The honeymoon is over! ... Hey, we're only a half-game out of the wild card. ... Alright, how about: It's a shame the Yankees couldn't have done that in game 4 ... or 5 ... or 6 ... or 7.
The cold night (low 40s) affected both pitchers' breaking stuff, hurting Wells more than Johnson. The Fat One allowed 10 hits and one walk and was also undone by lackluster fielding in both the infield and outfield. However, he allowed New York's leadoff man to reach base in the first four innings, he hit two batters (both Giambi, actually) and balked a run home. He departed in the fifth -- the Yankee Stadium crowd booed him; I'm surprised they didn't cheer -- after throwing 80 pitches.
After that, everyone in the bullpen except Keith Foulke was used. Mike Myers got an important double play to end the fifth when the game was still close and Mike Timlin tossed a scoreless seventh (though he needed 25 pitches to do so). Blaine Neal and Matt Mantei were less impressive.
Johnson was no great shakes: his 6-5-1-2-6 line was certainly not prime Unit, but he was able to get by with his fastball (which is far better than Wells's) and a decent slider. Things looked good in the top of the second when Ortiz opened with a double to right, Millar nearly hit one out -- Matsui made a leaping, Mannyesque catch at the wall in left -- and Jay Payton singled in the first run of the season. Johnson then walked Mueller, but wriggled out of trouble. Boston didn't get another guy past second until there were two outs in the sixth.
The bats were quiet. The top five -- Damon, Renteria, Manny, Ortiz, Millar -- went 1-for-18 (with only four balls hit out of the infield). Tanyon Sturtze pitched two perfect innings (with three strikeouts) in relief. Varitek had three of Boston's six hits. ... Chris Snow of the Globe wrote an excellent game story, reminding me of the great work Buster Olney did covering the Yankees for the Times in 1998-99.
ESPN allowed the local stations to use their own guys, because I was stuck with Kay-Kaat-O'Neill on MFYES. They managed to have a steroid discussion without mentioning either Giambi or Sheffield. That was impressive. And while it was nice to hear Kay refer to the "World Champion Red Sox" several times, he was still insufferable. ... I spied this Kay quote in A Tale of Two Cities (Tony Mazzarotti and John Harper): "Watching the Red Sox celebrating on the field after Game 7, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. I guess even after all these years in this business, that got to me. I still can't believe it happened." ... And he still goes on and on (and on) about how impartial he is.
A couple of SoSHers at the game mentioned that last night was the first time they had been at Yankee Stadium and not heard the "1918" chant. Deweys New Stance said "that was the most noteworthy thing about the evening too ... very strange not to hear it after 29 years ... strange in a really nice way." All I saw on TV was a couple of "2090" signs. I'll be at Tuesday's game, ushering in the Matt Clement Era, so I'm curious about the in-person reaction.
Off to see Damon at his book signing at Rockefeller Center this afternoon.