Tim Wakefield --on three days rest -- just didn't have it. The solo home runs by Matsui and Slappy in the third and fifth, respectively, deepened Boston's hole, but were not reason enough to yank Wakefield from the game. That has been his problem in several starts. The solo home runs start to add up after awhile, but it's often not a clear sign of trouble. Besides, who would have come in? DiNardo? Gonzalez? Francona was correct to stick with Wakefield (though pull him if he really faltered) and hope the bats woke up.
They didn't. Randy Johnson got his shit together after a shaky start and pitched 7.1 good innings. (People think Pedro is a diva? Man, this guy is the biggest ball-and-strike whiner I've ever seen.) If the Sox had been able to get it him a bit more, there was a decent chance he'd go postal. ... They helped him out by hacking early in the count. Johnson retired the Sox in order on five pitches in the fifth; the third (12 pitches) and seventh (13) were also quick innings. And Sheffield made two diving catches, which, if they had fallen for hits, might have altered the outcome.
Also, Francona's managing seemed less urgent today. In the sixth, trailing 7-2, he let Millar and Mirabelli bat (even though Wakefield was out of the game).
But thanks to Chicago's 4-3 win in Cleveland, this loss doesn't hurt as much as it would otherwise.
If Boston wins, they win the wild card.That's it.
If Cleveland loses, Boston wins the wild card.
If Boston loses and Cleveland wins, they play a playoff game on Monday at Fenway.
Manny hit home runs #43 and #44, two absolute bombs -- one that landed on the roof of the Cask (true?) and one that hit the back wall in dead center. Graffanino got three hits, Damon walked twice and stole a base, and the team got nice relief appearances from Stanton, DiNardo and Hansen. ... But the bats were quiet. The Red Sox have totaled only 11 hits in these two games.
By the way -- Matsui should have been called out in the eighth and the Yankees' last run should not have scored. Rule 7.08 states that any runner is out when "He runs more than three feet away from a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball."