Games 11 & 12 - Red Sox
Yankees 4, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 4, Yankees 3
Two games into the season series between the Sox and Yankees, baseball is the winner, if I may be so trite and all-too-premature. Two games, two man-sized pitching performances, a raft of drama, enough weirdness to keep the Baseball Poets gainfully engaged, and a tasty little setup for the first prime-time Sox/Yanks tilt of 2008.
Teejay's favorite Hebrew ballplayer, Chien-Ming Wang, brought his big-boy pants to the game on Friday night, absolutely stoning the Sox in a complete game 2-hitter. Hard to do anything but offer congratulations after a performance as good as Wang's. Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was terrific, and he still threw more pitches in 6 innings than Wang fired at Sox batters for the game.
Yesterday, Josh Beckett matched Wang's mastery for 5 frames before visibly tiring and giving up 3 runs in 6 2/3. Beckett left with a 4-3 lead that remained intact until the top of the 8th, when things started going plaid. The Yanks put runners on first and second with 2 outs, and when Terry Francona summoned the barely-warm Jonathan Papelbon from the pen to face Alex Rodriguez, Fox baseball executives couldn't even bother to be embarrassed by their public turgidity.
And then the rains came. More than 2 hours elapsed before Papelbon finally threw his first pitch to the Yankee third baseman, enough time for the third-round leaders to play nearly the entire back 9 at the Masters, Fox to warm up its NASCAR coverage, the Bruins to fall behind the Canadiens, Papelbon to warm up and sit down twice, and me to cycle through a nice painkiller high.
In the series' second 'did you see that?' pitching performance, Papelbon dominated Rodriguez, blowing a fastball by the 2007 MVP to end the threat emphatically. The Sox' closer proceeded to strike out the first 2 Yankee hitters in the 9th before retiring Robinson Cano on a weak grounder to second to end the game. After, mind you, the FOX Sports team decided to switch over to the beginning of a 6-hour race while Papelbon was literally in the middle of a potential game-ending pitch. A POX on your houses.
Paps is likely out for tonight's game, and so may be David Ortiz, mired as he is in the midst of a 3-for-43 season opening drought. As Papi goes, so too goes my early-season fandom. I'm struggling to get a firm grip, a combination of personal issues, professional priorities, fractured scheduling, and other sports-related distractions pushing the Sox well behind their normal Springtime place in line. I keep telling myself not to press; that the unhinged and affirming lack of perspective will come in due time. But back there, somewhere, the seeds of doubt cast around for purchase.