Sunday, May 18, 2003

Game 43 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Angels 3
Record: 27-16

Thoughts while wondering how Whitney will react to Mike Piazza's two-month injury recovery:

This was really a hugely important win, for a number of reasons. The Sox needed to stop the bleeding after two bad losses, both to avoid a sweep and to enter the Yankee series that begins tomorrow on an up note. After the Yankees lost to Texas today - their seventh loss in the last ten games - the Sox knew that a win would earn them a tie for first in the division, and they delivered. The psychological impact of the Sox pulling even with the Yankees seems large, especially after New York burst from the gates more successfully than any team in that franchise's storied history. The Yankees have to be thinking about the Sox, at least a little.

Casey Fossum goes against the Yankees tomorrow, in, arguably, the most important game in his young career. It is still waaay too early in the season for this series to matter too much, but a really awful performance will set the tone for the next 18 meetings between the two teams. Fossum faces a veteran opponent in David Wells, who is a hardened, tough, big game pitcher. Casey doesn't need to be perfect, but he can't be intimidated. The Sox rejiggered their rotation to set him up for this start, showing a ton of confidence in him. Time for him to prove it's deserved. I think he will. So far this season, he's been a significant bright spot, trailing only the clutch, never-say-die offense.

Monday and Wednesday's games are televised. If I'm a wreck during most Sox games on TV, I'm a flat-out disaster when they play the Yankees. I despise the Yankees far more than any other team in any other sport, but I'd be an idiot if I said they didn't scare me as a Sox fan. They're good, they know it, and they play with a relentless, confident approach that requires their opponents to drive a stake through their hearts, burn them to ashes, and scatter the ashes to the winds before assuring victory. Their killer instinct is legendary, and the Sox need to appropriate some of that if they want to reach the same heights.

The next three days will tell a great deal about the Sox character this year. They've played well - not great - to date, but this is the first signficant pyschological test. Anything less than 2 of 3 will be a bitter disappointment.

No comments: