Red Sox - 000 001 042 - 7 10 2During the bottom of the ninth inning, as Jonathan Papelbon weaved and bobbed and seemed to be slipping on the high wire, an old Richard Thompson song popped into my head. It was back in 1983 and he was singing about something other than baseball, but the line has stayed with me: "My heart was beating like a song by the Clash".
Yankees - 020 120 001 - 6 8 2
You wouldn't think that a game on May 18 could make a fan of an underachieving team solidly in fourth place and coming off its most demoralizing loss of the year feel like it was actually October 18 with the pennant hanging in the balance.
But with Randy Winn in the box with two outs and the tying run at third and winning run at second, in a game that I had emotionally tossed the metaphorical white towel in on after seven innings and a 5-1 Yankees lead, only to be utterly delighted and reawakened by the sight of Joba Chamberlain flat-brimming his way to allowing four Boston runs before recording a second out (though both outs were gifts, as Victor hacked on 3-0 and Ortiz literally walked to first watching his fly ball not leave the park), and then having Daniel Bard slam the door on Hideki Okajima's little two-out mess in the eighth and preserve the tie, and then watch the Sox rally for two more runs against Mariano Rivera, a key play of which was Marcus Thames dropping Marco Scutaro's pop-up in short right and literally kicking it into right-center, then Jeremy Hermida (who had replaced a possibly injured J.D. Drew after Drew had hit a key double against Joba), clearly looking at strike three on a 1-2 pitch inside, which would have ended the inning with the game 5-5, but for some reason not having the plate umpire ring him up, whacking a two-run double far over Winn's head in left field, and then hoping Bard would return for the ninth, but no, it's Papelbon, yikes, and Slappy reaches as his ground ball lazily rolls past Scutaro's back-handed glove into left, Cano doubles, it's now 7-6, Cano is sac'd to third and Thames walks (but not before ball 2 is up and not really that far in, but Thames backs away quickly anyway and glares out at Bot; a fight - now? in the rain?) and Pena runs for Thames at first and goes to second as Miranda smacks a hard, low snake to Papelbon, who twists and turns (seemingly in panic, though that was probably a bit of projection by me) before throwing to first, and so now Winn is up and the count is 2-1 and here's where my heart is thumping like it's the ALCS, Winn fouls off a pitch, takes ball three, full count, and if he walks, the bases will be loaded for Jeter, who hasn't done a thing all night, but it's still not a situation I would willingly ask for, and Winn fouls off another 3-2 pitch, and then suddenly, he swings and misses. And immediately, everything stops. It's actually slightly disorienting. Winn is out, it's the third out, the inning is over, and that means the Sox win the game. Jesus, can I take a breath now?
And it turns out that the Thompson line in "Tear-Stained Letter" is: "My head was beating like a song by the Clash". ... I like what I remembered much better.
I'm not sure two other games, without the added intensity of extra innings, could offer as much drama and tension as this little mid-May series did. The remaining 122 games of the regular season will unfold however they do, but after tonight, you should neither need nor demand any additional evidence of this Red Sox team refusal to quit. They will claw and scrape and battle to the very last out. (And shame on me for assuming this one was over.)
An impartial observer watching these two games would come away thinking baseball is the most amazing, exhilarating, action-packed, heart-stopping, emotionally-draining game ever devised. And, of course, she'd be right.
Start of game delayed by rain. 8 PM start expected.
Mike Lowell is very frustrated, says he has thought about asking for his release.
Josh Beckett / CC Sabathia
It's raining in New York.
Lost amid the shitastic ending last night was some good hitting: Victor Martinez was 0-for-his-last-19 before he homered from both sides of the plate, the first time a Boston player has done that since Jason Varitek on August 16, 2005 (crazy linescore -- and it was the second start/game of Jonathan Papelbon's career).Scutaro, SS
David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and J.D. Drew also went deep. Drew's dong was especially big, cutting New York's lead in the fifth from 6-2 to 6-5. That rally started after Phil Hughes retired the first two batters on only three pitches.
B-Ref: "Are The Red Sox Toast?"
If you need it: "Vent Thread: Where SoSH Proves It Can't Handle Mediocrity"