September 20, 2004

The Long View. Not having access to a computer after Sunday's dreary loss, much of what would have been ranting dissolved with the hours of reflection and a night's sleep. What really happened in the Bronx? Boston lost 3 games off the schedule and 1 game in the standings. With 14 games remaining, the Red Sox are 4½ games behind the Yankees (who play 13 more games). Boston leads the wild card race by 5½ games. ... Things are not so bad.

There is one thing I want to bitch about, however, and that is Terry Francoma's nap during the home half of the sixth inning yesterday. Everyone agrees that Pedro Martinez had a rough Sunday in the Bronx. He allowed a 2-run home run to Sheffield in the 1st inning and a solo shot to Jeter in the 3rd. He had thrown 76 pitches in five innings. ... I fully expected Martinez to begin the 6th inning, but also assumed, with Boston trailing 3-1, that he would be watched carefully. With Mussina pitching well, Francona could not afford to let New York widen its lead.

Bernie walked on 4 pitches. With Posada coming up, I would have kept Pedro in the game. He had struck Posada out twice already. But the Yankee catcher was able to slice a shot into the first row of seats down the left field line for a cheap (and unlikely) 2-run home run. The score was now 5-1. I would have pulled Martinez right here.

Tito did not. In fact, as far as I could tell, the bullpen was silent. Pedro then walked Olerud on 4 pitches. Dave Wallace came out to talk and Mike Timlin finally took off his jacket in the pen. Unbelievable. Sierra looked at a strike and dumped a double into short left that skipped past Manny. Then Cairo singled down the right field line, bringing in two more runs and putting Boston in a 7-1 hole. There was still no one out.

And now, at least 3 batters too late (and some might say 4), here came Francona, wiping the sleep from his eyes to take the ball from Pedro. The crowd jeered him -- and you could tell Martinez had what Herald columnist Steve Buckley called his "camera of the mind" going as he left the game. Pedro: "Yes, I heard them. I know what they were doing, and I know why they were doing it. They are what they are." Perhaps he will channel that this Friday night.

Timlin allowed a bunt single to Jeter and then he hit Rodriguez to load the bases. Sheffield grounded into a double play and another run scored. Myers came in and there was a bit of jawing between Timlin (in the dugout) and Jeter (at third base). It seemed good-natured and all the reporting on it confirms that.

I'll just say that I have no problem with Jeter bunting, even though his team was up by six runs in the 6th inning. In my opinion, "having enough runs" does not exist in baseball and a team should score as much as it can when it can. If the third baseman is playing back, why not exploit it? I'd expect my team to do the same thing. Oddly enough, the YES announcers seemed to chastise Jeter for it, though they did not come right out and say it directly.

Some quotes: Pedro Martinez: "We were 10 behind and we came back when a lot of people gave up. We somehow found a way and we'll find a way again." ... Kevin Millar: "No one said this was going to be easy. This isn't deflating. This is no big deal. It's baseball. We've still got 'em coming to our place for three more games. This race is by no means over." ... Terry Francona: "They put us in the rear-view mirror a bit, but I'd be very surprised if they don't see us again. We'll come back."

Timlin was initially sarcastic: Oh, gosh. We're going to go home and we're going to bury our heads in the sand and we're never going to come out again. ... It's a loss. We're not that far out of range. We're not knocked out of the race. We're not knocked off a cliff. Nothing. We lost two games. That's how we look at it. It's just another two games we have to make up."

X-rays on Lowe's right leg showed no fractures. It was the shortest of Lowe's 108 starts with the Red Sox and the second briefest in his career (he pitched .1 IP for Seattle on July 3, 1997). ... Jason Varitek was absolutely brutal in the series, going 0-for-10 with 8 strikeouts and 2 pop-ups (he's 1-for-23 (.043) in his last eight games). ... Garry Brown looks at the possible playoff roster.

Starters for the Orioles series:

Tonight: Matt Riley (1-4, 6.33) vs. Tim Wakefield (11-9, 4.72)
Tuesday: Rodrigo Lopez (13-8, 3.88) vs. Curt Schilling (20-6, 3.40)
Wednesday: Sidney Ponson (11-14, 5.22) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-9, 4.01)
Thursday: Daniel Cabrera (12-7, 4.51) vs. Derek Lowe (14-12, 5.19)

Which means it'll be Pedro/Mussina in Fenway on Friday.

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