Due to the Celtics' glorious championship run, I have been remiss in my coverage of the Yankees. The reality is that between the Celtics and the non-sports-fan girlfriend, I haven't been able to watch/listen to enough games to intelligently comment on the season. But with baseball taking center stage in the sports world and the girfriend hiking the Appalachian Trail, I've had more time to check in on the Bombers over the last month or two. And it seems like they're happy to have me back, as they've won eight in a row since the All-Star Break, including an epic 1-0 win at Fenway on Friday night and a strong 10-3 drubbing of the Sox yesterday. The win yesterday was particularly fortunate considering that I was at the game, in my Yankees gear, in the bleachers, without a Yankee ally within four rows or so. It's been raining quite a bit here in Boston over the last couple hours so who knows what will happen, and I know it's just a midseason game, but I figure this is a good time for a live blog.
8:01 - ESPN broadcast just started and the tarp is on the field. Rain delay. But it hasn't been postponed.
8:11 - They're reporting that the game should start "sooner rather than later" and the sky looks pretty good over here in Cambridge so I think we'll get some game in. Meanwhile, I'll recap a great Yankees-Red Sox weekend here in Boston. Per usual, the weekend format for Yankees-Red Sox was Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Sunday night. Friday night's opener brought an epic pitchers duel between Joba "Youkkiller" Chamberlain and Josh Beckett, and it didn't disappoint. Both pitchers took full advantage of the wide strike zone that the umpire established and stuck with from the first inning on. Joba delivered the best starting performance of his young MLB career, going 7 scoreless with 9 k's and only 3 singles and a walk. He had all his pitches going and was dominant. He also managed to get away with continuing his hilarious quasi-feud with Kevin Youkilis by sending another one in, high and tight, even getting a foul ball out of it. (Did he do it on purpose? Dunno. Maybe. Jerry Remy even said there's no way he would have done it on purpose in that situation, but maybe that's why he knew he could get away with it. You never want to see someone get hit in the head, but it is pretty funny to watch how red Youk's head gets when he's angry.) Beckett, for his part, was nasty on the corners of that wide strike zone, giving up only one run on an infield hit from the speedy Jason Giambi, who took advantage of the shift. Unlucky loss for him. The bullpens held their own, with the exception of Kyle "Small Stage" Farnsworth, who was saved by The Marinator, Mariano Rivera. Mariano got a huge 5 out save with his back against the wall.
8:41 - They've taken the tarp off the field and they're predicting a 9:00 start. I'm clearing the area around the broom closet here at the house. In case I need to get in there.
The Friday win was big in the standings, but equally as big for me as a Yankees fan taking the bus crosstown to Fenway and spending the afternoon at the park. As I said, I had my Yankees hat and nomaas.org t-shirt on so I knew that my recent Celtics fueled, hometown, love affair with the city was back on the shelf. Having won 7 in a row including a big one 13 hours before, my team's solid position would spare me the usual self-righteous Yankees Suck stuff. I met The Handsome Plumber, his brother, and their nephew at Game On for some beers and apps before the game. It was a beautiful sunny day with a late start because of the Fox broadcast, so the crowd was guaranteed to be juiced up and the scenery was guaranteed to be top shelf. We went in an hour early to enjoy the view and the roofdeck bar up above the rightfield grandstands. Enjoy them both we did. There were plenty of Yankees fans milling around but the mood was pretty mellow. I even got a fairly good natured reception/ribbing from the drunk New Hampshire meatheads seated next to me, deep in the heart of the bleachers. Pettitte was victim to an error and then gave up a walk for a tough start to the game. Both baserunners made it home to stake Wakefield a 2-0 lead. Fortunately for the boys in grey, Andy was great for the rest of the game and the Yankees were able to smack around Sox pitching to the tune of 10 runs. This, the company, the antics of the Granite State boys, and a handful of beverages, made for a great afternoon. Thanks again for the ticket, THP!
9:02 - Game on! John Lester pitching for the Sox against Johnny Damon. And ... he strikes him out on a nice curve. Up next - The Captain.
9:04 - Deep fly ball. Not deep enough. But Bobbreu follows it up with a double. Let's go A-Rod...
9:08 - Deep fly ball. Not deep enough. Caught by the always entertaining Manny Ramirez. Speaking of Manny, how about this quote he gave us today regarding his yearly desire for a trade: I don't care where I play, I can even play in Iraq if need be. My job is to play baseball. All class, Manny, as always. I don't think they need you in Iraq.
9:16 - The Dutch Dazzler, Sidney Ponson is in trouble in the first. Hits by Youk, Papi, and Manny. 1-0. Orel on Manny: "He's a little bit like a child." No shit.
9:20 - Ponson is getting hammered. The announcers are openly making fun of Manny now. And yet he scores a run that most other players would not have (because they would have listened to the third base coach). Manny being Manny. And Sox fans will put up with that other bullshit all day long. I know I would if he was on the Yankees.
9:27 - Lester, on the other hand, is looking sharp, getting soft ground balls from new hired gun, Xavier Nady, and red hot Robbie Cano. Then, .216 hitting Richie Sexson gets a bloop single. Who can figure baseball. Anyway, Lester's been tough so far this year. Tough to hate a guy who's mild mannered and recovering from cancer. And ... he strikes out Molina. Might be a quiet night in the broom closet. As far as the Nady/Marte trade is concerned, I'm giving it a medium-large sized thumbs up. They didn't give up much. Ohlendorf and Karstens have decent stuff but will probably never be better than mediocre in the majors, so I'm not too worried about it. The real trading piece was Tabata, who the Yankees had as their # 3 prospect in the minors, currently in AA ball. Normally, this would distress my conservative trading sensibilities, but he's had some disciplinary problems and there are some questions about his motivation. And he's batting .248 in AA. No problem saying goodbye to that for a good bat and a good arm in return. -- update -- Nady promptly misplays a ball in left field. It's Fenway. That'll happen. I still like the deal.
9:40 - Weak hits by Molina and Damon and the Yanks have 2 on, none out. C'mon Captain! ... and ... double play. and a Bobbreu K. Tough. Ortiz and Manny up. We need to get Sid the Dud out of there.
9:52 - Is anyone still reading this? Write "Shaka Hislop" in the comment section and pat yourself on the back if you are. This is not riveting stuff.
9:58 - Ponson allows another run and Nady allows Varitek to stretch it to a double. Suffice it to say I have not yet classified them as "Real Yankees".
10:02 - Nady strikes out with A-Rod on 2nd. fuck this guy.
10:09 - Girardi on the dugout interview says that he's going to stick with Ponson, likes what he's doing so far. What the fuck? Generally speaking, I'm a huge Joe G fan and think he does a great job managing his pitching staff. Is there something I'm missing here? Is he mailing this in to see how his team responds?
10:12 - Nady baffled by another ball in left field. This guy better start hitting if he's going to field like this.
10:18 - OK, c'mon. This is ridiculous. Papi just crushed one. Ponson is absolute garbage. And he has been from the first pitch tonight. Get him the fuck out of there, Joe. ... and Manny crushes a 415 foot fly ball out to end the inning. Joe. C'mon. Nomaas. 7-0 Sox.
10:27 - I don't know why I posted that picture. Just felt right.
10:28 - 3 singles to open the 5th for the Yankees, 3 men still on base. Jeter, BobA, and A-Rod up. Let's go Yankees! ... Jeter with a ridiculous squibber hit that gets a run in. Still no outs. If they don't run Ponson out there for the 5th, this might still be a game.
10:35 - Nice BOB by Bob to force in a run. Tough break for a whistler by A-Rod. Crap decision not to run Damon on a Nady pop fly to Ellsbury (that's minus 10 more "Real Yankee" points for Nady). And Cano grounds to the pitcher to end the inning. Bases loaded, no outs, top of the line-up, tiring pitcher => 2 runs. Should've been more. I'm going to make a burrito.
11:09 - Checked back in the 6th just as Nady failed to get Youkilis out from 2nd from shallow left field. This game is over. Back to the burrito construction process.
11:45 - Well, this has been an utterly uninteresting live blog and the good guys are losing 9-2 with 2 outs in the 9th. I thought that the Friday night game would have made a nice live blog, so I decided to try it tonight since I needed to do a Y.X.X post anyway. Baseball games are always hit or miss. Oh well. If you'd given me 2 out of 3 at the start of the weekend, I'd've taken it. And now I have no choice but to take it: Sox win. Still a strong weekend and an impressive week by the Yankees. Ponson's crapper tonight notwithstanding, the pitching appears to be stepping up to the rubber, and Nady's 0-for notwithstanding, the hitting appears to be stepping up to the plate. Or at least getting closer to the batter's box. I don't know if they have enough to beat the Sox or whichever playoff team gets hot at the end of the season all the way to a World Series title. If they're that playoff team that gets hot, they certainly do. Especially if Wang and/or Hughes can come back and be good in September/October. Losing Posada and Matsui sucks, but if Nady can hit like he has been hitting in the NL, and Robbie keeps up his regression back to his mean, and Jeter can start hitting his customary 300+, we'll be looking good.
Congrats to great Yankee closer Goose Gossage on his Hall of Fame induction.