In the bottom of the ninth, Mariano Rivera struck out Johnny Damon, Edgar Renteria and David Ortiz -- all swinging -- to close it out. It was Boston's ninth defeat in their last 14 games. The Yankees won for the eighth time in nine games. Out in Seattle, Baltimore won 5-3, so the Orioles are one game out, the Yankees 1.5 back.
There is no reason to panic. I can't stand either Sheffield or Slappy, but both of those SOBs can hit the baseball. And while Schilling's velocity still seemed low, he did retire the next three guys. ... I wonder if there was any thought in the Sox dugout to intentionally walking Slappy and facing Matsui?
Gordon Edes notes the reaction to Schilling's appearance from ESPN and NESN:
ESPN2 had switched to Sox-Yankees at the conclusion of the White Sox victory over the Indians. [Rick] Sutcliffe, a former standout pitcher, immediately pointed out Schilling wasn't pushing off the pitching rubber ("no drive at all") with his surgically repaired right ankle. "I'd be surprised if he's thrown in this role again. He's not ready to pitch at this level." And, on NESN's postgame show, studio analyst Dennis Eckersley noted the damaging hits against Schilling by Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez both came on splitters. "Throwing the splitter shows there's no confidence in your gas [fastball].A few notes from watching the YES broadcast:
* It sure looked like a pink-shirted fan interfered with Trot Nixon as he reached into the stands to try and catch what turned out to be a Jason Giambi home run in the second inning, but Nixon said the fan "didn't interfere in any way, shape, or form."
* Anyone else see Joe Torre pump his fist in celebration when Mike Mussina struck out Mark Bellhorn with the game tied at 5-5 and runners at first and third in the sixth. I can't remember the last time I saw Torre do anything like that. And that was only the second out. Mussina then struck out Damon on seven pitches to end the inning. It was on Damon's at-bat that the home plate ump really showed how the strike zone had changed from the early innings. Whereas both Mussina and Arroyo had to thread a needle to get a strike called, now balls clearly on the outside corner -- like the first and second strikes to Damon -- were being called strikes.
* And Boston allowed Mussina to retire the side in order in both the fourth and fifth innings on a total of 15 pitches. He had thrown 66 pithes through the first three innings and that hacking let him to stay in the game for six innings, until the better arms in the pen could take over.
* Michael Kay is an idiot. In the first inning, he mentioned that Fenway's left field pole is now called the Fisk Pole because in the 1975 World Series, "Fisk wrapped a home run around the pole."
* Horrible plays in the outfield from Manny Ramirez and Damon. Manny's slide on Robinson Cano's first-inning double was incredibly pointless, though it did serve as a good deke that allowed Manny to throw out Cano trying for a triple. (Though looking at the replay of Manny's quick, sidearm fling to third makes me think he wasn't actually trying to throw out Cano, it was just a very accurate toss.) And Damon leapt and banged into the center field wall on a fly ball by Sheffield in the third. The ball hit very high off the wall. Even if Damon was 12 feet tall, he still would have had no chance.
* Terry Francona made a huge blunder when he allowed Alan Embree to start the eighth inning. Tito had brought in the useless lefty with one on and one out in the seventh. Hideki Matsui creamed Embree's first pitch to deep right that Nixon had to leap at the warning track to catch. Then Giambi grounded out to second. Francona should have known he had dodged a big bullet, had gotten two outs from Embree and been happy with that, and gone to either Schilling or Mike Timlin for the eighth.
But Tito played a little Gradyball and sent Embree back out. Jorge Posada lined his first pitch into the left field corner for a double. ... Now Francona made the switch to Timlin, who of course, allowed the runner to score, on a double by pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra. Stupid, stupid, stupid managing. (Embree must go, because Francona will continue to misuse him if he is out there.)
* Timlin's first pitch to Sierra was inside and low and Sierra reached down and grabbed his right knee as if he had been hit. He even hopped up and down a little bit. No one was fooled.
* The five Red Sox relievers -- Mike Myers, Chad Bradford, Embree, Timlin, and Schilling -- faced one, two, three, four, and five batters, respectively.
In addition to the back page of the Daily News, check out the Post, which splashed A-Rod across both the front and back pages. (link only good for today)
Chien-Ming Wang was put on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder, but because Wang was sent to an orthopedic surgeon after an MRI, there were rumors of a season-ending torn rotator cuff. Tim Redding will start tonight in Wang's place. The Yankees are eyeing Colorado's Shawn Chacon and maybe Al Leiter.
Joe Kerrigan is now an advance scout for the Chokers. Kerrigan will not be part of the uniformed coaching staff, though I wonder if he is a possible replacement for Mel Stottlemyre.
Wells / Redding at 7:00.