It Is On. 8791!
A confident Bronson Arroyo took a late-afternoon flight to New York yesterday. He planned to "kick back and chill out" before facing the Yankees at 7:05 tonight. His confidence is high. ... In his last 13 starts, Arroyo is 7-2, 3.49.
"I've been looking forward for this start since as soon as I got off the mound in Seattle. That normally doesn't happen. But with the race being so close it's definitely been on everybody's mind for sure." ... Re A-Rod: "I'm going to pitch him just like I would have pitched him even if that didn't happen. I'm probably going to pitch him away three-fourths of the time and come inside a couple of times. You never know, one [pitch] might clip him, I don't know. That's just the way it goes."
Kevin Millar is hot: In the three games against Tampa, which concluded with last night's 11-4 Red Sox win, he was 6-for-11 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. In the past 51 games, he's batting .351 (59-168) with 12 homers, 44 RBI and 36 runs scored.
Bill Mueller received a cortisone injection in his right knee Wednesday night. One report said he "might play" against the Yankees, while another thought it was possible that in Mueller's absence, Pokey Reese could start at second with Mark Bellhorn moving to third. ... Trot Nixon will probably play tonight and sit out Saturday (then play Sunday). ...
Here is a list of Boston's 20-game winners, including Curt Schilling, who became baseball's 1st 20-game winner this year (20-6). He pitched 7 strong innings last night, allowing 1 run and 5 hits. But even though the Red Sox tallied 5 runs in the bottom of the 7th, taking an 11-1 lead, Francona had Schilling (at 89 pitches) start the 8th. Curt faced 6 batters -- 5 of them reached base and 3 scored. ... Terry Adams finished up.
The win brought Boston to within 3½ games of the Yankees in the East. Anaheim scored 4 unearned runs in the 8th inning and beat Seattle 6-1 to remain 5½ games behind Boston for the wild card.
Yankees Newspaper Links
New York Post
New York Daily News
New York Times
Staten Island Advance
Shaun Powell, Newsday: "Gary Sheffield is calling these three games 'the biggest series in the world' and that's probably the case, at least until next week, when the Yankees and Red Sox play three more."
George King, New York Post: This series is "an opportunity for the Yankees to drive an ice pick into their blood rivals' necks and force them to enter October through the AL Wild Card door. ... The big question is, can they pitch with the Red Sox? ... Can Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez's dream season continue against Bronson Arroyo, who has pitched every bit as well as Schilling and Martinez lately? ... How will Lieber respond to the biggest game he has ever pitched? ..."
Mindful of the weak New York pitching, a Yankee fan friend of my wife admitted to her last week that he was "dreading" this series. Me? I have no dread. I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite awhile and my anticipation has only grown as the Red Sox whittled the Yankees' lead down from 10½ games. ... As I post this, the first pitch is less than 7 hours away. Holy shit, is it on!