Monday, July 9, 2012

Yanks Close 1st Half with 3 of 4 at Fenway


So here we are, at the metaphoric (though past the numerical) midway point of the Major League Baseball regular season for 2012.  With the final Yankee series of such being at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox, the old enemy, The Scum.

For the most part, it has been a satisfying season.  And, for the most part, it was a satisfying series.

On Friday night, the Yankees scored 5 runs in the top of the 1st.  And then the Red Sox scored 5 of their own in the bottom half.  And those of us who know these teams well, especially against each other, though, "Whoa, here we go again!" Once again, Fenway turned into a pinball machine.

The Yankee 5: Derek Jeter led off with a single.  Curtis Granderson singled.  Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch by Josh Beckett -- although I don't think even Super Punk would intentionally hit a guy to load the bases with nobody out, especially with Robinson Cano coming up.  Then Beckett walked him.  (1-0.) Then Mark Teixeira singled.  (3-0.) Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly.  (4-0).  Raul Ibanez singled.  And Eric Chavez hit a sacrifice fly.  (5-0).

The Red Sox 5: Hiroki Kuroda allowed a leadoff double to Daniel Nava.  A wild pitch moved him over to 3rd.  Ryan Kalish hit a sacrifice fly.  (5-1.) David Ortiz, the big fat lying cheating bastard, singled.  Cory Ross reached on a Chavez error.  Adrian Gonzalez doubled.  (5-2.) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the man with the longest surname in baseball history (14 letters), hit a home run.  (5-5.)

The Yankees scored a run in the top of the 2nd.  And the Sox tied it up in the bottom of the 2nd.  6-6.

Oy vey...

The Sox took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the 5th.  Things were starting to look bleak.

But these are the New York Yankees.  Anything can happen.  And this was Fenway Park.  Anything often does happen.

Here was the anything in the top of the 7th on Friday night: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had brought Andrew Miller in to relieve.  And he walked the leadoff man, Granderson.  Then he walked A-Rod.  He struck out Cano, and then Bobby V brought in a new pitcher.

What's with Bobby? You don't take a pitcher out right after he struck a guy out!

Especially if it's Vicente Padilla, the former Phillies washout who, it now appears, has what former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee would call "an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass." 

Teix nearly hit one out, sending a triple to the center field wall.  8-7.

Padilla stuck out Swish, but Ibanez (again: The Phils, a pretty smart organization these last few years, gave up on this guy) doubled home Teix.  9-7.

Valentine got Padilla out of there.  In came Scott Atchison.  No good: Chavez singled home Ibanez.  It was 10-7, before Atchison ended the carnage by striking out Martin.

Cody Ross got one back with a home run in the bottom of the 7th, but that was it.  Yankees 10, Red Sox 8.

WP: Boone Logan (believe it or not, he's 4-0).  SV: Rafael Soriano (20).  LP:Miller (2-1).

*

Saturday featured a day-night doubleheader, due to an early-season rainout.  In 1948, the Boston Braves (now in Atlanta) had a rotation of Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain, Vern Bickford and Bill Voiselle, and although the latter 2 had decent seasons, the former 2 were fantastic, and the slogan for this Pennant-winning Boston team was "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." Maybe the Sox should've prayed for sun the day the Saturday opener was supposed to be played.

The Yankees slumped a little.  This time, they only scored 4 runs in the top of the 1st.  A Jeter leadoff single (Did somebody say he was in decline?) was followed by Teix (batting 2nd?) and A-Rod flying out.  Then Sox starter Franklin Morales hit Cano with a pitch.  (Again, probably not intentional, but when it comes to hit batsmen the Sox have -- literally -- thrown away their automatic presumption of innocence.) And Swish swatted a homer.  And then Andruw Jones, in the words of Yankee broadcaster John Sterling, made it "Back to back, and a belly to belly!" (Swish's 13th homer, Jones' 8th.) 

Jayson Nix added his 3rd homer, and Jones added his 9th.  The Sox got one in the bottom of that inning, but other than that, Freddy Garcia reassured a lot of Yankee Fans who thought he no longer had it, pitching very well into the 7th.

Yankees 6, Red Sox 1.  WP: Garcia (3-2).  No save.  LP: Morales (1-2).

*

The regularly-scheduled Saturday night game wasn't as much fun.  The 1st inning slump continued, as the Yankees scored only 3 runs.  Hey, it's Fenway: 3 runs qualifies as "only."

Phil Hughes pitched pretty well into the 6th inning,but then the Sox got to him.  And then Joe Girardi made 2 mistakes: He brought in Logan, whose luck ran out; and then he compounded this mistake by bringing in Cory Wade.

Bringing Cory Wade in to pitch at Fenway Park.  This is like driving on the Turnpike's cars-trucks-and-buses lanes in the rain with no brakes: Not recommended.

Jones would homer in the 7th (his 10th), and Chavez in the 9th (his 7th), but it was for nought.  Red Sox 9, Yankees 5.  WP: Felix Doubront (9-4).  No save.  LP: Hughes (9-7, although he deserved a better fate).

*

And then last night.  At one point, John Sterling read an ad for a drink, "Five Hour Energy."

Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park? Well, that's four hour energy.

Again, the Yankees declined in the 1st inning.  This time, they scored only 2.  In the 1st innings of these games, the Yankees outscored the Sox 14-6.  In the remaining 8 innings, the Sox led 15-14.  But you can't just cut out the 1st innings, can you?

Jones made it 4 homers in 3 games (11 for the season), and Ivan Nova was super again.  Yankees 7, Red Sox 3.  WP: Nova (10-3).  No save.  LP: Jon Lester (5-6).

Three out of four, we beat The Scum.

*

So here's how things stand in the American League Eastern Division, as we go into the All-Star Break: The Yankees are in 1st place, 52-33.  The Baltimore Orioles, though they've slumped, continue to surprise, at 45-40, 7 games behind. The Tampa Bay Rays are 45-41, 7 1/2 games back, 8 in the loss column. And the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays bring up the rear, both at .500, 43-43, 9 1/2 back, 10 in the loss column.  And, as Sterling pointed out last night, those 10 losses are games that  are awfully hard to get back.  As he also pointed out, the way the schedule has worked out, there's a lot of games against the Sox and Jays in the 2nd half.

Magic Numbers to eliminate: O's 70, Rays 69, Sox and Jays 67.

Derek Jeter has 3,199 career hits.  Alex Rodriguez has 2,857, 143 from 3,000.  He has 642 home runs, 18 from Willie Mays at 660, 58 from 700, 72 from Babe Ruth at 714, 113 from Hank Aaron at 755,and 121 from surpassing Barry Bonds as the all-time leader with 763.  He has 1,931 runs batted in, 69 from 2,000, and 367 from surpassing Aaron as the all-time leader with 2,298.

Considering how many injuries and slumps the Yankees have had, it's been a remarkable first half of the season.

I think we're going to enjoy the second half.

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