Jason Giambi crushed a three-run home run in the first inning and the Yankees built an early lead on their way to an 8-4 victory last night in Baltimore. Aaron Small worked out of a jam in the third inning and pitched another credible game as he upped his record to an improbable 10-0. Hideki Matsui added a two-run homer, and a fine catch (the kind he normally doesn’t make), Gary Sheffield had an RBI, and Alex Rodriguez had two hits, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. There were some unsure moments courtsey of the bullpen, but that is nothing new. When Joe Torre came out to the mound in the eighth inning to replace Taynon Sturtze he looked as like he was on the verge on a heart attack. Sensing his anxiety, Derek Jeter rubbed his shoulder to let him know that everything would be alright.
The Yanks beat the Orioles three times in the last four days and seven-of-eight times since last week. They remain one game ahead of the Red Sox who defeated the Blue Jays 5-4 last night thanks to some familiar heroics from David Ortiz, who tied the game with a solo home run and then drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a single. Ortiz has repeatedly come up big for Boston this year, but this game just might have saved their season. The Indians also won, while the White Sox clinched the AL Central. The Red Sox and the Tribe are tied for the lead in the wildcard race.
The Yankee and Red Sox begin the final series of the regular season tonight in Boston. It is downright cold this morning in New York and the weather this weekend promises to be fitting for October baseball. Amazingly, these two proud teams continue to live up to the hype of their rivalry, though at this point, much of the sensational media coverage has become not just depressing but offensive. The backpage of The Daily News reads, “Out For Blood,” the banner on the backpage of the Post, “Brawl for it All,” while the front page of El Diario goes, “Duelo A Muerte.” And that’s just in New York. It’s as if they want something vicious and violent to go down. Bloodlust, like comedy, is not pretty.
Regardless, the tension will be exquisite for Yankee and Red Sox fans alike. Here’s hoping that nothing too ill happens in the stands, that no player makes a critical error to decide a game, and that ultimately, the best team wins. Last night seemed like the most important game of the year for the Yankees. Now, we can say the same thing about tonight’s game. The Bombers need to win two-of-three, the Sox need the sweep, and both hope that the White Sox rough up the Indians.