I spent much of the weekend being pissed off at the Red Sox, who couldn’t win a single game against the Baltimore Orioles. Not one. In my irrational state of mind I even wondered if there might be some foul play at work. After all, what better way for Boston to get at the Yanks than by rolling over three days in a row in Baltimore?
With this poison still working its way through my system, I sat down to watch the Yankees and Red Sox on Monday evening, and it all became clear as soon as the Boston lineup flashed onto the screen: Pedro Ciriaco, Daniel Nava, Cody Ross, Mauro Gomez, Ryan Lavarnway, Jarod Saltalamacchia, Danny Valencia, Che-Hsuan Lin, and José Iglesias made up the Red Sox starting nine, and three of those guys ended the night hitting less than .200.
CC Sabathia was on the mound for the Yanks, and he showed no mercy. As he was slicing and dicing through Boston’s makeshift lineup (Dustin Pedroia was out with an injured hoof, and Jacoby Ellsbury was on the bench suffering from the 24-hour-lefty-on-the-mound flu), I missed the old Red Sox. Do you remember what an event these series were? Do you remember how every pitch carried with it the weight of the world and a world of possibilities?
I miss the swagger of Pedro Martínez, the horror of Manny Ramírez and David Ortíz, the robotic fierceness of Jonathan Papelbon, the impossible smugness of Josh Beckett, and even the nauseating arrogance of Curt Schilling. I miss the way Jason Varitek would tuck his batting helmet beneath his arm as he crossed the plate after hitting a home run, and the way Kevin Youkilis would slide his hand up and down the shaft of his bat as if he were, well, you know.
I hated all of that, but now I miss it like crazy. These Red Sox? About as compelling as milk. So even as CC was busy dismissing one anonymous BoSock after another, I couldn’t help wondering what this series might’ve been like. Worse than that, when the Yankees sent 13 men to the plate in the second inning to score nine runs and put the game on ice, my heart didn’t beat any faster.
Robinson Canó led off the inning with an absolute monster home run that ricocheted off the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar a mere 446 feet from home plate, becoming just the second player in four years to turn the trick. Three batters later Curtis Granderson laced a two-run homer into the second deck in right, and before the cheering stopped, Russell Martin backed him up with a homer of his own for a 4-0 Yankee lead.
Canó came up later in the inning and rocked a double to right center, scoring two more runs. A quick word about Canó. Even though some have criticized him this season and accused him of playing below his ability, it should be remembered that people whispered the same things about Roberto Clemente, probably for the same reason. Canó finished the game 3 for 5 with a home run and two doubles, giving him a total of 48 two-baggers and 31 homers on the season. Not bad.
Following Canó was Mark Teixeira, playing in his first game in weeks. He had struck out in his first at bat against Boston starter Clay Buchholz, but he liked something he saw from the new Boston pitcher, Alfredo Aceves, and quickly jumped on it. It was a no-doubter; the ball leapt off Tex’s bat and settled in the second deck. If Teixeira can get his swing together in time for the playoffs (or keep it together), the Yankee lineup is suddenly much more formidable.
Nothing much happened the rest of the way — a solo home run from Nava and a sacrifice fly from Saltalamacchia accounted for the Boston scoring — save for the bottom of the eighth. I’ve always loved watching players get their first hit, so I was thrilled for Melky Mesa when his two-hopper found its way into center field for his first career hit and RBI (Eduardo Núñez scored easily from second). Mesa started clapping and smiling half way down the line, and the Yankee dugout exploded behind him as they officially welcomed him to the major leagues with their cheers and good natured ribbing (Eric Chávez jokingly yelled for him to be sure to touch first base). The smile never left his face during that eighth inning.
The 10-2 Yankee win combined with a Baltimore loss gives the Bombers a tie with Texas for the best record in the league and a luxurious one-game lead in the American League East. I expect that they’ll take care of business on Tuesday and Wednesday. You can count on it.
[Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP Photo]