I haven't had that much sleep that's the best I can come up with.
I think Red Sox and Yankees fans are all dumbfounded over what they've
just witnesses. Sunday night's game I missed, falling asleep reading my
son a few stories, although I had dreams of the Red Sox tying the
score. Although the real game departed from there; my dream included
the Yankees decked out in white pinstripe business suits (and no, the
dream did not include Michael Kay's midgame uniform description), as
well as the tying run being scored by Dana Snow, the first female
pinch-runner in MLB history, as far as I know.
Now the Yankees in bussiness suits is by no means much of a stretch of
the imagination, based on their usual efficiency and productivity in
slapping beatdowns like Donald Trump handing out pink slips. As far as
Dana Snow, I don't know any Dana Snow. I marginally knew a Dana in high
school who drove a Fiero, but she had different last name. Snow could
be her married name. But who knows, its hard to score with a Fiero.
Anyway I was prepared to be calling for Terry Francona head on a
platter with some fava beans and a nice chianti, but despite his best
efforts, the Red Sox still won. He must have known something the rest
of the world didn't. But I hope he counted his blessings on 10 fingers,
and realized he doesn't have an 11th.
I had a running list last night of management miscues, but a Sox
victory and good night's rest has shortened it down a bit. Here's a few
(1.) The score was 4-2 with no outs and Johnny Damon comes up after
Bellhorn led off with a double, and relieving Mussina from the game,
much as he did to Mussina in Game 1, ending the perfect game that
evening. Damon's about 1-for-122 so far in this ALCS, and is typically
a good bunter. But since the Red Sox led the majors with the fewest
sacrifice bunts (12), Damon swung away, and if memory serves me
correctly, struck out swinging. Needless to say the runner did not get
over, and did not score.
Later in the game, Bellhorn failed to buunt a runner from 1st to 2nd,
but then ripped an 0-2 pitch for a single. This time Damon got the bunt
sign, and promptly popped out to Posada.
To be fair, I can't lay the blame on Francona for lack of execution in
the second example, but for not giving a bunt sign with Bellhorn on
second, I don't know. I know they were down 2 runs, but I've seen
enough Yankees-Red Sox games to know that almost every inning has a run
scoring opportunity, so let's take one at a time. Just as the Res Sox
had to look at this series day-by-day, down 3-0.
(2.) Cabrera's on first. Posada gets hit in the hand with a foul pitch and is visited by the trainer.
Cabrera's a fast runner, will steal close to 20 bases a year in a full season, why not put him in position to score on a single.
(3.) Dave Roberts is a great asset to this club, and showed everyone
why when he rattled Tom Gordon and went from 1st to 3rd on aTrot Nixon
single. But I don't like putting in a pinch runner on first base for
Trot Nixon, in a close late inning game. Trot's had some big hits
against New York in the past, and taking two starters out of the game,
when the spectre of another extra inning ballgame is looming in the
shadows, could come back to bite you in the ass.
Turns out it didn't. Kapler even made a nice play on a Jeter fly hit to left.
(4.) Arroyo came in and pitched lights out to the top of the order,
striking out A-Rod and Sheffield. Then didn't come out for the next
inning. There may not be a tomorrow to save this guy for. There's no
“in case Schilling isn't healthy enough” just yet. You got to win one,
before you win two. and at this point each day is another day to wake
up and just win one.
But the Boston bullpen combined for eight scoreless innings, as a
whole. This teams has more rubber arms than Plastic-Man, Elongated Man,
Dr. Reed Richards, and Stretch Armstrong combined. Mike Myers came in
to start the next inning and struck out Matsui on 4 pitches.
(5.) Myers a lefty, pitches to one batter, Matsui (see results above),
and is replaced by another lefty in Alan Embree. A situational lefty is
still a lefty, but as I said before 8 scoreless innings by Red Sox
Now I'm seeing a pattern, although originally I thought I'd be
lambasting Francona, someone could probably make a good argument that
he did a great job last night.
Let's just say that luck was on his side. I got 2 more and I'm not sure they can be explained away.
(6.) David Ortiz attempting to steal second. 4 stolen bases in his
career, and Francona sends him now. Even if it's a lie, please tell me
someone missed a hit-and-run sign. Or that Ortiz went on his own.
You know what, don't tell me anything. David Ortiz doesn't deserve
anything less than hero status right now. And if he thinks he's Rickey
Henderson (circa 1984, not 2004) then he just might be.
Posada (ROTFLHFAO) fired a ball to Bernie Williams in center that M.J.,
I mean Derek Jeter intercepted and layed the tag on the mercurial
Replays show that Ortiz right hand looked like it beat the tag.
Perhaps the umpire used his David Ortiz Strat-O-Matic card and some
dice to determine the call, or maybe even more careful review may show
that Jeter's tag nipped the helmet before landind square in the back of
But about 2 innings prior, the second base umpire might have missed the
call when the troubled Johnny Damon, attempted to steal second after an
infield hit. Replay showed Damon to be in just before Jeter's tag with
the wrist, then the heel of the glove.
At this point, I'm thinking, the Sox are not supposed to win this game.
It would have happened already. Perhaps the ghost of Ted Williams is at
war with the ghost of Joe Dimaggio, in the dark recesses of
Cooperstown, (no museum's open at 11:00 PM that I know of), vying to
battle the Babe to save the entire Red Sox Nation from eternal
damnation and reverse the curse.
And I thought things weren't looking good for New England as I watched #7 unfold.
(7.) Varitek catching Wakefield. This was like watching a game of “hot
potato” at a convalescent home. I KNEW I was watching how the Red Sox
were going to lose this baseball game.
I thank God that my Red Sox fan father, born in 1925, decided to shut
off the game just before Varitek hit the game-tying sacrifice fly to
center. Because with his multiple bypass surgeries, I'm not sure he
would have made it through this.
Varitek only caught Wakefield for about 2 innings this season. doug
Mirabelli catches Wakefield's starts to give Varitek a day off. But
your starting catcher doesn't typically get days off in the ALCS. But
sometimes they should.
Especially when marathon games follows marathon game on consecutive nights, and catching knuckleballers just ain't your bag.
3 passed balls. The first on a strikeout of Gary Sheffield. Of course,
Sheffield reached first safely, that's the way the script should read.
But Wakefield shook this off, and shook off every dropped pitch by
Varitek that didn't result in a passed ball.
Mirabelli desperately needed to be in this game. I know Francona wanted
Varitek's bat in the lineup. I know that Varitek, who has hit miserably
against Mike Mussina drew a walk batting right-handed against Mussina
to score the first Boston run. And yes, I know it was Varitek who hit
the sacrifice fly to tie this game.
But, if each passed ball is worth 90 feet, and you have 3 passed balls,
simple algebra tells you the 4th passed ball puts a runner on home
plate. And then you would most certainly like to have Varitek's bat in
After the first passed ball, every pitch by Wakefield was excruciating.
But it wasn't his fault. Maybe it was his fault that he was that good,
consistently throwing strikes. You knew one of those balls, that always
hit Varitek in the glove, would eventually score the winning run.
Francona had time to realize even before the 2nd and 3rd passed balls,
how badly this could end. But he stuck with Varitek for better or
worse. Even intentionally walking Posada after a passed ball had moved
Matsui from first to second.
Francona knew that Varitek would catch just enough balls to give Ortiz
another shot at becoming hero and sending the last remaining Nomar
jerseys in Boston to the Salvation Army.
I'm just happy we've got at least one more game.