… otherwise, it wouldn’t end. The Red Sox stopped their skid today, thanks mostly to an alarmingly poor performance from Phil Hughes in a sloppy game all around, with a 9-6 win.
The other ending? Manny Ramirez’s career. Baseball strangest superstar announced his retirement today, and in what is likely no coincidence, also reportedly tested positive for “a banned substance” during spring training. It was his second strike, and would’ve resulted in a 100-game suspension had he not won an appeal. Joel Sherman reports that he told the Rays he needed to leave for family-related issues. He wasn’t the most reliable guy, but for years on end he was amazing to watch. It’s a sad way to end such an impressive career, but maybe fitting too. Although I think it’s important to remember that we still have very little concrete evidence of how much performance- enhancers of the kind Manny may have taken actually impact performance. Will we ever know if he’d have been as great without them? If not, how do we figure out how to view him? I’m not as appalled by steroids as some fans and writers are, but I do hate the uncertainty it injects into certain players’ careers. I think I would still vote Ramirez into the Hall of Fame, but I doubt that a majority of writers will agree, and I can understand that point of view too.
Back to today’s game, although it’s one most Yankee fans won’t want to dwell on. Two games would be far too small a sample size to draw any dire conclusions about Phil Hughes… except his velocity drop is strange, and seems to me to indicate some sort of injury. Neither the Yankees nor Hughes has indicted any such thing, that’s just my instinct, because 24-year-old starters don’t typically just lose 3 or 4 mph off their fastball in the space of an offseason for no reason. So, yes, I am concerned.
Things started well enough for the Yankees, with Robinson Cano’s double plating Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner for an early lead. But it was clear from the start that Hughes didn’t have it; not only his velocity, but his control, as pitchers were flying across the middle of the plate. Dustin Pedroia homered in the first, and after the Yankees tacked on another run in the next inning – I should point out here that John Lackey was also awful for the Sox — Boston batted around, piling up 5 runs via death-by-singles for a 6-3 lead. Bartolo Colon came in for Hughes in the third and was actually quite effective, much to my surprise. But although the Yankees did eventually tie the game, with one run over each of the next three innings including an Alex Rodriguez homer, and Colon kept the Sox to one earned run over 4.1 innings, it wasn’t enough. Boone Logan was ineffective again in the 7th, the Sox made in 9-6, and the Yankees couldn’t muster anything much against Boston’s pen. So, the Red Sox are the owners of a shiny 1-6 record and we’ll try this again tomorrow.
In the meantime, pour some out for Manny, who was many things but certainly never dull.