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September 17, 2007
Photo: Yanks win, close gap further
AP photo / Kathy Willens
Jason Giambi slides safely around the tag of catcher Ramon Hernandez in the fourth inning, scoring on Robinson Cano's double. The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5, tonight at Yankee Stadium to close to within three and a half games of the Red Sox in the American League East. Click here to see the box score.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:04 PM | Permalink
Photo: Thomas, McGowan sink Red Sox in Toronto
AP photo / Frank Gunn
Frank Thomas hits a two-run home run in the first inning, the first of three home runs on the night for Thomas, as the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-1, tonight in Toronto. Dustin McGowan pitched a complete game for the Blue Jays. Click here to see the box score.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:24 PM | Permalink
FINAL: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 1
TORONTO -- Frank Thomas hit three home runs, the second three-homer game of his career against Boston, and Dustin McGowan pitched a complete-game five-hitter, with no walks and nine strikeouts, as the Blue Jays rolled to a 6-1 victory over the Red Sox Monday night.
Thomas' first home run, a two-run shot with two outs in the first off Tim Wakefield (16-11), put Toronto ahead to stay. Mike Lowell doubled home the only Boston run in the fourth inning, cutting the lead to 2-1, but a fielder's-choice grounder by Vernon Wells, who barely beat the throw to first that would have resulted in an inning-ending double play, made it 3-1 in the fourth.
Thomas homered off Wakefield in the sixth, and added a two-run shot off Kyle Snyder in the eighth.
Posted by Art Martone at 9:23 PM | Permalink
News from The Great White North
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
TORONTO -- Quick pieces of pregame news . . .
-- Though he campaigned to get back behind the plate tonight to catch his usual batterymate, Doug Mirabelli hasn't been cleared by the training staff, so Kevin Cash gets the start.
-- Manager Terry Francona said there might be an announcement after tonight's game regarding Wednesday's starting pitcher. That seemed to indicate that the assignment might go to Julian Tavarez, although Clay Buchholz remains a candidate.
-- Manny Ramirez was off to take some extra hitting in the cage a while ago, but won't return to the lineup before Friday. Ramirez is evaluated daily, but still isn't 100 percent. ''He needs to clear himself,'' said Francona. ''He has to be confident that he can go play and not hurt himself.''
-- The team got into Toronto around 4 a.m., meaning little rest for the weary. Alex Cora is getting the start at short tonight, with Julio Lugo given the night off.
Posted by Art Martone at 5:11 PM | Permalink
Lineups from The Great White North
Jacoby Ellsbury LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Lowell 3B
J.D. Drew RF
Eric Hinske 1B
Coco Crisp CF
Alex Cora SS
Kevin Cash C
Tim Wakefield SP
Vernon Wells CF
Matt Stairs LF
Alex Rios RF
Frank Thomas DH
Aaron Hill 2B
Gregg Zaun C
Adam Lind LF
Russ Adams 3B
John McDonald SS
Dustin McGowan SP
Posted by Sean McAdam at 4:46 PM | Permalink
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Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Do the Yankees have their number?
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: last night's classic matchup; Doug Mientkiewicz comes up big; Curt Schilling looks good again; do the Red Sox have fundamental matchup problems with the Yankees? Hideki Okajima; the absence of Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez; the coming series with Toronto.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Schilling: "Schilling's done a decent job keeping the ball in the ballpark in his non-Yankee starts, and I think he continues to pitch very well, and has pretty much solidified the number-two spot in the rotation for the postseason, but he does have to be careful about keeping the ball in the ballpark."
Matchup problems: "Until this weekend, from the Red Sox standpoint, I would have been concerned about the team's top pitchers' inability to shut down the New York lineup, but I think in the last four meetings ... they've come up with good outings. It wasn't until that Schilling start in New York [to end last month's series] that any member of the Red Sox rotation had a quality start against this Yankee team this year. ... That to me was the thing that maybe the Red Sox had to get over. ... I think these teams are about as evenly matched as you can get, and should they meet in the ALCS, I think you have to start with a blank slate."
Toronto: "The Blue Jays have a pretty decent starting rotation ... although the Blue Jays are way out of contention and are struggling just to finish over .500, it will not be an easy three nights pitching-wise for the Red Sox, and minus Youkilis -- and certainly it looks like Manny won't be back until Tampa later this week -- they might be hard-pressed to mount much offense these three nights."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:02 AM | Permalink
| Comments 1
Baseball Today: Monday, September 17
PROMISE OF OCTOBER: If the weekend was a glimpse of what awaits in a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS matchup next month, bring it on. Both teams have work to do before that can happen, of course -- foremost among them is simply making the playoffs, though the Sox are all but a lock and the Yanks are in charge of their own destiny -- but if the passion and intensity and drama and excitement of the last three days are what awaits, let's hope for both of them to make it. The series ended in the most thrilling way possible: A Mariano Rivera-David Ortiz showdown with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the Yankees clinging to a 4-3 lead. Steven Krasner examines the at-bat pitch-by-pitch in his online-only version of Inside The Game, a battle Rivera won by inducing a pop to short center on a 2-and-2 pitch, clinching New York's victory. Still, as Joe McDonald reports in his online-only game recap, the Red Sox came away confident they'll hold onto their 4 1/2-game lead over the final two weeks. One of the reasons for that confidence: Curt Schilling's performance in his mano-a-mano showdown with Roger Clemens, recounted by Krasner in the newspaper version of Inside The Game. Schilling (above, Journal photo by Glenn Osmundson) wound up on the losing end, thanks to a three-run homer by Derek Jeter with two outs in the top of the eighth (New York Daily News); Rivera made it interesting at the end (New York Daily News) but the Yanks still managed to come out on top even though Joba Chamberlain allowed the first run of his major-league career (New York Post). And Jeter was the reason, coming through as he's done so many times in his career. (New York Post)
FAILING THE LESSON: In his fascinating account of the game and the series, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark relates Schilling's frustration at the Jeter homer, calling it part of his transformation into a non-power pitcher: ''That's not something I can do anymore. I can't overthrow the ball late in the game . . . This is an incredibly painful way to have to learn a lesson you've already learned and you already know."
ATTENTION, FALL-BALL TEAMS: Manny Ramirez wants to go somewhere to get some at-bats before returning to the Red Sox lineup, but, with the minor-league seasons over and the Instructional League not yet having begun, Terry Francona explained to him there's nowhere to go. Krasner tells the story in the newspaper version of the Red Sox journal, which also relates that the Sox plan to give Daisuke Matsuzaka some rest as they line up their postseason pitching rotation.
HURTING: As Ramirez gets ready to return, the Sox could be without Kevin Youkilis for a while. In his postgame, online-only Red Sox Journal, Krasner reports Youkilis has no feeling in his right thumb after being hit by Chien-Ming Wang pitch Saturday and doesn't know when he'll be able to play.
FASHION REPORT: The online-only Red Sox Journal also lists the strange outfits rookies were forced to wear in the team's yearly hazing ritual. Matsuzaka and his interpreter must have looked particularly fetching in their Teletubby garb.
THE ONE GOOD THING ABOUT LATE GAMES . . . is that you get interesting stories for early editions of the newspaper in lieu of game accounts. McDonald had one today, talking to Red Sox players about how important Jason Varitek is to the team no matter what he's hitting.
WHERE WAS YOUR HEAD, THEN? Jonathan Papelbon says his head ''wasn't really in the game" Friday night (New York Daily News) when he and Hideki Okajima combined to allow six runs in the eighth inning, turning a 7-2 Boston lead into an 8-7 New York victory. (projo.com) Papelbon was particularly flighty this weekend, as he also lost his cell phone; luckily for him, Bill Madden of the Daily News found it.
GET 'EM ALL: Since we've touched on the two Yankee wins in the series, let's also link to Sean McAdam's account of Josh Beckett's overpowering performance in Boston's triumph on Saturday. (projo.com)
K-ROD REVISITED: Alex Speier writes that Clay Buchholz 2007 could be a repeat of Francisco Rodriguez 2002. (Boston Herald)
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? Seth Mnookin has taken up the cause of J.D. Drew, wondering why Drew could be still getting booed after going 3-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the series, including 2-for-4 with a walk with runners in scoring position and two outs.
EARTH TO BERNIE . . . Well, apparently no messages are getting through because Bernie Williams still thinks he can play. (New York Daily News)
A.L. RACES: The Tigers are still in hailing distance of the Yankees in the wild-card race after beating the Twins (Detroit News) . . . The Angels lost to the White Sox (Riverside Press-Enterprise) and the Indians lost to the Royals (Cleveland Plain-Dealer), both missing a chance to gain ground on the Red Sox in the battle for the A.L.'s best record.
N.L. RACES: The Cubs beat the Cardinals (Chicago Sun-Times) . . . The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers (Los Angeles Daily News) . . . The Phillies beat the Mets (Philadelphia Inquirer) . . . The Brewers beat the Reds (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . .And the Padres beat the Giants (San Diego Union-Tribune).
To see how all those games affected the races, check out the divisional standings and wild-card standings. (Projo Stats)
DON'T LET GEORGE MITCHELL HEAR THIS: We think Brian Giles was kidding when he listed the reasons for his lack of power at home. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
NOT THERE YET: Jim Thome became the 23rd player in major league history to hit 500 home runs (Chicago Sun-Times), but ESPN.com's Rob Neyer thinks Thome needs to hit another 100 home runs before he can be considered a Hall of Famer. (espn.com)
QUICKLY: Orioles reliever Danys Baez has a partial tear in his right elbow and may miss the entire 2008 season. (Baltimore Sun)
AND FINALLY . . . Shelley Duncan thought it was good-natured fun. But a lot of people didn't think his autograph to a 10-year-old Red Sox fan was all that funny. (Both stories Boston Herald)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:58 AM | Permalink
Red Sox looking ahead
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- The Red Sox and Yankees completed their regular-season series last night at Fenway Park, but don’t be surprised if the two clubs meet again this year.
It’s almost inevitable that scenario will play out in the playoffs, but before each team can even think about the postseason, Boston and New York were concentrating on the task at hand.
The pitching matchup of Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling didn’t disappoint, but it was one mistake by the Red Sox starter that allowed the Yankees’ Derek Jeter to hit a three-run homer in the top of the eighth en route to a 4-3 victory.
Boston threatened with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and slugger David Ortiz at the plate. But, New York closer Mariano Rivera did was he does best and got Ortiz to pop out to short to end the game.
“The way Clemens and Schilling pitched tonight,” said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, “the fans got their money's worth right up until the last pitch.”
New York took 2 of 3 games from Boston over the weekend and the Red Sox lead in the A.L. East stands at 4 1/2 games with 12 games remaining on their schedule.
“Tonight boiled down to two mistakes,” Schilling said of the home runs he allowed to Jeter and Robinson Cano (in the fifth inning). “I missed horribly in probably the most crucial situation of the game, that’s all it was. . . I was trying to bounce that ball (to Jeter) in the dirt. I don’t ever try to take credit away from a hitter, but I was trying to bounce that ball.”
Last night was a rematch from Game 7 of the 2001 World Series when Schilling played for Arizona and Clemens for New York. The excitement wasn’t lost on anyone last night. Schilling worked 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
“Phenomenal,” said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek on Schilling's performance. “He did a great job.”
Clemens lasted six innings and surrendered one unearned run on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
“He certainly hasn’t forgotten how to pitch or compete,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Now that this series is in the books, both teams can concentrate on the final two weeks of the season. Boston is trying to win a divisional title for the first time in more than a decade, and New York is battling for the wild card.
“I would rather be 4 1/2 up than 4 1/2 down,” said Schilling. “We really don’t think much about that. We’re very good at staying focused on the game at hand.”
Boston left after last night’s game for a seven-day, six-game road trip through Toronto and Tampa before returning home to host Oakland and Minnesota. New York hosts Baltimore and Toronto and closes out the season on the road in Tampa and Baltimore.
There’s still plenty of baseball to be played.
“Absolutely,” said Red Sox left fielder J.D. Drew. “We still have to play quality-winning baseball and go from there.”
Even though the Red Sox lost the regular-season final series to New York, Boston’s clubhouse was a bit jovial after the game. It’s a good sign that the players are relaxed.
“It would have been nice to win tonight,” said Red Sox utility man Eric Hinske. “We have a 4 1/2-game lead heading into a road trip and hopefully have a good series against Toronto and Tampa. We’re in a good spot. No one is panicking. We’re just going to try to finish strong, make the playoffs and take it into the postseason.”
Ortiz, who had an opportunity to make magic happen again last night in his ninth-inning at-bat before Rivera won the battle, feels good about the club’s mindset in the final stretch of the season.
“We have to keep playing the way we have been,” he said. “Nobody is feeling pressure around here. We just lost one game and we move forward and try to win the series in Toronto.”
That attitude has worked for the Red Sox in the past and they’re not about to deviate from that plan. There’s too much at stake for that to change.
“We’ve played hard all year and we’ve been winning this division all year long,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “We’ve got 12 more games left and we have to make a push.”
And, Boston will add a huge bat to the lineup once Manny Ramirez (strained oblique) returns, which could be as early as tonight or tomorrow against the Blue Jays.
“He’s looked good in BP,” said Lowell. “Putting him back in the lineup is not like a September call-up.”
As the Red Sox players left the clubhouse last night, the message was the same: “We didn’t quit and that’s huge,” said Varitek. “If we keep playing like this, we’ll be okay.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 12:56 AM | Permalink
Late notes -- Sox-Yanks, Sept. 16
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis, who suffered a bruised right wrist, just under the palm, said after last night's game that he still doesn't have feeling in his right thumb and wasn't feeling a whole lot better since getting drilled by a Chien-Ming Wang pitch during Saturday's game.
Youkilis said he has no idea when he'll be able to return to the lineup.
-- The Red Sox rookies, including interpreters and Japanese trainers, endured the yearly hazing ritual, forced to wear various eye-catching, often embarrassing clothing for the start of the team's last road trip, to Toronto.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (green) and his interpreter, Masa Hoshino (purple), were dressed in colorful Teletubby outfits. Brandon Moss was dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, complete with wig and small picnic basket. Clay Buchholz was a female pirate. Those were a few of the more colorful outfits.
-- Jacoby Ellsbury had his hitting streak snapped at 13 games. The Sox outfielder, who had delivered at least one hit in each game since being promoted from Pawtucket on Sept. 1, went 0-for-4, including three groundouts to first base.
He did reach base twice, though. In the first he reached when left fielder Johnny Damon dropped his leadoff liner. He stole second and scored on a single by Mike Lowell. Ellsbury also got on base when Mariano Rivera drilled him off the left kneecap on the first pitch of his ninth-inning at-bat. Ellsbury stayed in the game and didn't seem to be limping after the game.
-- The homer for Robinson Cano was his third of the year off Curt Schilling and the fourth of his career . . . Lowell's homer in the eighth accounted for the first earned run surrendered by Joba Chamberlain in his big-league career. His scoreless streak was snapped at 17 2/3 innings . . . Derek Jeter's two hits boosted his career total to 2,335, moving him one behind Bernie Williams for fourth place on the Yanks' all-time list . . . The two RBI by Lowell inflated his season's total to 108, the second-highest single-season total for a Red Sox third baseman, trailing on the 112 RBI produced by Butch Hobson in 1977 . . . Eric Hinske, who went 1-for-4, is batting .421 (8-for-19) over his last six games . . . The Yankees won 8 of their last 10 games against the Sox this year, winning the season's series, 10-8.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:38 AM | Permalink
Inside The Game -- Ortiz vs. Rivera
INSIDE THE GAME
By Steven Krasner
BOSTON -- Somehow, there was no other way to wind up yet another intense Red Sox-Yankees series.
David Ortiz versus Mariano Rivera.
One run already in against Rivera. The bases loaded. Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. New York leading, 4-3. The sellout crowd of 36,533 at Fenway Park roaring as Ortiz stepped into the batter's box.
It was a classic confrontation between, as Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia put it, "the best clutch hitter in baseball, bottom line, facing the best closer of all-time."
Ortiz knew what to expect. One 90-mph-plus cut fastball after another. That's Rivera's bread-and-butter pitch. His placid attitude on the mound belies the nastiness of the pitch. Here it is, try and hit it, says the right-hander's demeanor and delivery.
Rivera's first one zipped in at 94 mph. Ortiz, a left-handed hitter, fouled it back. The next one came in at 91 and was outside. The third one, at 92, was high, giving Ortiz the advantage in the duel at 2-and-1. Rivera's next pitch, at 93, cut in on Ortiz's hands. Ortiz made contact, hitting a weak bouncer foul down the first-base line.
The next pitch, on a 2-and-2 count, also was at 93. This one also cut in on Ortiz's hands. He took his usual mighty cut -- but the ball was in on him, and Ortiz only managed a weak popup into shallow center that was caught by Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, the hero in New York's victory because of his two-out, three-run homer in the eighth off Curt Schilling.
"I went out there and fought like I normally do," said Ortiz of the at-bat. "Obviously he made some good pitches and won the battle."
"The man we wanted at the plate was David. But he's human," said third baseman Mike Lowell, who went 3-for-4, including a homer, and knocked in two runs.
Pedroia preceded Ortiz and had a battle of his own with Rivera, a confrontation the rookie won, earning an eight-pitch walk that brought Big Papi to the plate with a chance for another one of his patented walkoff hits.
Pedroia, a right-handed hitter, was down in the count at 0-and-2 after cutters of 93 and 94 mph, respectively. The others ranged from 91 to 94 as Rivera pitched him away for most of the at-bat before missing inside with the last two pitches, filling the bases.
"When I got to two strikes I was trying to move it to the next guy. I wasn't trying to hit a homer. I wasn't trying to do anything. I was trying to get David to the plate. I had to fight my way on," said Pedroia.
Pedroia was struck by the crowd's reaction as he neared first base after drawing the free pass.
"I remember they announced David's name and the ground was shaking (because of the fans' roar). That was pretty awesome," said Pedroia. "Mariano versus David. That's fun. But Mariano's tough."
Tough enough to get the better of Ortiz and the Red Sox this time.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:18 AM | Permalink