Saturday, July 05, 2003

Games 84 & 85 - Red Sox

Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
Red Sox 10, Yankees 2
Record: 50-35

Well. Um. Wow! I certainly didn't expect this, and I was thisclose to starting another blog boycott, but I just couldn't bear to face the mockery. The Sox have absolutely owned the Yankees in the first two games of this series, slugging 10 homers and battering David Wells and Roger Clemens, while keeping the Yankee offense off-balance throughout. Both games were televised on broadcast networks, so I caught every lovely inning. True sign of Sox fan dementia: I was yelling at the television this afternoon when Chad Fox walked Jason Giambi with a 6-run lead in the 8th inning. The years of disappointment have built up a plaque on my psyche that won't let me believe in a lead until the final out is recorded.

Also of note, it is clear that I'm getting really good at this reverse jinx thing. Mendoza pitched 5 scoreless innings, and should have been able to go one more, if not for some shaky fielding by his teammates that led to an extra 15 pitches in the bottom of the 5th. He was really effective, pitching out of several jams, and only giving up a handful of really well-hit balls. If he can build some strength and give the Sox 6-7 effective innings every 5th day, things are looking up.

David Ortiz hasn't gotten much airtime in this space this season, but he has been a beast in the first two games of this series. He's hit 4 homeruns, including two of the most mammoth blasts I've ever seen. Well, two of the three most mammoth, in the mix with the bomb Manny touched off in the third inning of the first game. That was the first ball I've ever seen reach the upper deck in left field in Yankee Stadium, or at least the first I can remember.

The Yankees have looked really crappy in these games, too. Both Wells and Clemens labored, as the combination of 90+ degree temperatures and the scorching Sox offense made them both look like the 40 year-old pitchers they are. The Yankee defense was mediocre, at best, and they left 10 men on base in today's game. The New York bullpen is, arguably, worse than the Sox'. They are still a dangerous team, but they have their weaknesses. That won't make me sleep any easier, as they still scare me senseless.

By far the least pleasant part of the last two days was listening to Tim McCarver this afternoon. While he was highly complimentary of the Sox offense, his hysterical diabtribe against Bill James and Theo Epstein in the late innings was alternately misinformed and just plain asinine. McCarver kept repeating, "How could anyone have convinced Epstein that a team doesn't need a stopper?", as his voice screeched and raised. He railed against Bill James, Stat Guy while conveniently forgetting that Jamesian principles built the best offense baseball has seen in the last 25 years. More to the point, though, the Sox never said that a team doesn't need a stopper, but simply that the best usage of such stopper might not be automatically in the 9th inning. McCarver, in his haste to condemn that which is anathema to old-school baseball men, failed to get the facts right before he began spewing.

Still, even Tim McCarver can't ruin the first two games of this series for me. Burkett against Pettitte tomorrow and then Pedro against Mussina Monday. Probably best I can hope for is a split, but that wouldn't be altogether bad.

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