Saturday, October 11, 2003

American League Championship Series - Games 2 & 3

Yankees 6, Red Sox 2
Yankees 4, Red Sox 3

This Sox team refuses to make anything easy. One flat game, and one really ugly game, and the Yankees have ripped the momentum right back.

The Game 2 loss was pretty much preordained, in hindsight. Derek Lowe was game, but just a touch off after pitching in 3 of 5 ALDS games. I don't hang this one on him. I had a bad feeling after 7 of the first 9 Sox batters reached base and they only plated 1 run. Turned to my mother, who is visiting for the week (and, not incidentally, making it really hard for me to fully release my psychosis during the games), and said, "That'll come back to haunt them." And it did.

Today's game, though, was a different deal altogether. The Sox spotted Pedro a 2-0 lead after the first inning, but he couldn't keep them in check - the story of several Pedro vs. New York outings this year. It was ugly enough when Derek Jeter pounded a hanging breaking pitch over the Monster in the 3rd inning, but things took a turn for the surreal in the 4th. Pedro had given up a double to Hideki Matsui to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead and leave runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. His next pitch was a straight fastball at Karim Garcia's head, which drilled the Yankee batsman on the upper back as he frantically dipped out of the way.

Garcia yelled at Pedro, Pedro yelled back, both benches were warned, and Pedro went back to work. Make no mistake, Pedro threw at Garcia. I'll defend Pedro to the ends of the earth for his heart and guts, but he was pissed because he wasn't making good pitches, and he tried to drill Garcia. No doubt in my mind.

Alfonso Soriano grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, during which Garcia took out his anger at Pedro with a late, dangerous slide into Todd Walker's knees. As players from both benches moved to the top steps of the dugout, Pedro got into a verbal altercation with Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, during which it appeared that Martinez told Posada that he would throw at his head next. Yankee bench coach and Gollum understudy Don Zimmer was especially mouthy during the exchange, which ended with players from both teams milling about outside their dugouts.

Manny Ramirez led off the bottom of the 4th (sidebar: shocker that Nomar made another out. No. 5 is my favorite Sox player, but he has killed them in this series - mediocre offense from him today and they win easily.), Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens missed very high (but not really inside) with a 1-2 pitch. Manny took serious offense, walking several steps toward the mound and engaging Clemens in an academic discussion about the uses of the words "Fuck", "You", and "Off".

Both benches cleared, and trouble would have been avoided, except that the 72 year-old Zimmer charged Pedro and took a wild swing at the already-irritated Sox hurler. Pedro grabbed Zimmer around the head and shoulders and drove him to the ground. It looked awful initially, when the cameras only caught the last part of it and missed Zimmer's provocation. Pedro was defending himself, but history will not be kind to a 30 year-old athlete who injured a senior citizen. It was among the most bizarre situations in an already Dali-esque postseason for the Sox. Can't wait to see Shaughnessy's anti-Pedro rant in tomorrow's Globe.

The game calmed way down after the fireworks, with the Sox missing a golden opportunity to get back into the contest with runners on 1st and 3rd and no out in the 7th. To their credit, they did not roll over after the disturbance, and Pedro himself was unhittable after the 4th. The damage had been done, though, and the Yankees ran the table in the 8th and 9th behind Mariano Rivera to take a 2-1 series lead.

Things appear bleak for my boys, down in the series and facing a John Burkett start in tomorrow's game. By all rights, the Yankees should end this series in Boston.

But here's the thing:

I will continue to be positive about this team. I got away from it a little bit today because I was disappointed in Pedro's lack of composure, but this team will not die. They will batter David Wells in Game 4 and go into Game 5 rejuvenated. The 2003 Red Sox are not going out soft. Lotta ball left. Stay on target.

No comments: