After an Opening Day blowout, today offered something more like what we're used to seeing from the Yankees and Red Sox: a close game, decided in the final at-bat. Yankee-killer David Ortiz hit a home run (for a change), as did Red Sox-killer, Godzilla Matsui--who had three more hits today. Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity in the ninth inning when Boston's captain Jason Variteck slapped a line-drive homer off of a cutter that just didn't cut (Rivera wasn't terrible, but the Red Sox hitters are extremley comfortable in the box against him; Jim Kaat suggested a little intentional wildness could go a long way...the pitch Varitek hit was straight-as-a-string). Derek Jeter, the Yankee captain, led off the bottom of the inning and returned the favor, belting a full-count fastball over the right center field fence to win it for the New Yorkers.
Matt Clement didn't pitch particularly well for Boston, but man, he's got a live arm. His pitches move a lot. In addition, the ball kind of whips out of his hand at the last moment, which must be brutal for right-handed hitters to pick up. He doesn't look like he's fun to bat against at all. As Joe Sheehan noted over at Baseball Prospectus, Clement has the same kind of sinking fastball that has made Kevin Brown a lot of money over the years. But his control was suspect and he never quite looked comfortable. The Yankees didn't help themselves by leaving a bunch of men on base; not surprisingly, Bernie Williams' timing is all out-of-whack.
Clement looks very much like one of those great line drawings by David Levine. He's got a pointy chin and a wide jaw, and has a certain birdlike quality to him. He reminds me of one of those kids that were a pain in the ass to play pick-up football with as a kid. It's not so much that was hard to tackle because of his speed or weight, but because he's all knees and elbow. Clement also looks very much like a boy, somewhere in the developmental ages between 8-14. He's sporting a goatee, but I get the sense that he doesn't know what his true style is yet. I was talking to Alex Ciepley this evening, and he said that Clement is one of the most uncomfortable players he's ever seen.
Pavano, on the other hand, is a complete load. I keep forgetting how big the guy is. With blunt, dark features, he has a deliberate move to the plate, and a long, bulky motion. I know Bobby Valentine nicknamed him "The Italian Stallion" over the winter, but the only name I can think of when I see Pavano, is "Meat."
Anyhow, it was a warm and sunny day in New York, the best day of the spring thus far. The final score made it even nicer.