On Tuesday night David Ortiz hit a massive home run and honored it with a party at home plate. He had so much fun, he did it again in his first at bat on Wednesday night, smashing a two-run, two-out drive deep into right field. This time he held the dinger a private affair in the dugout, but nevertheless set the tone for a route for the Red Sox. There was some pre-game blather about beaning Ortiz, but I guess Burnett didn’t read the back pages this morning. And anyway, I doubt he could have hit him even if he wanted to.
The Red Sox stomped on the Yankees, Burnett and Francisco Cervelli’s private parts until the score was 7-0. Then the Yankees finally solved the knuckle ball and began chipping away in the fourth. They knocked out Tim Wakefield and the score was 8-5 when they loaded the bases in the sixth for Derek Jeter. But he couldn’t keep the heat on former Yankee Alfredo Aceves and tapped into a rally-killing double play.
The double play was still in order because Brett Gardner couldn’t find the errant ball on a wild pitch and none of the runners advanced. For shame. In past years, Gardner scored over 45 per cent of the time he reached base. This year, he’s down to 39 per cent, and I have to think he’s spooked on the bases.
In a year where rousing, come-from-behind victories are the rarest breed, the Yanks’ fate was likely sealed with the double play. But Red Sox added three more with two outs in the ninth to put it beyond reach. The final, embarrassing scoreline was 11-6. Hello second place.
Even after getting rocked tonight, the Yankees have the best run differential in baseball by a hefty margin. They have had several heartbreaking blown leads and only a few miracle comebacks, so their actual record is less impressive than their statistics would suggest. The Red Sox have a more ordinary track record, but without the bad luck, they’ve got an actual record that matches their output. The result is a virtual tie atop the American League East, and one would think, two fairly even teams.
The results on the field have been anything but even. The Red Sox have dominated the Yankees this year with seven wins and only one loss. It’s annoying, disgusting and depressing but it’s not definitive. We know it’s not definitive because in 2009, the Yankees lost the first eight games against the Red Sox yet clawed back and ended the season with nine wins apiece. And then won the World Series.
Whether the 2011 Yankees may be able to pull off a similar turnaround remains to be seen, but either way, the season doesn’t end tonight. They send out their best pitcher tomorrow night against one of their biggest villains. I’d like to see them pull themselves off the mat and hand CC an early lead. Then I’d like to see CC hand Mariano a late lead. And then I’d like Mariano wrap up a win and reclaim a share of first place. It won’t seem so impossible once they do it.