March 21, 2005

ALCS 1: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

This afternoon, I continued watching the 2004 post-season. (Some of my pre-ALCS Game 1 posts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.) Back on Tuesday, October 12, just a little more than an hour before the game began, I posted to this blog:
This series will not be easy; these two teams are very much alike. What will happen in the next week -- and who will do it (whatever "it" is)? How low will we be brought? How high will we be raised? My seven scorecards remain blank -- rows and columns of white boxes free of markings.
I enjoyed (again) Fox's Star Wars-inspired intro, especially superimposing Johnny Damon's head on Chewbacca's body. I wondered if Schilling was exhibiting any pain or discomfort during his three innings, but I didn't see much. His ankle was heavily taped, there had been talk of inserting a metal rod in his cleat to stabilize the ankle (that wasn't done) and he had received a shot of marcain before the game. He stopped to retie his right shoe about 4-5 times.

The only evidence of any trouble was in his actual performance: a loss of velocity on his fastball (he hit 94 in the first inning, but was most often between 89-92) and bite on his breaking pitches. Schilling allowed four straight base runners to start the third inning; they all scored and New York led 6-0.

Al Leiter on Schilling as he allows hits to Jeter and Rodriguez to start the 3rd inning: Facing right handed hitters,
60% of the time he throws fastballs, 20% of the time he uses his split, 7% his slider or curve, and my point is that if he's using his curveball and slider more often than his split, then he's not feeling comfortable or something is wrong.
Or both. Mussina retired the first 19 Red Sox batters. Going through the order for the second time, he retired seven consecutive Boston hitters: K, K, K, K, K, 1-3, K. The ground out -- by Nixon -- came on a check swing.

Things changed in the 7th. Damon struck out (he was 0-for-4, with 4K) and Mussina got ahead of Bellhorn 0-2. Then, in a matter of 13 pitches, Boston had cut the lead to 8-5. Bellhorn doubled to left, Ramirez grounded out, Ortiz singled, Millar doubled, Nixon singled, Sturtze came in and Varitek homered.

In the 8th, with two on, Ortiz tripled to left center, bringing Boston to within one run, 8-7. Looking at the game (and replay) again, the ball actually never hit the wall. Matsui had it in the absolute center of his glove, but the impact of hitting the wall -- slamming into the very top of the wall -- jarred it loose. The blast was a lot closer to being the inning's third out than a game-tying home run.

Boston did have the tying run at the plate against Mariano Rivera in the 9th. With one out, Varitek and Cabrera singled, but Bill Mueller ended the game by grounding back to the mound for a game-ending double play.

Other things:

Puke: During a Jeter lovefest in the top of second inning, after Buck says that looking at Jeter you wouldn't know if it was a meaningless game in April or an October playoff game, McCarver gushes that Jeter has "two of the calmest eyes under pressure of any athlete I've ever seen."

Laugh: Matsui's double in the 3rd scored Jeter, Rodriguez and Sheffield. After Sheffield slid across the plate, he popped up right in front of Rodriguez. A-Rod went to high-five him, but Sheffield instead chest-bumped him -- hard. Rodriguez looked more than a little surprised.

Slap Forehead: Four McCarver Errors
1. Bill Mueller hit a 3-run home run to beat Rivera and the Yankees on July 24. It was actually a 2-run shot.

2. The Red Sox came from 7 runs down to win that game. Less then 30 seconds later, a Fox graphic shows that the largest deficit Boston overcame to win a game was five runs (which they did twice, including the July 24 game).

3. Consistently refers to Bronson Arroyo as "Brandon" -- at one point saying (with a slow, drama-inducing voice) that Brandon would be pitching against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. ... Later on, Buck, with something akin to sarcastic tact in his voice, asks McCarver if perhaps he knew anyone with the name Brandon Arroyo while growing up, as though that could be the only reason for the chronic mix-up.

4. Says Terry Francona would want reliever Mike Myers to come in to face a lefty hitter like Matsui or Damon.
In bottom of 8th, New York is up 8-7 and momentum is clearly with the Red Sox. Fox begins showing fans in the stands, quiet, staring worriedly at the field.
Buck: So this crowd and this feel at Yankee Stadium, is a feeling of unease by these fans who were just rolling, having fun, 'Who's your daddy' chants and all that, and now it's a one-run game with the middle of the Red Sox lineup coming up in the 9th.

McCarver: It's certainly room for thinking, from the Yankees', either the players or the fans, or a combination of the two, that if you can't win with a pitcher out there retiring the first 19 in a row and you've got an eight-run lead -- and they made it close under those circumstances -- what in the world are they going to do in a close game?

No comments: