August 30, 2003

New York 10-7. ... What to say? [long exhale] Upon reflection, a game like this can answer the question of what kind of fan you are. Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Optimist or pessimist? I could write about the positives in Saturday's game; I could just as easily focus on the failures. I'd be on the money both times, I think, so maybe I'll do both. And overall, after thinking it over for a few hours, I've decided not to get too hung up on this one game.

Good stuff: The Red Sox worked the count on Pettitte right away; he threw 30 pitches in the first inning. Nomar's triple over Bernie's head to the garage door in center scored two and Nomar crossed on Millar's single. The Yankee defense was shaky that inning. Pettitte threw Mueller's comebacker wide of second into shallow center (a double play likely would have led to a scoreless inning for Boston) and Jeter inexplicably did not cover second base on a force play. Varitek tapped the ball to the right side of the mound. Pettitte threw to second to force Millar, but it was Wilson (who is well on his way to sharing B.F. Dent's middle name, by the way) who covered the bag. While Jeter stood there, Wilson ran over, crossed over to the shortstop side of the bag, took the throw, and threw across his body to first. ... Bronson Arroyo pitched 3.1 innings of near perfect relief. ... The Red Sox rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th against Nelson, White and a very shaky Rivera (McCarty with a wall double and Damon with a bases loaded walk!).

Bad stuff: Pedro, Embree and Kim pitched horribly. Pedro lasted only 4 innings and was clearly still feeling the effects of last week's illness. His fastball topped 91 in the early going, but was most often at 88-90. He threw 27 pitches in the 3rd and 33 more in the 4th. Sending Pedro out to face Seattle last Monday just 3 days after he was in the hospital -- and one day earlier than he was scheduled to start anyway -- was a mistake. I'm sure Pedro wanted the ball, if for no other reason than to shut up the assorted mediots who questioned his manhood for missing the Oakland start. But someone -- Grady, Theo, Lucchino -- should have looked at the bigger picture and said No. According to one report, Pedro hadn't even begun eating solid food again until after the Seattle start. Boston had already won the first 3 games against the Mariners and it would have been wiser to let Martinez rest for the Yankees series.

Embree couldn't hit his spots at all and Kim (the Yankee Pinata) surrendered a 2-run bomb to Posada in the 9th that put the game out of reach. Nomar hacking at the first pitch from Rivera in the bottom of the 9th (and flying to left) was maddening, given Rivera's 27 pitches the previous inning and the fact that he couldn't find the strike zone with a GPS.

No Red Sox loss would be complete without the manager gumming up the works somehow. Once again, Gump was outmatched and outfoxed in the chess match of relievers and pinch-hitters. Jeff Nelson began the bottom of the 8th with New York up 8-4. Nomar doubled off the Monster and Ortiz walked; Millar forced Ortiz and Varitek was plunked in the ass to load the bases. Gump then sent up Walker to hit for Kapler and Torre brought in lefty Gabe White. It appears that Gump jumped the gun and Walker was announced first (this happened at least once earlier this season); if so, Gump's anxiousness cost the Sox a more favorable match-up. Walker -- clearly overmatched -- popped out to short. Gump then sent McCarty up in place of Nixon against the LH White. Torre countered with Rivera. Again, it seemed like Gump let Torre have the "last word." ... If Gump had waited a little bit in deciding between Walker/Kapler, Torre might have passed over White and brought in Rivera even earlier to face Kapler.

Gump is an idiot, but even I cannot believe that he would knowingly choose Walker over Kapler against a lefty specialist and McCarty instead of Nixon against Rivera. It seems obvious that Gump got burned twice, and Torre, with only varying degrees of crap in his pen, was able to map an escape. Yes, McCarty (after 2 two-strike fouls) doubled high off the wall to drive in 2 runs and close the gap to 8-6, but it was not a percentage move. After Rivera walked Damon to force in a run (8-7), I felt good with Mueller the Professional at the plate, but he whiffed on a fastball up around his nose.

The drama continues tomorrow afternoon, with Roger Clemens pitching (likely) his last game at Fenway Park. Wakefield goes for the Sox. ... I'll look through the papers in the morning; I have to believe that Yankees fans, pleased as they must be with the win, must be scared of Rivera's growing number of meltdowns.

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