The Yankees and Red Sox played characteristically tense game at Fenway Park last night, one that was filled with home runs, lead-changes, clutch hits, a couple of blown calls, and some excellent fielding (Matsui, Rodriguez, Mueller, Nixon and especially Caberera). The Red Sox hit three home runs (Ramirez and Nixon off of Mussina, Damon off of Gordon) and Pedro Martinez had a one-run lead going into the eighth inning. But the lead didn't last long as Hideki Matsui hit a solo shot into Boston's bullpen to tie the game (Godziller, who has mashed against Boston this year, was the star of the game for the Bombers). Martinez remained in the game and allowed a soft double to Bernie Williams on a 3-2 pitch that hugged just inside the right-field line. Ruben Sierra, 0-3 with two strikeouts to that point, drove Bernie home but hitting a very tough pitch into center.
The Yankees would score an insurance run and though Mariano Rivera walked Trot Nixon to start the ninth, he was bailed out when Jason Varitek grounded into a 1-6-3 double play. Orlando Cabrera reached second on a bloop double to right and Bill Mueller grounded out sharply to Rivera to end the game. Mariano was not especially sharp, but his deft fielding ability helped him earn his 51rst save of the year, a career high. Flash Gordon pitched the seventh and eighth innings and allowed the solo homer to Damon, but pitched brilliantly otherwise.
The win puts the Yankees five-and-a-half games ahead of Boston. It was another discouraging loss for Martinez against New York, arguably more painful than last weekend's torching in the Bronx. Boston manager Terry Francona was booed when he finally removed Martinez from the game, shades of Grady Little indeed (sportswriters, start yourlaptops). The Red Sox have all but conceded the division title to New York and now are looking to the playoffs. They know that the wildcard team has won the World Serious for the past two years and they are keeping their eyes on the prize.
But perhaps the strangest post-game development were the comments made by Martinez:
"I wish they would [bleeping] disappear," the three-time Cy Young Award winner said. "Disappear, and never come back.
"I would probably like to face any other team right now. Pitch a good game, make good pitches and still can't beat them? It's frustrating."
... "I thought I pitched a better game today, I made some pretty good pitches and they battled their butt off," Martinez said. "What can I say? Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddies."
... "I wanted to bury myself on the mound. . . . You work so hard, you make good pitches, it doesn't pay off. You make bad pitches, you continue to lose and give it up. It's stupid, it's frustrating." [N.Y.Post]
Calling the Yankees his dadies? Is this some kind of reverse psychology? I don't think so, but it sure is a tabloid's wet dream. While I love it when the Yankees beat Pedro Martinez, I take no pleasure in hearing him sound so shaken. What's so satisfying when the Yankees pull out a win against him is that he's such a fierce, defiant, incorrigible competitor. To hear him sound so defeated just doesn't seem right.