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AL East: Till We Meet Again
Is there any surprise that the final meeting of the regular season between the Yankees and Red Sox came down to Mariano Rivera v. David Ortiz with the game on the line? Given the recent history between the two teams, the answer is no. Rivera has shown signs of mortality against Boston in recent years. Now, with two men out, the bases loaded, and the Yankees ahead by just one run, Rivera was facing the most accomplished big moment hitter in recent memory. The Yankee closer was not sharp. He walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth. A two-out double to Julio Lugo put the tying run on base and then Rivera hit a batter and walked another to set the stage for Ortiz.
According to the Boston Globe:
"Well, what else?" Joe Torre said when asked what he thought of seeing Ortiz at the plate in that situation. "You figure, 'why not him,' at that point in time when he walked Varitek to start the inning, then hits the kid, and you keep hoping he gets the next guy out, and then the next guy is that mountain who comes up there and he had no place to go and we had no place to put him."
Fenway Park holds far fewer than 40,000 fans, but that doesn't prevent them from sounding like 50,000. The air was crisp and it felt like October in every way. With virtually the entire park on its feet, Rivera fell behind Ortiz then evened the count at 2-2, before throwing a 93 mph cutter, up and in. The ball got just under Ortiz's hands and the mighty slugger popped a short fly ball to center field. Derek Jeter -- whose three-run home run off of Curt Schilling in the eighth proved to be the difference -- back-peddled, made the catch, and pumped his fist, a trademark gesture sure to give indigestion to Red Sox fans everywhere.
In a game that featured outstanding starting performances from two old-timers Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, it was Jeter, whose body has looked tired for weeks now, with the final word. The victory gave New York a 10-8 season record against Boston.
Schilling pitched a gem, but in the eighth, he allowed a one-out single to Doug Mientkiewicz, then a pinch-hit double off the top of the green monster by Jason Giambi. His at-bat with Jeter seemed to last forever, as Schilling met with his catcher on at least three occasions. The tension continued to build when Jeter fouled a fastball down the right-field line, a long run for the right fielder, second and first baseman.
Then Schilling made a mistake and left an 84 mph splitter over the plate. Jeter punched a three-run homer over the Monster. "I was trying to bounce that ball in the dirt," Schilling told reporters after the game. "I don't ever take credit away from the hitter, but I was trying to bounce that ball ... I missed horribly probably in the most crucial situation of the game. That's not something I can do anymore. I can't overthrow the ball late in the game."
Jeter is now at a point in his career when it is fashionable to emphasis his short-comings, writes Mike Vaccaro in the New York Post. But the Yankee captain delivered a key hit against Jonathan Papelbon on Friday night, and then, the winning blow on Sunday.
Joba Chamberlain gave up his first earned run in the big leagues, a solo shot to Mike Lowell, but was still looked good in two innings of work -- in the eighth, he struck out Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew looking on nasty curve balls.
It was a huge win for the Yankees, who are trying to fend-off the surging Tigers (New York remains 2 1/2 ahead in the wild-card standings). The Red Sox may not be thrilled with the outcome of the weekend series -- Friday night's loss being especially painful -- but they avoided being swept and still have a 4 1/2-game lead. Josh Beckett won his 19th game of the season on Saturday and baring a total collapse, Boston will win the East.
The Yankees and Red Sox are finished with each other for the year, but would anyone be surprised to see them at it again, with Rivera and Ortiz, or Papelbon and Alex Rodriguez in the spotlight when it counts most?
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Its awesome to see that Paps is hittable. I mean everyone knew Mo was short for Mortal when it came to Yanks v. Sox but Paps was suppose to be the x factor. The Mo when he was in his prime. Well that's twice this yr. he's giving up runs to the Yankees. And A-Rod (aka best hitter alive) has been up for both those runs. He is the Papi to their Mo and I love it. Yanks showed that they are the second best team in baseball. Although the season series was 10-8 the Yanks were under equipped for much of the earlier struggles against the Sox, although we let some games get away via the bullpen. But with the Yanks health intact they finished the season 9-3. Whipping the staff ace, the import, 38pitches.com, wannabe Mo, the other import, and 2003 ALCS game 7 loser. Not to mention Clemens has thrown 2 quality starts at em yeilding only 1 earned run in 11 innings. The Sox will win the east but as much as they pound the other teams in our division and league, when it comes to the Yankees they're just another team. The Yanks will prob. go through Anaheim this year and Boston. What a year to excersise some recent post-season demons. Lets Go Yankees.
I watched part of this Boston/Yankees game and I don't think that I have ever seen so many broken/splintered bats in all my years of watching baseball. I think that the league is going to have to look into this situation before someone gets seriously injured out on the field or in the stands.
not sure a total collapse is neccessary for the yanks to take the east...
This has a horrible feel, like 2004 except reversed. It'll probably be NY in the ALCS, that is, if the Sox even make it that far... oh God I hope so.
AL East Title will reside in Boston this winter. The Sox will worry about the Yanks if they can make it thru LAAAA. I doubt they'll see them again.
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