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September 16, 2007
FINAL: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
By JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- It came down to the wire. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera against Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
It was the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, and Boston trailing by a run. The legendary closer won the battle as New York held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday night at Fenway Park as Ortiz popped up to Derek Jeter.
On a night when both starting pitchers were in the spotlight, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter stole the show.
Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling was winning the pitchers’ duel against Roger Clemens as Boston held a one-run lead heading into the eighth inning.
Jeter crushed an 84 mph hanging splitter from Schilling and deposited it into the Monster seats for a three-run home run to give New York a three-run lead and eventually the Yankees held on for a 4-3 victory last night at Fenway Park. New York took 2 of 3 from Boston this weekend as the Sox’ lead in the A.L. East standings is now 4 1/2 games.
Clemens entered the game undefeated (5-0) with a 3.14 ERA in nine career regular-season starts as an opponent at Fenway Park. He was given the hook after six innings and allowed just one unearned run on two hits. Schilling finished 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
As Schilling and Clemens warmed up in the bullpen prior to tonight’s series finale at Fenway Park, both the Red Sox and Yankees’ respective pitching staffs stood almost at attention looking on.
It was a sign of respect. It was a gesture of longevity. It meant this is September and this game meant a whole lot for both clubs.
Leading up to this matchup of one certain Hall-of-Famer versus a possible hall inductee, both clubs wanted to downplay the excitement, saying it was just another game. Deep down the Red Sox and Yankees must feel the vibe.
Boston utility man Eric Hinske admitted as much after Saturday’s victory by the Red Sox.
''Everybody knows that when we’re playing the Yankees it’s a lot more intense than any other game no matter what,” he said. ''So, when you come to the yard you better be ready to play. If you’re not the fans will let you know it right away. If you can’t get up for a Red Sox-Yankees game, you’ve got something wrong with you. The electricity in stadium, and everything else – it’s awesome to be a part of.”
Schilling and Clemens are two pitchers who certainly wanted to prove something to the baseball world. In the end Schilling proved to have a better outing, but the Jeter had the final say.
Things looked promising for Boston early as Red Sox rookie Jacoby Ellsbury continues to shine for Boston and, again, he provided a huge spark early.
He reached base in the bottom of the first inning when Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon misplayed a shallow liner. Ellsbury quickly stole second easily – his fourth swipe for Boston – and later scored on a Mike Lowell grounder through the hole on the left side to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Schilling was cruising and kept New York at bay until he made a simply mistake to the Yankees’ Robinson Cano in the fifth inning. The veteran right-hander left a fastball over the middle of the plate that Cano deposited into the Monster seats to tie the game at 1-1.
The Red Sox threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Hinske led off with a double and reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Coco Crisp. Julio Lugo followed and struck out swinging, before Ellsbury grounded out to first to end the inning.
New York responded with a threat of its own in the top of the eighth.
With one out, the Yankees’ Doug Mientkiewicz collected his second hit of the night off Schilling, which was followed by a pinch-hit single by Jason Giambi, who barely missed a two-run homer at the top of the Monster.
Jeter, however, didn’t miss.
He launched a shot well above the left-field wall and into the Monster seats for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead. When the ball exploded off his bat, Schilling knew it was gone and dropped his head. Ellsbury just stood and watched it go. That was the end of Schilling’s night.
Offensively, the Red Sox weren’t done.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Lowell provided a solo homer off Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. Even though the rookie pitcher threw a 98 mph fastball, Lowell proved to the kid that everybody at this level can turn on a heater.
Rivera earned the save in the ninth, but not before allowing a RBI-double to Lugo.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:18 PM | Permalink
New York state of mind
The Yankees just concluded BP and manager Joe Torre discussed a few things, including catcher Jorge Posada, pitcher Roger Clemens and the playoff race.
Posada, who was involved in a devastating collision with the Sox' Eric Hinske at home plate on Saturday, was taken to the hospital after that game and results were negative. He's back in the lineup tonight and is serving as the club's designated hitter.
Torre said everything is fine with Posada's health and the Yankees need his bat in the lineup, especially since he's hitting .338 this season.
Torre, a former major-league catcher, said he can't remember ever being knocked out while playing. Posada was never down for the count, but it was pretty close Saturday.
New York slugger Jason Giambi is out of the lineup and Doug Mientkiewicz will be playing first base. Giambi has struggled defensively this series, plus Torre said his elbow his a little sore after being hit by a pitch during Saturday's game. Mientkiewicz is 3-for-10 lifetime against Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, including a home run.
Clemens returns to Fenway tonight and Torre said he has nothing but respect for the future Hall-of-Famer. Both teams are expecting an exciting matchup.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 7:18 PM | Permalink
Yankee Lineup, Sept. 16
Manager Joe Torre checked with catcher Jorge Posada, who had his bell rung in a home-plate collision with Eric Hinske during Saturday's game, and then made out his lineup.
And it is:
A. Rodriguez 3b
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:57 PM | Permalink
Pregame Notes, Sept. 16
-- Kevin Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch on the inside of his right wrist, underneath the palm, still is "really sore" today, said manager Terry Francona. But while Youkilis is out of the starting lineup today, replaced at first base by Eric Hinske, Francona thinks he could be ready to return to the starting lineup tomorrow in the opener of a three-game series in Toronto.
-- The Sox are listing Wednesday's starter in Toronto as "TBA." That would be Daisuke Matsuzaka's day to start, but, said Francona, apparently looking forward to the postseason though he has steadfastly refused to answer questions along those lines, "at some point we need to maneuver our staff as we go forward."
The thinking is that the Sox would like to have Matsuzaka follow Josh Beckett in the postseason rotation, so they could have Beckett pitch on Friday in Tampa Bay (Thursday is an off day) and then Dice-K on Saturday, which would give the Japanese right-hander some extra rest, a commodity he would seem to need given his recent struggles.
The "TBA" likely will be either rookie Clay Buchholz or Julian Tavarez. The Sox have another option to "maneuver" the staff a week from tomorrow when they have another scheduled off day.
-- Tim Wakefield played catch before batting practice. He then dressed and left the clubhouse to catch an early evening flight to Toronto. He was flown ahead of the team to Toronto because he'll be starting tomorrow night's series opener and will be able to get his normal night-before-game rest. His teammates are looking at a 3 a.m. arrival in Toronto, if they're lucky, after entertaining the Yankees tonight in an 8 o'clock start.
-- Doug Mirabelli ran the bases and took batting practice today. Mirabelli (left hamstring) is hoping to convince the Red Sox that he is ready to return to action as Wakefield's personal catcher, but Francona said it isn't a lock that he will be behind the plate tomorrow night for the knuckleballer.
"He's politicking for it, but I don't know if he's ready," said Francona. "Obviously he's pretty close, but I don't know if he's there yet.
-- The Sox are going to try to give reliever Eric Gagne "consistent innings," said Francona, but not necessarily in late-game pressure situations.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:40 PM | Permalink
Manny Wants At-Bats
Boston manager Terry Francona said a few minutes ago during his daily media briefing that Manny Ramirez (strained left oblique) visited his office this afternoon and asked where he could go to get in some at-bats before returning to big-league action.
"I tried to explain to him, well, that would be with us," said Francona with a chuckle. "There's no place to send him."
That's because the Instructional League hasn't started yet and the Red Sox' minor-league teams are finished with their respective seasons.
Francona said he appreciated Ramirez approaching him to let him know he's getting close, but the manager still thinks he could be "2-3-4 days out" from playing. One possibility for at-bats is a simulated game, but Francona said he "wasn't excited about" that possibility, no doubt because it hardly approaches game situations.
Once Ramirez is ready to return, though, Francona said the slugging left fielder will just have to work his way back into a groove.
"When he's ready to play we'll play him," said Francona. "You hope a guy gets hot (when he comes back) but we'll keep running him out there and let him get comfortable again. There's nothing else to do."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:31 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, Sept. 16
The Red Sox' lineup was posted at its usual time, but the Yankees' lineup posting was delayed, no doubt for New York to check on the playing condition of catcher Jorge Posada, who absorbed a bone-crunching home-plate collision from Eric Hinske during Saturday's game.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:26 PM | Permalink