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All Leit
2005-07-18 04:55
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"You have what should be a comfortable lead, but you know that it is not going to wind up that way, for some strange reason," Joe Torre said. "This place, this team, they never stop.
(Newsday)

It was close to a perfect return for Al Leiter last night in Boston as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-3, and won the weekend series. Senator Al, wearing number 19 in honor of former teammate Dave Righetti, pitched into the seventh inning, striking out eight, allowing just one run, and walking only three. Leiter was able to throw strikes and he was also able to get the Red Sox to swing at balls that weren't strikes. Tim Wakefield surrendered five hits to the Yankees, but they all went for extra bases, two doubles and three home runs. Jorge Posada and Gary Sheffield hit two-run dingers, and Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot in the eighth.

The surprisingly brisk game slowed down for some predictable drama in the bottom half of the ninth. Tom Gordon started the inning with New York up 5-1. After getting ahead of Manny Ramirez, Gordon hung a breaking ball that Manny promptly deposited over the Green Monster. Kevin Millar walked and in came Rivera. The first two pitches to Trot Nixon were in the strike zone. The first, a fastball, was taken for a strike; the second, a cutter which was fouled off, was right down Broadway. But then Nixon tapped a grounder to second. Robinson Cano fielded the ball cleanly but could not grip the ball properly and wound up throwing it into left field.

Instead of two men out and nobody on, there was nobody out with men on the corners. Jason Varitek pinch-hit for Mirabelli and lined a single past a diving Tino Martinez, scoring Millar to make the score 5-3. Bill Mueller blooped a single to shallow center (making him 5-11 lifetime versus Rivera) and the bases were loaded. Still nobody out. Joe Torre and the entire infield came to the mound. Rivera told them everything was going to be okay. But he fell behind the ninth-place hitter Alex Cora 2-0, and Fenway started to rock. Talk about a tight spot. But Rivera worked the count even and then Cora hit a ground ball on one hop to Rodriguez at third, who, in turn, fired a bullet home to Posada, who then fired to first to complete the double play. The replays showed that Cora was safe, but it was an excellent play by Rodriguez and Posada. (It was the second close play at first of the game--Jason Giambi had been called out earlier in the game.) Two men out, but the tying run was still on second base. Johnny Damon, who had a poor night against Leiter, but nevertheless extended his hitting streak to 29 games (the team record, held by Dom DiMaggio, is 34), was up. Rivera got him to ground out to Cano, and just like that, the game was over.

"Coming into the second half, these are the guys we wanted," said Gary Sheffield, who tomahawked a two-run homer in the third off Tim Wakefield (complete-game five-hitter) for a 4-0 Yankee lead. "We got 'em, and we played well when we needed to."

But, Sheffield added, "I don't want those guys to wake up. We're getting out of here just in time."
(Boston Globe)

It was a big win for the Yankees, who move on to Texas and then Anahiem this week without a day of rest. It's hard to know how many more performances like this Leiter has in him, but if the Yanks can manage to get another half-dozen or so, they would be ecstatic. Perhaps Leiter could eventually come out of the bullpen as a left-handed specialist. Who knows? But one thing is for sure, his return could not have been finer.

Comments
2005-07-18 07:06:08
1.   rsmith51
Someone else mentioned that Torre and ARod were having an animated conversation after the game. I noticed it as well, but I have no idea what they were talking about.
2005-07-18 07:27:06
2.   Schteeve
My lip reading skillz were only able to make out Joe saying, "You know what I mean?" A couple of times. My bet is they were talking about the DP.
2005-07-18 07:39:01
3.   Yanks in NH
Awesome game and awesome weekend series! With the state of our pitching staff and we still just won 3 series in a row against good teams - Baltimore, Cleveland and Boston. Now, we just need to avoid those last place teams where we look like we don't have a clue. I predict we're in 1st before the week is out!
2005-07-18 07:42:31
4.   Alex Belth
Yeah, too bad the Yankees aren't going to be playing any last place teams anytime soon. Have you checked the upcoming schedule?
2005-07-18 07:58:40
5.   DarrenF
Hate to be the first geek to bring it up, but ... it was Alex Cora, Joey's brother, who hit into the DP.

Speaking of Joey Cora, I'm pretty sure he held the Seattle consecutive game hitting streak record until Ichiro came along. Not a bad trivia question, since the obvious guesses would be Junior or ARod ... or Bruce Bochte.

2005-07-18 08:03:42
6.   NetShrine
rsmith - see the Newsday link that Alex has:

Rodriguez checked with Torre to make sure he hadn't goofed [on the DP]. "I said, 'I don't worry about your instincts,"' Torre said. =

2005-07-18 08:42:37
7.   Alex Belth
Let me start this by saying that I like Manny Ramirez and think he's a Hall of Fame offensive player. Since he's not on my team, I don't have to deal with getting steamed when he doesn't run balls out--like when he popped out to Tino Martinez in the middle of the game last night. I can sit back, enjoy watching what a great hitter he is, and appreciate his flakiness.

But the one thing that does get me about his game--and I have a similar reaction to Ortiz as well--is when he hot dogs at inappropriate time. If he hit that dinger to win the game last night, I can understand if he showboated it up. But his team was still down big, and there he was on the bench laughing and smiling. Both Manny and Ortiz are also the guys who turn mad sensitive if anyone tries to push them off of the plate.

Call me cranky, but that kind of stuff doesn't sit well with me.

From Chris Snow's column in the Globe this morning...

"For a few fleeting minutes, it appeared as if the Yankees might have stayed one inning too long. Trailing, 5-1, entering the ninth -- which had seminal moment written all over it -- Manny Ramirez led off with a prodigious blast to left-center off Tom Gordon. He finished his swing with an emphatic flourish that seemed to tick off Posada.

Posada followed Ramirez a few steps up the line, then turned for the third base line, perhaps to say something to Ramirez on his way home. But plate umpire Jerry Meals made sure to occupy Posada as Ramirez completed his trot. The two players did not exchange any words, at least not at that moment.

'We try to play the game the right way,' Posada said later. 'That's the only thing I have to say. You're down by three runs.'"

Amen, Jorge. As Crash Davis once said, "Run Dummy!"

2005-07-18 08:44:35
8.   Alex Belth
Thanks on the Joey-Alex correction, my bad.
2005-07-18 08:45:44
9.   Alex Belth
I shouldn't say that the Red Sox were "down big" after Manny's dinger, just that they were still losing...
2005-07-18 08:55:03
10.   Cliff Corcoran
By the way, I never saw a replay of the DP that fully satisfied me, but from the ones I saw, it looked like Cora was out, or the play was a tie, and despite the conventional wisdom, the tie does not go to the runner. Did someone else see a replay that showed Cora to be clearly safe?
2005-07-18 09:17:01
11.   Ed Fitzgerald
despite the conventional wisdom, the tie does not go to the runner

For the runner to be out on a force play, the fielder has to be in possession of the ball before the runner touches the base, and that means that the ball must beat the runner. If the ball and the runner arrive at precisely the same time (in the umpire's judgment), then the fielder did not have possesion before the runner touched the base, and the runner is safe.

Effectively, that means that a tie does indeed go to the runner.

2005-07-18 09:27:39
12.   Murray
Umpires call plays at first base by watching the runner's foot and listening for the sound of the ball hitting the fielder's glove. It's fundamentally different from what you see on a replay; a ball may look like it's in a fielder's glove, but if it hasn't made a sound, then the ump usually won't call the out. Light travels faster than sound, which compounds the problem.
2005-07-18 09:28:26
13.   22Ryan
Through the magic of Tivo, I will say that Cora was safe. Pausing it with Cora's foot clearly on the bag, you could still see the ball going into Tino's glove.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

2005-07-18 09:29:18
14.   Tommy Boy
I watched the replay several times and he looked safe to me (and I wanted him out).
2005-07-18 09:41:21
15.   The Yankee Ase
There was a close play earlier in the game where Giambi was called out on a virtual tie at first. Guess it all evened out in the end.
2005-07-18 09:46:46
16.   jdrennan
Not that I am complaining about Leiter's performance, but I don't understand if Brown is healthy enough to go tonight, why couldn't he have started last night?
2005-07-18 09:51:41
17.   Tommy Boy
I don't know for sure, but probably days of rest between simulated starts and maybe Joe did not want to pitch him in Boston. He gets a bit over excited at times.
2005-07-18 09:56:30
18.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
Looked safe to me, but than so did Giambi earlier in the game, and the ESPN radio guys -- I missed the Yankee half of the first on tv b/c I was in the car -- thought Jeter was safe at 1st leading off the game.

At least the ump was consistent in giving the benefit of the doubt to the fielding team.

2005-07-18 10:48:57
19.   Cliff Corcoran
Ed, very well stated. Sounds like it was pretty unanimous that Cora was safe. If it makes Sox fans feel any better, I think Mo would have gotten out of it anyway. They made an out at the plate on Cora's ball and could have gotten another out at the plate on Damon's grounder to Tino. Two outs, two run lead, Renteria vs. Rivera. Bases loaded or not, my money's on Mo in that situation.

Jdrennan, Brown threw a bullpen session on Friday. The decision to activate him was based on that bullpen and how he recovered from it on Saturday. They likely wanted him to have two full days of rest between the bullpen session and his start.

2005-07-18 10:49:54
20.   Cliff Corcoran
Sorry, Damon's grounder was to Cano, but he still could have come home for an out.
2005-07-18 10:54:50
21.   BFenwick
I'd have to agree with the Ortiz/Manny showboating. I had issues with Manny 3 times at the plate last night, I think:

* The Homerun: Run the bases and hope that you can somehow get a rally going. Act like the guy you're trying to beat: Has there been a more likeable guy than Rivera?

* The pop-up to Tino. Watching the game, we all thought the ball would end up 30 rows deep in the stands. It was two-feet foul?

* His Single to LF in the 6th. He did his homerun pose while the ball sailed toward the mid-way point of the monster. Should have been an easy double.

Say what you want about the Yankees, but they don't do much of that stuff.

2005-07-18 11:01:04
22.   Tommy Boy
You are right on the money BFenwick - Joe, the players and the organization do a good job of looking and acting like professionals. I am sure that behind the scenes there are a few "coaching sessions" to keep some of guys in line (or they are gone). On field celebrations are also kept on hold until big situations like walk off home runs or playoffs.
2005-07-18 11:08:24
23.   uburoisc
Hey, can we get Hernandez from the Tigers? I think he's just our guy to get Ortiz off the plate. Farnsworth looks like a gamer, too.
2005-07-18 11:19:43
24.   Tommy Boy
Farnsworth just might be a real closer - we'll have to wait and see what happens when Troy gets healthy.

I don't know the Hernandez you are talking about with Detroit?

2005-07-18 11:29:26
25.   uburoisc
Whoops, Hernandez with the Royals, sorry.
2005-07-18 11:38:21
26.   Tommy Boy
Now I am with you - he may be a little over the top for NY - but you are sure right about keeping Ortiz honest, he is the man for the job.
2005-07-18 11:50:32
27.   Cliff Corcoran
I think he meant Willie Hernandez. Willie was a lefty. Runelvys is a righty (as is Kyle Farnsworth).
2005-07-18 12:32:01
28.   Alex Belth
Farnsworth is nothing but a real-deal meathead. You don't want him on your team, especially in a big spot.
2005-07-18 12:32:53
29.   Tommy Boy
Hey Cliff, I think it was a little "tongue in cheek" humour based on the bench clearing brawl between Detroit and KC. Willie has been retired so long his name did not even come to mind.

Jul 18 Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez allowed two hits through five innings before he was ejected after inciting a bench-clearing brawl in the sixth inning against the Tigers Sunday. The skirmish began after Hernandez pegged Carlos Guillen in the helmet, his third hit batter of the game. "What he did is not acceptable," Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez told the Associated Press. "A pitcher cannot throw at a player's head. It's not a good thing to do." Hernandez still managed to win.

2005-07-18 12:34:44
30.   Simone
What about that loud mouth ass swipe Millar kicking Cano? I hope Schilling, the expert on what is "bush league" gives him a lecture about his shitty actions.
2005-07-18 12:38:12
31.   Tommy Boy
Alex - I don't know much about him, except he was an average middle reliever with Chicago. Just looking at his last three outings as a closer, he would appear to have found his niche - at least for one week.
2005-07-18 12:40:52
32.   Tommy Boy
"What about that loud mouth ass swipe Millar kicking Cano? I hope Schilling, the expert on what is "bush league" gives him a lecture about his shitty actions." Simone

Had that been a Yankee, it is all we would have heard this morning.

2005-07-18 12:47:08
33.   uburoisc
I was kidding about Hernandez and Farnsworth, but I am wondering if Farnsworth could lift Ortiz? Every team should have a big, brawling relief pitcher who can take care of accounts; I know the Yanks are not a head-hunting team, and that is to their credit, generally, but having a guy who will throw hard an inch or so from a batter to claim that plate is a must from time to time. What's RicK Mahorn doing these days?
2005-07-18 13:49:57
34.   Alex Belth
Simone, I don't think Millar was trying to spike Cano. I think he was trying to stop dead in his tracks, and in the process, he slipped and fell. The contact with Cano was inadvertant, though the play turned out to be a good one for Boston. (Did Cano ever tagg him out anyway? I know he fell into him, but I don't know if I saw him actually tag him out.)

Farnsworth has a live arm. The guy throws gas, but he's your classic million-dollar-arm, ten-cent head goon. If he's pitching the 6th, 7th inning for your team, you are ok. If you need an extra body always ready to throw bolos, he's your guy. But trusting him with the closer's role? I'm not sold.

2005-07-18 14:25:18
35.   JohnnyC
Alex and Simone, I think the thing with Millar lies somewhere in between. Being a non-athlete, he couldn't stop in his tracks gracefully and fell on his ass. However, he did kick his legs up toward Cano. I guess he figured they were up there flailing, they ought to be put to some use. So, not pre-meditated but certainly Millar's no pollyanna. In fact, he, among a few of the Red Sox, really does the "I'm so stupid I can't possibly have planned anything out" act to a T.
2005-07-18 15:28:45
36.   KYK
No one seems to be talking about how the Yanks pitching managed to keep Ortiz out of the game. Ignoring Friday nights batting practice - I think Ortiz had 3 RBI's over three games, was hitless on Friday and struck out several times.
2005-07-18 15:37:53
37.   KYK
Oops - that should be "hitless on Saturday"
2005-07-18 19:40:25
38.   Ed Fitzgerald
Murray: Umpires call plays at first base by watching the runner's foot and listening for the sound of the ball hitting the fielder's glove. It's fundamentally different from what you see on a replay; a ball may look like it's in a fielder's glove, but if it hasn't made a sound, then the ump usually won't call the out. Light travels faster than sound, which compounds the problem.

I agree that's the way it's done: if they hear the thud before they see the foot on the base, the runner's out -- otherwise, he's safe.

As for the difference between the speed of light and of sound, I don't think it's terribly significant given the dimensions we're talking about, but I'd have to do the math to be certain. I'd rather think that the difference between them falls beneath the human perceptual processing lag-time (the same kind of lag -- although much less in scale -- that gets your fingers burned picking up something hot, because the message doesn't get to the brain quickly enough to react before you're scorched).

As I said, I'd have to look up the figures and do the math, and that seems like a lot of bother, when the bottom really is that the ball has to precede the runner.

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