4/21/07 vs. NY
As bad as not throwing well can feel in a game like tonight’s, the win negates pretty much any negatives you might otherwise take away. What a job by an entire cast of guys. Kyle ending the 8th by keeping the bases loaded and not letting the game get out of hand was the first big moment.
The rally to win it was fun to watch as well. How a left handed hitter can pull his hands in to hit Mariano’s cutter is way beyond me, but ‘Tek’s single was exactly that. Coco comes up huge by hitting the first pitch down the line, which surprised me that the Yankees we’re not playing no doubles right there. I am guessing that has more to do with how Mo pitches than the situation. For the second night in a row Alex gets a huge hit in a huge spot. That hit was a carbon copy of Gonzo’s floater in the 9th inning of game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
It always seems like you have to get that first come back win early to be able to get your fair share of them during the season. Coming back in Toronto the way we did was a huge lift (especially on travel day, the worst day of the season to lose) and then to come back of Mariano (who hadn’t pitched in 4-5 days I think) was a fantastic way to start off this series.
I was pretty fired up for this one. Even though you’ll find media on both sides of the aisle as to whether this ‘rivalry’ is big or not the fans pretty much guarantee that there is going to be electricity in either ball park. It’s certainly not the rivalry of the 70’s and 80’s because there aren’t many players that hate each other as there were back then. In fact there are very few I would guess. They have to write their stories, and there are about 500 of them in town every time we play each other so you’re going to read the gamut of stuff. It is a different series, even in April, when the game starts. I don’t think either team plays games before this looking at this series like people think we might, but we know it’s there because it is different once we start playing each other.
Comeback wins count as one, in any month they happen, so there’s no bigger lift now then there would be in June in my opinion, but winning like that, given the guys that made it happen, is a great one regardless of when it happens.
Warm ups went fine, nothing really good or bad. You could hear and sense the fans getting worked up which is always a good thing.
Game started with JD leading off and taking a FB in for strike one. Spotting the ball in to lefties early in a game is not something I’ve done well in the past but it’s starting to happen with more frequency now. The AB ended on a FB in that jammed him a bit for a grounder to 2nd. Jeter popped up a first pitch FB in and up for out #2 and Bobby finished the inning by hitting a ball hard to deep center for the last out. Command wise I felt very good, even with the few pitches I did throw.
Andy doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat. He is throwing a few more slow curves than I remember but he looks great and his cutter is still messing up right handed hitters. He made the 1st and 2nd quick innings by throwing DP balls both times which is huge early in a game.
Like everyone else, I knew Alex was on fire, well more than on fire but I am not sure what you’d call it. He’s hotter than hot. Watching his last few games has been pretty impressive. He is just not missing ANY mistakes and in addition he’s crushing some good pitches as well. I think there’s a major difference between a hot hitter, and a hall of fame hot hitter. Hot hitters still have holes, the latter don’t. I throw him three curve balls and get him to two strikes. I know he’s not looking for that many but the pitch feels good at the time and we get to two strikes on a call and a chase, The AB ends on a deep FB to right center but at that moment he shows me how locked in he is. I threw him a pretty well located fastball down and away, and with his butt out he still centered it and drove it to deep RCF. Jason flew out to left and Jorge to center in two pretty quick AB’s to end the 2nd.
The third started with Cano hitting a split off the end of the bat that got down just before Manny could catch it. I fell behind Cabrera and he lined a ball to center to put runners at first and second. I knew Doug would be bunting and was hoping to get on it fast enough to get the lead runner. With JD on deck that last thing you want to do is have a runner at third with less than two outs and a guy at the plate that does not strike out. Doug lays down a great bunt anyway. I need a strike out or a pop up, but either way JD needs to make an out or this becomes an inning that could get away in a hurry. I jam him but he hits it harder than I thought he could and the ball hits off the mound and scoots to Julio who has no chance to get the runner. I end up walking Jeter. Randy Marsh is a tough cookie. The hard part is he’s probably the nicest human being on the planet, but his strike zone tends to be very ‘hitterish’. He doesn’t ring up a lot of third strikes and his corners can be smallish. I thought a couple balls to Derek were strikes, but to no avail. The one thing Randy is, is consistent. You know going in that the plate isn’t going to be normal so you deal with it. The other guy has to make pitches too. I end up getting Bobby to check on a good split down and away to end the inning.
The fourth starts with a fastball in to Alex. The next pitch is where things come unhinged. I won’t go into detail about the pitch intention or the call but needless to say it was NOT supposed to be a fastball, knee high, down the middle. He crushes it. No need to even look, the sound is easily recognizable from guys that swing like that. Now I’m down 2-0 and just got beat by the guy I knew I had a plan I could execute and get out.
Jason chases a good split for the first out. Jorge hits a ball he’s hit 15 times, at least, off me. An end of the bat tailing fly ball to left that falls in for a double. Cano grounds out to first and Melky flies out to center to keep the game 2-0. Frustrating to say the least but I don’t allow that third run and feel good about ending the inning.
Two out walks, 0-2 hits, 4 pitch walks, the list goes on forever. Cardinal sins for pitchers lose games. Giving up runs with two outs and nobody on is probably one of the more dire sins you can commit as a pitcher. The fifth starts with Doug flying out to center field. Fenway was playing very big in center today, the combination of the park and the weather make it spacious on days like today. I freeze JD on a slider in for out number two and then the wheels fall off. I get Derek to two strikes and hang a split on the inner half, down, that he rifles to left. Bobby gets to 2-0 and hits a FB that catches way more of the plate than it was supposed to, to put runners on first and second. I start Alex off with a fastball strike, then split ball, then run a fastball up and in for strike two. Jason and I confer, with two choices on our minds I pick the wrong one. Looking back at the pitch it was not in that bad of a spot, to most guys, but as hot as he is, and as good as he feels, and as good as he is, he hammers it. The ball was about knee high and on the corner away and he hits it into our bullpen. Coco almost made the catch of the century and luckily didn’t break anything in the process. No real way to describe the emotional swing that happens at this point, needless to say it’s ugly.
Jason singles on a poorly located slider and Nieves ends the inning by grounding out.
We’d tied it at 2 on ‘Teks first homer (hammered into our bullpen as well) and I go out and give back 3, with two outs and no one on. Definitely a low point in the evening. I don’t want out of this game, still feeling like we are going to make something happen. However when you give up 5 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings you are pretty much ammo less in any argument you might want to put up to stay in. Thankfully Tito doesn’t visit me on the bench.
The sixth and seventh are quick innings. I feel like I had great command and locate just about everything as we work through all six hitters. I know I am done at the end of seven and John confirms it when I come in.
So basically I give this game away in a three hitter stretch in the fifth. Inexcusable mistakes and horrible execution put us behind a pretty big eight ball as they have Mariano on 4 days rest and Andy is still very sharp.
Obviously the good guys pull it out. Just a fantastic performance from Hideki in the 9th. I think he’s flown under just about everyone’s radar but I think that might stop happening at this point.
This is a game that 5-6 years ago I’d have been incredibly upset about. Now, not so much. I’m incredibly disappointed in how I performed, but the end result was a huge win. The bottom line is I started the game, and we won. Regardless of the fact that I had little to nothing to do with it, we won.
Say what you want about games and importance for April, or September, but the fact is they all count for one win, or one loss. Some wins are bigger than others, some losses as well. Beating the Yankees when trailing by 4 runs, hell beating ANY team when trailing by four runs in the 8th is a big win. Beating the best closer in the games history is a huge lift as well.
Common theory amongst many baseball people is that you win 50, you lose 50 and what you do in those other 62 is what determines the season. The last two nights we won games that should have been in the ‘lose 50’ column. That’s big no matter what day on the calendar it is, or who they happen against.