Mike Mussina pitched brilliantly for the Yankees for eight innings last night, and entered the ninth with a 5-1 lead. Mussina was economical, and masterly, and while his counterpart Derek Lowe wasn't terrible, the Yankees got to him early, and it appeared as if the Yanks would cruise to their second straight victory over Boston. Mussina came out to pitch the ninth, promptly walked Jason Varitek, and gave up a single to Johnny Damon. Enter Mariano Rivera and pass the Malox. These are the same Red Sox who have made a habit of late-inning comebacks, and they lived up to their reputation. Before you know it, the game was tied, and if not for a broken play---which resulted in Alfonso Soriano throwing out Shea Hillenbrand at home, the Sox would have snagged the lead. Instead the score was now tied at five.
I had a bad feeling after Nomar slapped a single right under Derek Jeter's glove---how did he miss that? It is still May, and this is the time of year when the Red Sox win these kinds of games. I paced around my apartment, and thought of that somewhere Ed Cossette was sharing my pain: the same, but different.
With one out in the bottom the ninth, HI-deki Matsui laced a double to left field off of Brandon Lyon, and he advanced to third on a throwing error by Manny Ramirez. The Sox the intentionally walked Soriano and Jason Giambi to load the bases for Jorgie Posada. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had a flashback to last July when Posada faced Ugie Urbina in the same situation.
I was sure he would hit into a double play. (Oh, ye of little faith.) The 2-2 pitch from Lyon was called a ball, and the Red Sox were understandably steamed about the call after the game:
''It's on tape,'' [Sox manager, Grady] Little said, ''just like a countryful of people saw it on ESPN.''
It sure looked close enough to be a strike to me. Of course, Posada walked on the next pitch and the Yankees escaped with a 6-5 win. How could I not think back on what Allen Barra said a few days ago:
I would not be surprised to see the Yankees beat them two out of three, or even sweep the Sox. I'm not saying it's going to happen, I'm saying it wouldn't surprise me. The Red Sox are the only team right now, who are capable of turning themselves into a worse team than the Yankees.