When the White Sox scored a couple of runs off Mike Mussina in the top of the first inning this afternoon at the Stadium, it looked as if the great Chicago Hit Parade was picking up where it had left off last night. But the Yankees responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the first, which helped them along to a 7-5 win.
The Yankees are now 4 1/2 up on the Sox, who had the day off. Hey, the Bombers even scored a run on a saftey squeeze, which means Zim was alert and awake and having himself a good day. I watched the game as I packed up over thirty five boxes filled with nothing but books and records. Brother.
Mussina was far from spectacular but he pitched six innings and gave up three runs. Nelson allowed a couple of runs in relief. Gabe White retired his man in the eighth, and Rivera came in to get a four-out save. He got a fly ball to right to end the inning. In the ninth, the Yanks scored an insurance run and then Rivera went to work on the Sox. He jammed Sandy Alomar to lead off the inning. Alomar hit a short pop fly that landed several feet in front of Soriano. When it landed on the infield dirt, that ball spun off to the side like a marble. By the time Soriano fielded it and made the throw to first, Alomar was able to hustle out a single. He twisted his foot in the process and was replaced by a pinch runner.
Rivera then struck out Robbie Alomar on three pitches. The future Hall of Famer didn't stand a chance. After a stolen base, Carlos Lee flied out to left-center field. Bernie Williams covered a decent amount of ground to make the play; runner tagged to third. The Big Hurt came to the plate and smacked the first pitch right at Bernie in center to end the game. Hot dog.
The slumping Godziller Matsui was back in the line up today. Must have had his eel today. Jorge Posada was given the day off and John Flaherty contributed again.
It was a good win for the Yanks. The White Sox made their point. Now, the Bombers head for Boston with Jose Contreras starting against Derek Lowe tomorrow night. Lowe was nasty last Sunday against the M's; Contreras was sharp against the O's in his return outing.
On Saturday, Prince Pedro faces Andy Pettitte, who has a good career mark against Boston. You have to figure that game will be a riveting one. The Yankees have faired relatively well against Martinez, but you can't bank on that: he's just too good. Little bastard. Sunday gives the knuckle baller Tim Wakefield vs. Rocket Clemens. Unless the Sox and the Yanks face each other in the playoffs this could very well be the last time Clemens pitches in Fenway Park.
All in all, it should be a boffo weekend for the greatest rivalry in the East. It's easy to expect a high scoring, back-and-forth game. Or perhaps a devastating pitching performance or two. But no matter what kind of games these two teams play--whether it's a 2-1 pitching duel or a 9-8 slugger's fest---they are almost sure to be tense, dramatic and worth the price of admission.