Monday, April 26, 2004

Games 16 Through 18 - Red Sox
Dogs and Cats Living in Sin

Red Sox 11, Yankees 2
Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (12)
Red Sox 2, Yankees 0
Record: 12-6

I mean, seriously, a sweep of the Yankees? In the Bronx? With Joe Torre pulling out all the stops and flatly telling the media that this was an important test for his team? Never happen.

But it happened, and not just that, it happened with the Sox being clearly the better team in all phases of the game, but not nearly playing up to their potential - at least on offense. Yankee hitters went 15-99 in the series. The Sox bullpen did not yield a single run, stretching their string of scoreless innings to 24 2/3. The Yankees were beset by shoddy fielding, on-field miscommunication, lack of timely hitting, and mediocre relief pitching - at least when it mattered. The Sox, though they were 0 of 19 with runners in scoring position in game 2, and though they only mustered 4 hits in game 3, found a way to win. It got so bad for the Yankees that the classy fans in the Bronx booed Derek Jeter, mired as he was in the midst of an 0 for 26 tailspin, capped off by three strikeouts yesterday. As Yankee broadcaster Hanoi Michael Kay blurted, "That's like booing Santa Claus". And if Santa Claus was the overrated, overpaid, second-best shortstop on the North Pole Reindeer, he'd be right.

Sox fans are conditioned to believe - to know - that the Boston 9 will find a way to lose games like these, especially against the Yankees. Not in April 2004, even (cue broken record here) without Nomar, Trot, and B.H. Kim. To steal the noted wisdom of Theodore Logan, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K".

Nearly every player on the Sox roster contributed to the sweep, from superstar Manny Ramirez' key extra-base hits in the last two games, to Mark Bellhorn's game-winning sac fly in game 2, to Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, and Scott Williamson dominating in their appearances, to Pokey Reese's critical turn of a double play on Bernie Williams with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of a tie game in the second contest, to great starts from Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, and Pedro Martinez, to Bill Mueller's game-breaking three-run homer in the first game, and on and on.

The Sox aren't hitting, but they sure are winning, and they sure as hell look like they expect to be winning, and I'll take that formula all year long.

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