"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Red Sox

The Yankees and Red Sox kick off a three-game weekend series in the Bronx tonight. The Yankees are tied with the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the Orioles and 1/2 game ahead of the Red Sox. The two teams are tied in the loss column (the Yankees have one extra win). Both teams are within a win of their Pythagorean expectations, but the Yankees are a fraction of a win under and the Red Sox are a fraction of a win over, meaning the Yankees should be expected to increase their lead on the Sox given the performance of the two teams thus far this season. In their first six games against each other in April the Yankees and Red Sox each won their home series to split the six games right down the middle at three wins a piece.

The Yankees are currently five games over .500, their high-water mark for the season. The Red Sox were eight games over .500 back on May 11, having won 8 of their last 9 and 10 of their last 12 at that point. Since then they’ve gone 4-8 against the A’s, Mariners, Braves and Blue Jays, losing their series with the A’s and M’s and getting swept by the Blue Jays.

On the season, both the Yankees and Red Sox are having a mighty hard time against their intra division opponents:

Opponent New York Boston
NY/Bos 3-3 3-3
Orioles 1-5 2-2
Blue Jays 3-2 2-6
Devil Rays 2-4 4-2
Total 9-14 11-13

Here’s the roster the Red Sox bring into the Bronx tonight:

1B – Kevin Millar
2B – Mark Bellhorn
SS – Edgar Renteria
3B – Bill Mueller
C – Jason Varitek
RF – Trot Nixon
CF – Johnny Damon
LF – Manny Ramirez
DH – David Ortiz


R – Jay Payton (OF)
R – Kevin Youkilis (3B/1B)
L – John Olerud (1B)
L – Ramon Vazquez (IF)
R – Kelly Shoppach (C)


L – David Wells
R – Matt Clement
R – Tim Wakefield
R – Bronson Arroyo
R – Wade Miller


R – Keith Foulke
R – Mike Timlin
L – Alan Embree
R – Matt Mantei
L – John Halama
L – Mike Myers


R – Curt Schilling
R – Doug Mirabelli (C)
L – Adam Stern (OF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

L – Johnny Damon (CF)
R – Edgar Renteria (SS)
L – David Ortiz (DH)
R – Manny Ramirez (LF)
L – Trot Nixon (RF)
S – Jason Varitek (C)
R – Kevin Millar (1B)
S – Bill Mueller (3B)
S – Mark Bellhorn (2B)

Their offense is filled with dissapointing performances. Chief among them is Edgar Rentaria. Dubbed “Rent-a-Wreck” by the Boston faithful, he’s hititng just .257/.306/.357 (.227) and playing E-Rod level denfense at short (8 errors, 86 Rate). Second in line is Kevin Millar, who stands at .244/.342/.331 (.237) and ought to be losing more playing time to Kevin Youkilis (.343/.452/.429 – .311) than he is.

Elsewhere, Bill Mueller has a .413 OBP but his .394 slugging percentage marks an unwelcome return to his pre-Fenway levels (though he’s on fire coming into this series, of course). Manny Ramirez has eleven homers but his .503 slugging percentage is well below his career .597 mark, as is his .339 OBP (career .409). Mark Bellhorn’s career marks are much lower targets, but he’s still failing to meet them, resulting in below average production (though his fielding seems to have improved thus far this season).

Speaking of fielding, the only team in the American League with a worse Defensive Efficiency Rating than the Red Sox are the Yankees themselves. One large reason for that (other than Renteria, that is) is a sharp decrease in Johnny Damon’s center field defense. He’s actually be worse than Bernie thus far this year.

At least he’s hitting. Damon, Nixon, Varitek and Ortiz have been keeping this team afloat at the plate, though Varitek has thus far been the only player with out a severe home/road split of some kind (Mark Bellhorn has actually been far better away from Fenway, as has Youkilis).

What’s really been killing the Sox thus far, however, is their pitching. They’re fourth in the majors in runs scored, but twenty-fifth in ERA. That will happen when you only get three starts from Curt Schilling prior to the All-Star break and they result in a 1-2 record and a 8.15 ERA. Bronson Arroyo and Matt Clement have been excellent. Tim Wakefield has been solid. But beyond that, it’s been ugly.

David Wells has a 6.81 ERA due in large part to a .333 opponent’s batting average and .532 opponent’s slugging percentage, and that includes back-to-back starts in April in which he allowed just ten base runners and no runs in fifteen innings, so he’s actually been worse than those number suggest.

Staff savior Wade Miller looked ready to deliver on his promise, but then got rocked for seven runs in just two innings last night, suspending judgement for a little while.

The bullpen, meanwhile, is staggering due to the struggles of closer Keith Foulke (6.95 ERA, six homers in 22 innings). Mike Timlin has been fierce (1.19 ERA) and Matt “Sea Cow” Mantei has gotten things under control, as has LOOGY Mike Myers (who, true to form, has pitched just 6 2/3 innings in 14 appearences), but after that it’s a big mess that has resulted in a 5.08 ERA.

Tonight the Yankees will get to waive at Tim Wakefield’s knuckler while we all look for evidence of “the Real Randy Johnson.” First pitch . . . now!

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1 jalexei   ~  May 27, 2005 4:20 pm

1.  WTF? I'm IN Boston with DirecTV and I can't get this game??!! (blacked out on NESN, YES, ESPN and the Extra Innings channel) Hello??!!

2 jalexei   ~  May 27, 2005 4:23 pm

2.  Ahhh, sorry - good ole channel 38 (hit 39 by accident) I was starting to panic...

3 rbj   ~  May 27, 2005 4:24 pm

3.  Bummer dude. I've got it on ESPN and YES (via Extra Innings) But then, I am in Toledo. Weird that MLB would black it out in Boston on ESPN.

4 rbj   ~  May 27, 2005 4:29 pm

4.  Ah.

5 singledd   ~  May 27, 2005 6:42 pm

5.  It's starting to be fun to be a Yankees fan again.

6 Simone   ~  May 27, 2005 7:27 pm

6.  My stomach was in my throat during the 9th, but Mo came through. The Yankees win!!!!!!!

Have you heard about Prior's fractured elbow? The Cubs are cursed. Michael Wilbon must be freaking out.

7 Clay Caviness   ~  May 27, 2005 7:43 pm

7.  Great to see Buell Mueller strike out to end the game (though that pitch could maybe have been a bit outside).

Prior's also on my fantasy team. I hope he gets better soon.

8 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  May 27, 2005 7:49 pm

8.  That Sheffield homerun was something special.

9 Clay Caviness   ~  May 27, 2005 7:56 pm

9.  Yeah. Sheffield got all of that pitch.

10 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 27, 2005 8:34 pm

10.  I didn't get to see the game. Can someone tell me what kind of pitch Cano hit? Was it fat, or was it impressive hitting?

Also, I really don't like Sterling calling the guy Robbie. Has anyone heard or read anyone else referring to him thus? Robinson's a fine, dignified name and Sterling shouldn't go getting cute with it without the kid's permission.

And can someone explain what happened to Wakefield? They couldn't touch him for six or however many innings and then he just fell apart. But since he has no velocity to begin with, what are the effects of fatigue on a knuckler? Does it flatten out or something?

11 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 27, 2005 8:42 pm

11.  Knucklers don't fatigue. Sheff's homer came off Embree.

The pitch Cano hit was a knuckler that didn't knuckle, thus it was a BP pitch belly high and right over the plate (and he creeeeamed it).

Also, Robby seems to be his accepted team nickname (at least it's better than "Pav").

12 JohnnyC   ~  May 27, 2005 8:47 pm

12.  Torre calls him Robby. Jeter still refers to him as Canu. Of course, this might just be Derek's uncanny impression of Chris Russo which he's been working on in his spare time.

13 Clay Caviness   ~  May 27, 2005 8:49 pm

13.  Also, Wakefield walked a ton of Yankees (seven!) and gave up some pretty well hit balls (four for hits). He wasn't exactly mowing the Yanks down.

Cano did exactly what you want to do with a non-knuckling knuckler. Like Cliff said, creeeeeeeamed.

Sheff creeeeeeamed Embree, too.

14 Clay Caviness   ~  May 27, 2005 8:52 pm

14.  All the gringos get it wrong. It's Cano like "mano-a-mano".

15 JohnnyC   ~  May 27, 2005 8:57 pm

15.  It's Ca-no with emphasis on the first syllable, like Willem Da-foe.

16 brockdc   ~  May 27, 2005 11:36 pm

16.  A-Rod is a different hitter this year compared to last, plain and simple. He has really become selective (not Giambi's "please be a ball, please be a ball, please be a ball" selective, if you know what I mean), his swing is compact and level, and his head is staying right on the ball until follow-through. I've been really tough on him, and I'm glad he's proving me wrong.

Also, I wonder what Jeter said to Unit to make him smirk as they walked back to the dugout.

17 rbs10025   ~  May 28, 2005 12:35 am

17.  Stirling started calling Cano "Robbie" last weekend, after the kid had been with the team for two weeks. I can't see him waiting so long to start doing so unless it was Cano's accepted nickname.

There's precedent on the Yanks for this sort of thing, after all: Bernabe Williams.

TImes have changed since the days when Latin players got tagged with a nickname and didn't feel they could speak up and complain for a few years, as happened with e.g. Roberto Alomar and Roberto Kelly.

BTW: Do his friends call A-Rod just Al? I noticed after Thursday's game that Suzyn Waldman called him Al during a postgame interview, rather than the expected Alex.

18 Murray   ~  May 28, 2005 2:09 am

18.  Robbie. That's so 1960s baseball of them. Does anybody else have that "Bob" Clemente baseball card from 1968?

19 singledd   ~  May 28, 2005 5:10 am

19.  RJ may have had some bad luck in Arizona, but last nice he had about a much luck as statistically possible in one inning. The bad news is RJ is not pitching well at all. The good news is we are winning anyway. If he does return to form we will be hard to beat.

The Sox are down, but they still have a great team. They are without their #1 and #2, Manny is hitting .225 (that won't last), and a number of guys are underperforming. They will be near the top in September and giving us a fight. Let's hit 'em while they're down.

If either Bernie or Giambi has anything left, I don't think we will see it while they play tag=team, and have limited ABs. I say put Bernie in LF and Jason at DH against righties (and Sierra against lefties) until the All-Star break, and after regular playing time, assess whether overall, Bernie is more of an asset (or not) in LF then Womack, and whether Giambi can hit.

I just don't think either Bernie or Giambi can get hot never knowing when they are playing. These guys are both used to playing regularly, and regardless of what they say, neither will perform their best under these circumstances. Not to rag on Womack, who has been about as decent as he can be, but he has absolutely NO FUTURE in LF. HE won't be our LF next year.... so if this is Bernie's last stand, lets see how he stacks up as a regular in the lineup.

Between resting Bernie and Tino, pinch running and late innings substitutions, Womack will still see a decent amount of playing time.

Love his or hate him, we have a huge investment in Giambi, and IF he has something left, he could REALLY help this team. But we need to know what to do with this guy, and having him in his current capacity is not helping, and taking time away from Bernie, who I believe can still hit. If Jason still sucks by the break, put Bernie back at DH. If Bernie can't handle LF, put Womack back.

Give them both a consistaant position for 35-40 games, and lets see what happens. We NEED to resolve the Bernie/Giambi/Seirra situation before September and hopefully October. Regardless about what Joe says about the challenge of 'finding time for good players', we need to do what we have been doing for years... and thats have 9 regular guys.

20 seamus   ~  May 28, 2005 6:02 am

20.  singledd, i don't why Bernie is our future in LF but Womack isn't. I don't think either is and although i am a huge bernie fan i realize this. I really don't see Matsui playing center field long term and I see Matsui as our LF over next few years. Bernie needs to adapt to not being a regular at some point, why not now? Bernie needs to be mroe of a squeaky wheel if he want to be a regular. But I do think he'd be content being a part timer just to finish his career with the Yanks.

21 Simone   ~  May 28, 2005 7:56 am

21.  Cano was named after Jackie Robinson so it is definitely a very dignified name. I love watching Cano's youthful enthusiasm. He is a cutie and has a wonderful smile. He was so thrilled in his ESPNews inteview.

22 Simone   ~  May 28, 2005 8:01 am

22.  BTW, Gordon Edes has a nice article about Cano in today's Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2005/05/28/in_this_one_nothing_cano_cannot_do/

23 singledd   ~  May 28, 2005 11:15 am

23.  Re: Bernie vs Womack. I was talking about THIS year. I assume Womack will be a bench player next year, and who knows about Bernie. who is in his last contract year. The question is right now, and (hopefully) in the playoffs... who do you want to see in LF? I would like to give Bernie an opportunity to show IF he is more valuable in LF then Womack.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver