially when it’s Yankees vs. Sawx. Sunday was no exception. In what was slated to be a rematch of the epic August 7, 2009 15 inning extravaganza in the Bronx, A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett were supposed to face off. However, Burnett was scratched after straining his back on Saturday and Dustin Moseley was given the nod. The Yankees struck first. Lance Berkman doubled in the 2nd and scored on a Brett Gardner infield single after a throwing error by Bill Hall from 3rd base (a throw that made Marcus Thames’ throw during the Cleveland series look just as good). Gardner would proceed to steal second and be singled in by the Captain, Derek Jeter. Hall would get his revenge in the 4th inning when he took Moseley deep to left to slice the lead in half. Once again, Mark Teixeira answered with a blast of his own, 417 feet into the bleachers in rightfield. Berkman hit an RBI double to score A-Rod to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. After Gardner struck out, Kevin Cash tried to pick Cano off at 3rd base. The throw hit Cano’s helmet and flew into leftfield. Robinson ran home as Beckett began to cry. Like clockwork, Jeter smoked a double into the right-centerfield gap to score Berkman and Granderson. Beckett would leave the game after 4.2 innings having given up 7 earned runs on 11 hits and 2 walks. Moseley worked into the 7th inning and was relieved by Joba Chamberlain. Moseley left to a standing ovation after an incredible spot start of 6.1 IP, 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned runs. Wakefield shut down the Yankees through 3 innings, but it was too little too late. Logan, Robertson and Rivera finished off the Red Sox and fueled a 7-2 victory.

The Monday matinee was an important game for Boston, mainly because they would either lose two games on the Yankees or be in the same position they were in when the series started. It was a duel of All Stars as Jon Lester faced off against Phil Hughes. I’ll tell you what, it was a hot day and painful to watch the Yankees get dominated. The Red Sox managed to score twice in the 2nd inning on an infield hit by Bill Hall and an RBI groundout by J.D. Drew. Austin Kearns managed to break up Lester’s mini-no hitter in the 5th with a single (Thank the Lord). Hughes would go 6 strong innings allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk. Lester went 6.1 innings letting up 0 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. Monday was all about missed opportunities for New York. The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th, and Granderson, Jeter and Swisher all struck out. Mark Teixeira, exactly one year after homering off Bard to win the game for the Bombers, drilled a 416 foot bomb into the 2nd deck to put New York within one. Kearns would ground out with men on 1st and 2nd with two out to end the 8th. Derek Jeter managed to get to 2nd base in the 9th with one out, but Swisher and Teixeira both struck out against Papelbon and the Red Sox forced a split.

The Yankees could have easily won both games they lost, but that’s baseball for you. Anything can happen, and a lot of strange things did this weekend. At least the Yankees didn’t lose any ground to Boston.

Series Notes:

1) Mark Teixeira hit three homeruns during the series and has now hit 8 homeruns in his last 16 games. He’s also the only Yankee to hit a homerun against Boston this series.

2) Alex Rodriguez was hit in the shin by a Berkman liner during batting practice Saturday and didn’t play that day.

3) Other than Game 1 of the World Series, the last time CC Sabathia has received a loss at home was July 2, 2009 against the Seattle Mariners.

4) Red Sox and Yankees don’t meet again until September 25-27 in the Bronx. That is sure to be a huge series.

5) Yankees are 7-5 against Boston this year.

Yankee stats from the weekend:
  • Record: 2-2
  • OBP: .336
  • RISP: .195 (8 for 41)
  • Homeruns: 3
  • Runs scored: 16
  • ERA: 2.25
Red Sox stats from the weekend:
  • Record: 2-2 OBP: .294
  • RISP: .179 (5 for 28)
  • Homeruns: 4
  • Runs scored: 12
  • ERA: 4.24

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