I can’t pretend to be inside Josh Beckett’s head. (The thought of going anywhere near his head is highly unappealing.) So I can’t say with any certainty that he hit anybody on purpose in tonight’s 10-3 massacre at Fenway. But here’s what I think. He was cruising along with pinpoint control, striking out batter after batter. Then Swisher drove one out of the park for three runs. And the Beckster wasn’t amused. Or, as MLB’s Bryan Hoch put it, he became unhinged.
He pitched inside to Cano, hit him on the knee and knocked him out of the game. Just what we needed: another injury. Actually, not just another injury but an injury to our hottest hitter. The Beckster threw in the vicinity of Cervelli’s head twice, including once after Cisco had the nerve to step out of the batter’s box. And then we get to Jeter, who was plunked squarely on the #2 on his back. I was watching via the NESN feed (thanks, MLB Network), but it was easy to see how angry some of the Yankees were — CC, A-Rod, even Mo. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mo mad, because normally he looks like this.
Anyhow, the Beckster basically handed the Yankees the ball game, but we did get timely hits too. (You go, Randy Winn.) And even better, we got another great performance by Huuughes. He got into trouble here and there but always managed to get himself out of it, and gave us seven strong innings. Kudos. I wish D-Rob would recapture his 2009 form, but maybe he needs some time in Scranton to work things out. Dunno. What I also don’t know is why the ump didn’t warn Beckett….and whether the Yankees will retaliate tomorrow with CC on the mound. If I were a Red Sock and CC plunked me, I sure wouldn’t charge the mound and risk looking at this.
On one hand, I want to see the Yankees send a message. On the other, we don’t need any ejections or suspensions, and we certainly don’t need more injuries. I mean, Nick Johnson. Wow. When I heard he had a sore wrist and was on his way to NY for an MRI, all I could think of was that he’s becoming this guy, only with a better attitude.
To sum up, in yesterday’s post I speculated that The Rivalry might be getting a little stale. Now? Not so much.
On the eve of the first game in yet another Yankees-Red Sox series, I was feeling a little tired of The Rivalry. Seriously. Not only do we play them tomorrow night for what seems like the millionth time, but with some of the old Red Sox antagonists gone — Pedro, Schilling, Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar — I began to wonder if I could muster the same old feelings. You know the ones I’m talking about. They look like this.
Now that the Yankees are coming off a championship and have already won this season’s opening round at Fenway, I’m not quite as crazed as usual. I mean, David Ortiz pals around with A-Rod during batting practice. Mike Lowell always seems pleasant enough. And what about how Jeter jokes with Pedroia and Youkilis; the three of them act like brothers, for God’s sake.
So what’s to get all worked up about? The fans at Fenway and their “Yankees suck” chants? Even that’s so yesterday. I’m telling you, I was sitting here wondering how to psyche myself up for tomorrow night and then I lit on Boston’s starter for the game: Josh Beckett. Yesss. There’s no one I enjoy watching the Yankees beat more than the Beckster. So, for anyone reading this who’s having the same sense of malaise that I was, check out this video. It was made by a love struck Red Sox fan named Hillary. Pay particular attention to the shot of Josh with the deer. Well, the puppy one’s cool too. Anyhow, just try and watch this and then tell me you don’t want the Yanks to hit, like, 20 homers off this guy.
OK, that’s stretching it. But Hideki, who is very likely finishing up his final season in pinstripes, has been belting homers lately. He hit two in Seattle on Thursday night, two in Boston on Friday night and two in Boston tonight. Not too shabby for a guy whose knees are so bad he has to keep having them drained.
His wife must be very proud (if she really exists).
He wasn’t the only Bomber to hit bombs off Beckett in the Yankees’ 8-4 series win at Fenway.
Jeter in the first: Boom!
Cano in the fourth: Boom!
A-Rod in the fifth: Boom!
It was that sort of night. And CC provided the power from the mound. Wouldn’t you be scared to hit against a guy that looked like this?
He went six-plus, didn’t walk a batter and threw 118 pitches, giving up four runs, three earned, and staying focused even when his defense let him down. He was a beast, plain and simple. Watch him roar.
(Here, kitty kitty. That lion has seriously scary teeth. CC, on the other hand, can afford a good dentist.)
Hughes and Mo came in to finish the Sox off, and the Yankees left town with a 7.5 game lead in the division.
But all was not perfect tonight. Cano made two errors. (Maybe he needs a few days off, Joe.) And Damon did one of his flying Wallenda acts in left field.
Still, it was a spectacular road trip that Yankee fans have to feel pumped about. Sure, there’s over a month to go, and if I were Brian Cashman I’d try to pick up better pitching insurance than Mitre or Gaudin. I wouldn’t mind another glove in the outfield, either. But I’m as optimistic about the postseason as a pessimist can be. I’m seeing the glass half full.
P.S. I’m passing along a photo that was sent to me the other day. A Yankee she-fan from Texas read my book while she was on vacation in Hawaii and wanted me to see the proof. Thanks, Mary. Very thoughtful of you.
Maybe A.J. Burnett was overheating in the 91-degree weather. Maybe he ate some iffy cream pie before the game. Maybe he couldn’t get on the same page as his catcher. Or maybe he was just plain bad.
Whatever the problem, A.J. had a nationally televised meltdown at Fenway, and it led to the Yankees’ 14-1 drubbing by the Red Sox. His pitches were up in the zone. His stuff wasn’t dipping and diving. His body language was crappy. In the fifth, after he teed one up for Ortiz to put Boston ahead 8-0, he was captured by the Fox cameras muttering to himself, “Why? Why did you do that?” I’ll tell you why, honey. You sucked today and we all saw it.
But the Yankees wouldn’t be 6.5 games up in the division if it weren’t for A.J., who’s been superb for the most part. So I forgive him for having a lousy outing. I just hope he doesn’t take it too hard. I hear he has a tendency to play the brooding hero.
Well? They kind of look alike.
OK. No, they don’t. Not like these two.
Moving right along…..While A.J. certainly set the losing tone today, he had plenty of company. Aceves gave up three runs and hasn’t been effective for awhile now. Robertson has the ability to strike people out, but he allowed two runs. Cano made a base running blunder. (Memo to Yankees: Stop trying to stretch singles into doubles at Fenway!) Hinske is ill equipped to handle left field duties. And the Yankees were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Oh, and we had no bench – not when Molina was pressed into service at third base.
Aside from Nick Swisher’s offense, the game was enough to make any Yankee tear out his hair.
But I expected it. This rivalry is all about insanely long games and extremely unlikely results. I don’t even want to speculate about CC versus Beckett on Sunday night, because I’m sure I’ll be wrong. All I know is that we’ll still be in first place when it’s over.
I think it was in the second inning. The Yankees had scored six runs off Brad Penny, who, despite a generous strike zone by Joe West, was having trouble getting people out. I said to my husband, “I’d really like it if the Yankees scored twenty runs tonight.”
He rolled his eyes, as if I’d asked for the impossible, and made a crazy face at me.
I said, “The Yankees can do it,” and made a crazy face right back at him.
After A-Rod’s almost-homer in the fifth, Penny was pulled for Bowden, a call-up, and Matsui promptly went deep for 9-1. Posada, Cano, Melky, Jeter, Hinske and Tex all got on base, and it was 12-1 by the time the inning was over. I kind of felt sorry for the kid because he was back on the mound for the sixth, gave up three more runs and was clearly taking one for the team.
Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte was pitching a decent (if inefficient) game. He benefitted from Jeter’s amazing throw-out of Pedroia at third but was victimized by that lame play when Hinske and Melky couldn’t figure out which of them was supposed to catch the ball. Andy came out and Brian Bruney came in, and the Red Sox started to come back.
“I’m telling you, the Yankees need twenty runs to win this game,” I said with greater urgency after Bruney walked two and hit a batter.
“That’s ridiculous,” he scoffed. “You’re just saying that because you love blowouts.”
“No, I’m saying it because no lead is safe at Fenway.“
My wish was granted when Ramirez relieved in the top of the ninth. Matsui homered again (seven RBIs!) and Swisher doubled home Cano. The score: 20-7. I was in heaven. “Who’s crazy now?” I said. “We did get twenty.“
“I’m sorry I doubted you,” said my husband.
We made up and watched the bottom of the ninth. Mitre was pitching.
“I wonder if he’ll be any good out of the pen,” I said.
I got my answer quickly. Varitek? Homer. Kotchman? Single. Ortiz? Double. Lowell? Homer. Baldelli? Hit by pitch. The score was 20-11 with two outs, but Mitre, who would be shipped to Tazmania if it were up to me, retired Gonzalez to end the nearly four-hour contest.
“Feel better now?” asked my husband.
“Much,” I said. “But I’m already worrying about tomorrow. I hope Johnny will be OK after fouling that pitch off his knee.”
“They said he’s day to day.”
“And I hope the Yankees didn’t use up all their offense.”
“They can’t ‘use up’ their offense. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Then how does it ‘work?'”
“Baseball is all about pitching,” said my husband. “If AJ is on tomorrow, everything should be fine.“
“Right. But twenty runs would still be good.“
Why wasn’t I more engaged during tonight’s 4-1 loss to the Red Sox? What made me sit quietly instead of yell at the TV? How come I was even tempted to change the channel?
Maybe it was because I was concerned about my car, which I’d stupidly driven into a curb, busting the right front wheel well and necessitating a call to Roadside Assistance.
Or maybe it was because Girardi put Berroa at third again instead of the more defensively capable Pena, so I was not surprised when Angel made those two errors.
I suppose my detachment could have been due to the fact that Robinson Cano was the only Yankees batter with a pulse.
Or that, while Ellsbury’s stealing home must have been a genuine thrill for Red Sox fans, it left me cold.
I certainly wasn’t amused that Pettitte, despite the walks, pitched another decent game with nothing to show for it except this.
And while Mike Lowell was an RBI machine, he looked gimpy at third and made me worry how A-Rod will fare when he returns from his own hip surgery. (Please hurry, Al.)
I was roused from my stupor when Mark Melancon made his appearance, and I was impressed with his two scoreless innings of relief work.
But he’s 24. Didn’t he look, like, 40?
Seriously. I thought I was watching a scene from “Benjamin Button.”
I was really excited when I got an email during the game from Greg of Red Sox Ramblings. He had an encounter with Dave Winfield while he was working at Fenway and wanted to let me know. Very cool, Greg! I loved it!
In the end, I guess I was just suffering from Yankees-Red Sox Fatigue – all those hours and innings without a single victory. I would be discouraged right now, except that the Yanks are a very good team that ran into a very hot club. It happens. I don’t think anybody could have beaten the Sox this weekend, given the streak they’re on.
The good news? There are 144 games left. Plenty of time for the Yankees to get hot too.
(Daily Flip Video Contest Reminder. Great pics are coming in, so add yours!)
Even on the day that Cee Cee arrived in the Bronx to inspect his new workplace…
all I could think about was him.
Everywhere I looked, Yankees bloggers were going completely bloggy over the possibility that the Manster might become a Bomber. Some were pro. Some were con. Some said Hank and Hal were pro. Some said Cashman and Girardi were con. Which reports were accurate? Which were pure speculation? It got to the point where my brain just exploded.
I’ve been all over the blogosphere letting it be known that I was firmly in the “con” camp. Manny, I acknowledged, was a gifted hitter who would, indeed, come cheaper than Teixeira, but the Yankees didn’t need a troublemaker, a malingerer, a guy who shoved traveling secretaries. Besides, we had enough aging outfielders to fill a hotel ballroom with DH-es.
I’d convinced myself that I knew what I was talking about…..until I had a conversation with my brother-in-law, the rabid Red Sox fan.
Geoff lives in Concord, NH. (“Live free or die!”) He was the photo editor at both the Concord Monitor and the Boston Globe, and now has a very successful photography business. But this is the thing about Geoff: He loves Manny. He misses Manny. He’s sure the Red Sox would have won the ’08 World Series if they’d kept Manny. And – here’s the biggie – he thinks the Yankees would be lucky to get Manny.
She-Fan: So what do you love about Manny?
Geoff: He’s one of the best right-handed hitters that’s ever played the game. Nobody works harder.
She-Fan: Excuse me?
Geoff: It’s true. You ask any manager, any player. Ask Joe Torre and Don Mattingly. No one works harder than Manny.
She-Fan (trying not to choke): What about his defense?
Geoff: It’s gotten better every year. He wasn’t a liability, that’s for sure. People underestimate him because he’s very young emotionally.
She-Fan: Are you saying he’s, um, developmentally challenged?
Geoff: No. He just plays like a kid. He has that kind of enthusiasm.
She-Fan: He didn’t sound very enthusiastic when he was sniping at the Red Sox.
Geoff: I think what he said was true. Whenever they want to get rid of someone, they vilify them. They did the same thing with Nomar and Pedro. They even did it with Mo Vaughn. There are two sides to every story.
She-Fan: They didn’t make up the fact that he got into a little tiff with Youkilis.
Geoff: Youkilis is an *******. He comes into the dugout after he makes an out and starts cursing and acting crazy. Manny just told him to cut it out.
She-Fan: And the traveling secretary? Didn’t Manny take the poor guy down?
Geoff (laughs): Nobody’s perfect.
She-Fan: So you give him a pass for that?
Geoff: No. But look at how much he brought to the Red Sox. Big Papi would never have been the hitter he’s been without Manny.
She-Fan: Do you have a favorite Manny moment?
Geoff: When he went inside the Green Monster to go to the bathroom during a game.
She-Fan: I can’t imagine him pulling that stuff with the Yankees. No way.
Geoff: Can you imagine him batting behind Alex Rodriguez? Do you have any idea how many strikes A-Rod will see? Can you live with the two of them hitting 50 home runs a year? Do the names Mantle and Maris ring a bell? Are you at all interested in a few more World Championships for the Yankees?
He had me there.
She-Fan: Let me ask you one more question, and I want you to take all the time you need to answer it. What will you do if Manny does sign with the Yankees?
Geoff (without missing a beat): I’ll become a Yankee fan.
Needless to say, I was stunned. Stunned!
Here’s a shot of Geoff and me at Fenway in ’07 when I was there for my book.
Doesn’t he look happy? Could this lifelong Red Sox fan really switch sides? Does Manny Ramirez truly have the power to convert someone to another religion?