"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Second Place Blues

With first place on the line at Fenway Park, the Yankees and Red Sox played a taut, tense four-hour-plus doozy. Each team had reason to expect victory, and several chances to seize it, but the Yankees handed Mariano Rivera a lead, however slim, and that usually tips the scales. Mariano didn’t hold the lead and the Yankees lost 3-2.

Sometimes your team stumbles into a late lead in a huge game in such a way that you don’t feel the edge is deserved nor secure. Game Seven in 2001 was one of those games. This was one of those games. So when Mariano took the ball and the 2-1 lead into the ninth, I felt nothing but black dread. As is often the case, he didn’t pitch poorly, but he picked the wrong ballpark to let up a deepish fly ball to left. In every other stadium in the league, Marco Scutaro’s lead off double is an out. This fly ball plunked off the Monster before it could fall into Gardner’s glove, and the Red Sox swiftly executed two sacrifices to tie the game.

On Ellsbury’s sacrifice bunt, which set up Pedroia’s sac fly, Mariano plucked the ball off one hop and spun to look at third. Eduardo Nuñez broke in on the bunt and Derek Jeter did not cover the bag. Mariano is an aggressive fielder and we’ve seen him go for the out at third, but with no one there, he had to turn and go to first. I wonder if someone was supposed to be there? Or if Boston’s bunt caught New York off-guard?

With the game tied, the Yankees were out of their “A” relievers, but Boston had Daniel Bard in reserve. He flamed a scoreless tenth and the Joe Girardi turned to Phil Hughes. Phil Hughes has an ERA around 7.00. Mariano Rivera had thrown nine pitches in the ninth. The Red Sox scored quickly off Hughes and won the game.

The epic journey that has been and will be Phil Hughes need not end tonight. But, as I’ve mentioned, I’d sooner change his name, shave his head, and place him in a safe-house in Wyoming before giving him the ball in extra-innings in Fenway Park. Girardi disagrees.

And I lost my wallet today, so I guess that means my vacation is officially over. If you’re not already burying your head in your coffee, there’s four other hours of baseball to peruse below.

The Red Sox sketched out a run in the second. García lost Youkilis for a walk. The Yankees employed their half-assed shift in which Jeter stood right up the middle and Canó played an extra-deep second base. Nuñez stayed somewhat close to third. Ortiz pulled the ball to exactly where Canó would be playing in a full shift and notched the safety. Carl Crawford followed with a 70-foot Baltimore Chop that bounced in all the wrong places and the Sox were set up with loaded bases and no outs. Freddy almost got out of the jam, but Scutaro squirted a grounder between Teix and Canó to push the lead-off walk across the plate.

Unlike other Beckett starts this season, that Yankees had base runners and made bids to tie the score. With Russell Martin on third in the third, Jeter’s two-out liner looked like a hit, but Pedroia didn’t have to move too far to snag it. With Granderson on third in the fourth, Swisher’s two-out smash looked like extra bases, but Ellsbury ran it down with a few feet to spare in that godforsaken triangle.

The Yankees finally found some two-out magic in the fifth. Eduardo Nunez sent a 1-0 cutter high into the sky and just deep enough to dink it off the light tower over the Monster. That was all they would get off Beckett, who made a several big pitches for strike outs with men on base, but at least they made him work for his dinner. He was done after six innings.

Garcia didn’t make it as long. Like Bartolo Colón in the first game of the series, he might have had a few more pitches in his arm when Girardi gave him the hook. But I thought both were about to run into trouble. Boone Logan started the sixth and brought trouble with him. Cory Wade was next in line. He found himself with bases loaded and a 3-0 count on the super-hot Ellsbury. He sucked it up and threw four strikes and got Ellsbury to pop to left to end the inning.

Matt Albers replaced Josh Beckett and got two quick outs. He looked so effective that the Boston faithful struck up a rousing chorus of “Yankees Suck” during Brett Gardner’s at bat. Like Henry V’s St. Crispen’s Day speech, “Yankees Suck” strikes a deep emotional chord in all who hear it. Perhaps Matt Albers was moved to tears and his vision blurred as he delivered a floating meatball that Gardner launched into the Red Sox bullpen. Possibly Albers was still teary when he beaned Jeter. Ah well, wait ’til the tenth, noble souls.

The Yankees had a chance to extend the lead later in that inning with newcomer Franklin Morales walking the bases loaded on nine pitches. He threw a few strikes to Canó and got him to ground out. The bullpens were fully fired up at this point. The Yankees called on Soriano for a 1-2-3 seventh. Dan Wheeler went one better in the eighth and struck out the side.

David Robertson let up a one-out single to Carl Crawford. He struck out Josh Reddick next, but the nasty deuce eluded Martin and Crawford advanced to scoring position. With two strikes on Varitek, another big breaker bounced off Martin and Crawford was 90 feet away from tying the game. I was worried that Robertson would go after Varitek with another unhittable/uncatchable curve and the Red Sox would tie it up on a strike-out-passed-ball. But Martin wisely called for heaters. Overpowered, Varitek popped out.

Papelbon stranded Gardner at second in the ninth and the Yankees asked Mariano to bundle this crude 2-1 scoreline into a victory. You know the rest.

The Yankees are 2-10 against the Red Sox this year, but this was the only game that meant anything at all to me. I still think the Red Sox will win the division and will be big favorites if they meet in the Postseason. Jon Lester is that much better than anyone the Yanks have to go at him. Winning this game wouldn’t have changed any of that, and it wouldn’t have found my wallet. But I’d be smiling just the same.



Artwork by Ando Keskküla






Categories:  1: Featured  Bronx Banter  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:12 am

Just an inexcusable loss. Why the hell was no one covering third?

And Phil Hughes. I am so fucking depressed at the idea of the people that created Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain getting their hands on the next generation of prospects.

I mean seriously. We're already talking about Banuelos' innings limit. I know its silly to question the wisdom of arbitrary innings limits after the two front line start...er rotation stalwar....er healthy young pitch.....well, innings limits helped Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain become what they are today.

2 Raf   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:14 am

Sorry to hear you lost your wallet, Jon. Having been there, I know how much of a PITA it is to get everything replaced.

3 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:16 am

[1] yeah, maybe girardi will have an answer on the play at third.

all the hughes crap, i don't even care anymore that he sucks. but he does suck, and he had no business in this game. rivera had to pitch the tenth. that was just insane managing, unless rivera came to him and said i can't go.

even then, hughes would be neck and neck with swisher on my depth chart in this situation.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:17 am

[2] thanks. i am going nuts trying to figure out when it happened.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:19 am

[3] The strangest thing about the bunt is all the busines s about the wheel play a few innings earlier

6 Raf   ~  Aug 8, 2011 1:26 am

[3] Insane managing, but completely in line with the way Girardi has run his bullpen since he became manager. Tito ran his bullpen the same way; the only reason why Bard was available was because the Sox didn't have a lead for him to set up in the 8th.

It hasn't been about deploying your "best" relievers as per the situation for quite some time.

7 monkeypants   ~  Aug 8, 2011 2:12 am

Girardi was determined to use Hughes out of the pen since they created the silly 6-man rotation. I am a little surprised he was not brought in after Garcia left early, but whatever. I stand by my prediction from a month ago, that Hughes will end the season as the eighth inning guy...well, maybe the seventh inning guy.

8 cult of basebaal   ~  Aug 8, 2011 4:19 am

Well, thankfully, my trip to the airport and subsequent adventures kept me far, far away from the end of this game.

Just an awful fucking way to blow the deciding game in a really fucking disappointing series ...

9 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 8, 2011 4:44 am

We were 0 for 10 with RISP.
Jeter, Grandy, Teix, Cano and Swisher a combined 2 for 20.
Not much offense tonight.

10 monkeypants   ~  Aug 8, 2011 5:46 am

[9] Yep, that too.

11 Marek   ~  Aug 8, 2011 7:23 am

Freddy did well, the offense was terrible. But hey, the Yankees have developed the next Jeff Weaver!

12 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 8, 2011 7:40 am

[11] Huh? Who on the team is sulking and discontent?

13 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 8, 2011 7:42 am

[9] Grandy had 3 walks though. At least he contributed.

14 Raf   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:15 am

[7] Soriano's the 7th inning guy.

15 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:17 am

I was talking to a small group of friendly Red Sox fans at my neighborhood lake on Saturday afternoon before the second game. Remember back then when it seemed like the Yankees might win a series against the Red Sox again? Long time ago, I know. Anyway my friendly neighborhood Red Sox fans, despite having been knocked back into second place for a minute, were laughing about their team's exploits against CC and Mo. They weren't gloating, or disrespecting our best pitchers. They respect them, but they don't fear them at all. They were confident the Red Sox would be able to handle our best, and win the series. They were right, of course, and this bothers me very very much.

16 Raf   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:22 am

[14] Tongue planted firmly in cheek

17 Raf   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:25 am

[15] On the flip side, I don't think Yankees and their fans feared the Red Sox, nor their starters (Beckett, Lackey, Bedard). Fans were more concerned with the Yankees starters than the Sox starters.

18 rbj   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:27 am

4 hours for a 2-1 game? Yeesh. Had a bad feeling about the game before it started. Which is why I turned off the computer and just did a bunch of channel surfing.

19 The Hawk   ~  Aug 8, 2011 8:50 am

Very disappointing game. The fact that they somehow had a lead going into the bottom of the ninth after Garcia was on the mound was amazing. Sort of predictable Mo would blow it, I'm not sure why, though I don't buy that Red Sox fans are sure the Sox can "handle" Mariano. I know historically he's a bit worse vs them but I still have every confidence in him at the end of the game. My impression is he had a rough patch against the Sox a few years ago but kind of straightened it out. (Though maybe this year is a return to those sad days.)

Sabathia, too - I really don't believe the difference between the Sox and the rest of the league is that stark. Frustrating to watch of course but I think it's mostly coincidence.

20 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 8, 2011 9:04 am

Worst loss of the year?

Worst loss of the year.

21 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 8, 2011 9:34 am

15) Wait 'til October. Fuck those guys. I don't give a shit if they are scared or not.

Those who laugh first laugh least not last.

22 flycaster   ~  Aug 8, 2011 9:39 am

I have always been certain that Mo would never again throw up and in to Scutaro after that walk-off piece he hit, what, 5/6 years ago. I guess he was trying down and away but just missed? Anyway, after a loss like that, little things annoy me. Like the way Vastergian (sp?) went on and on about how cheap Nunez's home run was, but no comment on Scutaro's wall-skimming pop-up.

Starting to get the sense that Soriano's a really strange cat...

23 Marek   ~  Aug 8, 2011 9:58 am

[22] Yeah, the announcers were so deep in the Red Sox' back pockets that [insert scatalogical reference here]. Scutaro's a hero but Nunez is lucky? W/E!

24 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 8, 2011 10:21 am

21) fuck them is right, but I'm more bothered by the reality of second place than how Red Sox fans perceive CC and Mo.

25 Fuller R   ~  Aug 8, 2011 2:18 pm

[0] Jon, there's no way Jeter was supposed to cover 3rd on that play. Once Nunez charged in, Scutaro was going to 3rd regardless of whether the ball was even put in play. What should have happened (if they wanted the lead runner) is they should have had Nunez hustle to the bag, with Mo in charge of any bunted ball from the 3rd base line to the mound (sparking another memory of the 9th inning of game 7, 2001 WS - oh, if only Brosius had thrown to first for the DP...) I think what happened last night was they wanted to make sure they got the out at 1st, not even thinking that Ellsbury would bunt it right back to Mo.

26 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 8, 2011 2:36 pm

[25] The shortstop covers third on a "wheel play" where the third baseman charges and the shortstop vacates his position to make it to third ahead of the runner. The other coverage for that play is as you suggest, that Nunez stays at home and Mo covers the thrid base side and the first baseman charges hard to cover his side.

In the ninth last night, the Yanks did neither of those things. As you correctly point out, Scutaro could have just stolen thrid since nobody was there. That suggests a blown play, but whether it was on Nunez, Jeter or the bench for not sending in a play, we don't know.

27 Fuller R   ~  Aug 8, 2011 3:36 pm

[25] Yeah, my point is there was no "other coverage" in that situation last night. I would have been shocked if they had called the wheel play with Scutaro running and no force at 3rd. Even if Jeter were able to outrun Scutaro, he would have probably had to take the throw on the fly & then apply a tag.

Either way, I think they were simply anticipating that Ellsbury would put down a good sac bunt and their only play would be at first.

28 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 8, 2011 4:10 pm

[27] if you sell out completely for the bunt, the shortstop can make in plenty of time to get to the bag for a tag. it's not like it's a footrace right? jeter starts running before the pitch, the baserunner has to wait until the bunt is down.

if the bunt & run is on, which it wasn't, the runner would race the shortstop, but that would be very risky given the situation. a pop bunt and you run yoursoelf out of the inning.

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