Sorry for the delayed post today, y'all. I'm home sick and I'm not the only one under the weather; my computer has been crashing all morning, so I've had a heck of a time getting these links done. Regardless, it was a good night for the Yanks on Tuesday, and a horrible one for Boston. The Red Sox sabatoged themselves last night with three errors and two more misplays which led to Yankee runs, as the Bombers creamed Boston 11-3. The most costly error came with two men out in the fourth. The Yankees already held a 4-2 lead, thanks in part to aggresive base-running, and despite the fact that Johnny Damon crushed two solo home runs off of Javier Vazquez. With Miguel Cairo on second, Derek Jeter hit a ground ball to Nomar Garciaparra. Cairo held up momentarily, and just as the ball passed him, he clapped his hands together, as he headed for third. Garciaparra, who made a throwing error in the first, bobbled the ball and Jeter reached first. Gary Sheffield, "The Punisher," followed and launched a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence.
The Yankees had a comfortable 7-2 lead and didn't look back. Tony Clark added a monster shot into the black seats in center field, and David "Cookie Monster" Ortiz hit a solo blast that was similar to Ruben Sierra's home run on Sunday night. Three solo home runs were all the Sox could muster off of Yankee pitching. Javier Vazquez has allowed 15 dingers this season; fortunately for the Yankees, 12 have been of the solo variety.
Vazquez wasn't dominant, but he was solid, striking out eight and walking none. It was a forgettable evening for Derek Lowe and the rest of the Red Sox who hope to rebound tonight behind Tim Wakefield. Red Sox fans could not have been pleased at the sight of Pedro Martinez standing on the top step of the Red Sox dugout, smiling and laughing with the fans, even posing for pictures. According to Jim Kaat on YES, Martinez stopped in on the Yankees' batting practice earlier in the day. He appeared in the empty stands and walked toward the field clapping like a Yankee fan as Derek Jeter took BP, chanting, "De-rek Je-ter." He came down to the field and shook hands with Jeter, Mattingly and Tony Clark among others. Somewhere, Bob Gibson is rolling his eyes.
The Red Sox defense is killing them right now. Yesterday, Peter Gammons spoke with Fatso and Fruit Loops on the FAN (excerpt via Steve Silva):
The starting pitching's been pretty good. But it's the baseball they play. This is incredible to me. They've gone eight consecutive games without turning a double play. That's incomprehensible. They are so dysfunctional defensively. They lead the major leagues in unearned runs allowed. It's really disturbing. And I know it really disturbs management that they're just playing blasé baseball and everybody goes "well they don’t have to worry, because they're going to make the playoffs." They're in a pretty tough stretch right now, it's not that simple and you can see Anaheim or Oakland going right down the stretch the last six weeks winning a ton. If you’re sort of coasting and saying well is Schilling lined up to pitch game one, or is Pedro lined up to pitch game one, all of a sudden, it got away from you.
... The team is not as wild and fun loving as last year. I don’t thing its bad (chemistry). It's strange because they've sort of waited for Nixon and Garciaparra to come back. The biggest thing is the way they play. You can’t fail to turn double plays and give away unearned runs. They don’t bother to get the guy on second over. If you play that style, you better play good defense and they haven't done it.
It's hard to know what to make of Boston. They are deep offensively and have good pitching. I can see them turning things around quickly. However, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if things got worse before they got better either.
Jason Giambi was a late scratch, but the struggling first baseman appears to have discovered why he's been so spent of late; he's suffering from an intestinal parasite. Giambi has been given antibiotics and will hopefully return over the weekend.
Finally, Vice President Dick Cheney was at the Stadium last night. (Insert Evil Empire crack here.) The VP was shown on the diamond vision screen during the seventh inning stretch and was booed. The image was quickly removed.
I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up
Dave Anderson has a column about Don Zimmer's new book. (A new one already?) Apparently, after Zimmer's infamous turf-dive in the playoffs last year, Boston pitcher Tim Wakefield saw Popeye having dinner, and offered him an olive branch in form of a bottle of wine. The following day, a humbled Zimmer, gurgled a public apology before being overwhelmed with emotion. According to Zimmer, Pedro Martinez offered to apologize too:
"I said, 'What does he have to apologize for?' " writes Zimmer, now the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' senior adviser. "I was the guy who charged him and threw the punch. To the people who said Pedro beat up an old man I said, 'No, an old man was dumb enough to try and beat up on Pedro.' "
Zimmer writes that a "culmination of events" had incited him, particularly a 2002 game at Yankee Stadium, when Martínez was not even pitching.
"Pedro was standing on the top step of their dugout yelling stuff over at us, especially when Jorge Posada was batting," Zimmer recalls. "I don't know what he was saying, but he was pointing to his ears and his behind as if to say Posada had big ears or a big behind or something.
"It was clear Pedro was taunting him and I just thought that was one of the most unprofessional things I'd ever seen on a ball field. It wasn't just that game either. It seemed every time we played the Red Sox and Pedro wasn't pitching, he'd be up there chirping at Posada."
We all know how it played out from there:
In the bottom of the fourth of Game 3, Roger Clemens fired a high fastball that was not really that tight, but Manny Ramirez stared at Clemens, prompting both dugouts to empty.
"I looked around," Zimmer writes, "and said to myself, 'Where's Pedro?' Then I saw him coming up out of their dugout, I thought, 'This is my one shot to take a swipe at him.' "
He did, but Martínez shoved him sideways to the ground. "Obviously, this was not a very rational thought," Zimmer writes, "but I was hot and this had been building up inside of me for nearly a year. So I make my run at Pedro, but as I go to throw my punch, the next thing I know I'm rolling around on the ground. It all happened so fast, I didn't have time to realize what a fool I'd made of myself and how my family, sitting in the seats watching this, must have felt."