The Yankees shut-out the Red Sox this afternoon, 5-0, completing a timely three-game sweep. New York now trails Boston by five games, and this one got contentious before all was said and done. Chien-Ming Wang took a no-hitter into the seventh inning (thanks, in part to three stellar fielding plays by Jason Giambi), and out-dueled Curt Schilling, who was excellent for Boston. Robinson Cano drilled two solo dingers off Schilling, both to left center field, the only runs allowed by Boston’s starting pitcher.
After Kevin Youkilis reached on a throwing error by Derek Jeter to start the seventh inning, Mike Lowell slapped a single to right for Boston’s first hit of the game. J.D. Drew followed and hit a ground ball to Alex Rodriguez, who lunged to tag Youkilis, before throwing on to first. Drew was called out at first on a close play as Youkilis and Lowell advanced. Rodriguez had missed the tag but soon he, and manager Joe Torre, were arguing that Youkilis had run out of the baseline. (It didn’t look as if he was that far out of the baseline when he passed Rodriguez, but his momentum carried him onto the infield grass a few steps later.) The umpires huddled and the call was overturned. Terry Francona, already having a tough day, came out, argued, and was run from the game.
I was watching the game with a friend who said, “Youkilis got himself out because he looks so awkward.” Wang struck out Jason Varitek, got out of the jam, his day complete.
Joba Chamberlain did not allow a run in the eighth but didn’t look particularly sharp. He could not control the slider. Still, after the Yankees scored three times in the bottom of the inning—two runs scoring on an errand throw by Varitek—Chamberlain, rules be damned, was still pitching. He retired David Ortiz on a fly out and then buzzed two consecutive pitches up and over Youkilis’ head. There was no warning from the umps. Instead, Chamberlain was thrown out of the game. The Red Sox players, notably, Josh Beckett, hollered at Chamberlain as the rookie pitcher walked off the field. “If that young man was trying to get our attention,” Francona said later, “he did a good job of it.”
Edwar Ramirez replaced him and got the final two outs to preserve the shutout.
After the game, Youkilis told reporters:
“You know, two balls going over somebody’s head at 98 mph, I don’t know. I didn’t see any other pitches going that far out of the strike zone. Those balls were pretty close to the head. There were a couple of nods here and there. Who knows what it really meant? Ask him what his intent was. He’s going to probably tell you he didn’t mean to throw those. It’s one of those things where only one person, or maybe a couple people on their team know.
“That’s the second time. Scott Proctor hit me in the head. Coincidence? I don’t know. It doesn’t look good. When two balls go at your head and the guy has a zero ERA and is around the strike zone pretty good, any man is going to think there’s intent to hit him in the head.”
So, the Red Sox are angry about the Youkilis call in the seventh, about Chamberlain throwing at him in the ninth, and most importantly, about getting swept. Boston still has a healthy five game lead, but there is sure to be more theatrics, posturing and general huffing and puffing the next time these two teams meet in Boston in a couple of weeks. (What a cheery thought.) Welcome to the Rivalry, Mr. Chamberlain.
In the meantime, it was the best possible outcome for the Yankees. They defeated Boston’s three best pitchers and swept a series that needed to be swept. Now, here’s hoping they don’t lose site of things this weekend against the Devil Rays.
UpdateThe Mariners rallied to tie the Indians in the top of the 9th but lost the game when Rick White issued a bases loaded walk to Kenny Lofton with two men out in the bottom of the inning. The Yanks are now alone in first place for the wildcard, tied with Seattle in the loss column.