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2007-09-16 23:35
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

It was a crisp, autumnal New England night in the major leagues' oldest ballpark last night as two old warhorses, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, took the mound against one another for the first time since Game Seven of the 2001 World Series. Nearly six years have gone by since then, and both pitchers have lost nearly as many miles per hour off their famous fastballs, but they turned back the clock last night for a stirring pitchers' duel that recalled not only that famous finale in Phoenix, but also, albeit to a lesser degree, Clemens' legendary duel with Pedro Martinez on Sunday night baseball the year before.

Clemens, who hadn't pitched in nearly two weeks and left his last start after struggling through four innings due to elbow pain, was a bit tentative in the first inning. Clemens started the game with three straight balls to rookie Jacoby Ellsbury. On 3-1, Ellsbury lifted a soft fly to left that Johnny Damon lost in the lights to put the Red Sox's leadoff man on base. After Dustin Pedroia flew out to right, Ellsbury stole second on the first pitch to David Ortiz, setting up what might have been an intentional unintentional walk by Clemens. Mike Lowell then stroked a single to left to plate Ellsbury. Clemens retired the next two men on four pitches, but it took a spectacular play by Doug Mientkiewicz that saw him first dive toward the foul line to glove a hard hopper off the bat of Jason Varitek, then dive to beat Varitek to the bag to get Clemens out of the inning. The Rocket settled down from there. Hitting 93 on the ESPN gun and showing good movement on his slider, Clemens didn't allow another hit until Lowell again followed a walk to Ortiz with a single in the sixth. Along the way Clemens struck out Ortiz, Lowell, J.D. Drew, and Varitek in order amid a streak of retiring eleven straight batters in a row.

Meanwhile, Schilling allowed just two singles through the first four innings before Robinson Cano led of the fifth by taking an 88-mile-per hour fastball up and away and depositing it in the Monster Seats in left for a game-tying homer (shades of Alfonso Soriano's tie-breaking shot in 2001).

Clemens escaped his jam in the sixth when Johnny Damon made up for his first-inning error with a sliding catch on a sinking liner by Varitek to end the inning. Though Clemens had only allowed two hits and one unearned run to that point and thrown only 87 pitches through six, Joe Torre--who made all the right moves all night, including giving Mientkiewicz his first start since coming off the DL--decided to take no chances and go straight to Joba Chamberlain in the seventh. Chamberlain gave up a leadoff double to Eric Hinske, who was promptly bunted to third by Coco Crisp, but recovered to strike out Julio Lugo on four pitches and get Ellsbury to ground into another excellent play by Mientkiewicz to maintain the tie.

Schilling entered the eighth inning having allowed just one run on three hits and thrown just 69 pitches through the first seven. He then struck out Melky Cabrera to start the eighth (Melky, incidentally, is 1 for his last 27 with eight Ks and no RBIs). Doug Mientkiewicz followed with his second single of the night at which point Torre again went for the jugular. Despite the fact that Jorge Posada started at DH and the Yankees have inexplicably not called up a third catcher, Torre sent Jason Giambi to the plate to hit for Jose Molina. On a 2-2 pitch, Schilling sawed Giambi's bat off at the handle with a 93-mile-per-hour cut fastball up and in, but the ball trickled foul. Giambi then cracked the next pitch, a breaking pitch on the outside corner, off the top of the Green Monster, missing a two-run homer by a couple of feet, for a double that pushed Mientkiewicz to third. With Bronson Sardinha running for Giambi, Schilling sawed off Damon as well, getting a weak ground ball that Dustin Pedroia fielded in on the grass for the second out. Mientkiewicz held on the play, likely due to the confusion of bat shards flying through the infield. That brought Derek Jeter to the plate with the go-ahead run on third and two outs.

Jeter missed badly on a breaking pitch low and away to start the at-bat, then took a pair of fastballs away, the first of them clocking in at 95-miles-per-hour, to get ahead 2-1. Jason Varitek then went to the mound to talk things over with his pitcher. As Jeter stood waiting at the plate with holding his bat on his shoulder with his right hand, he began to smirk. Schilling's next pitch was a splitter low and away, which Jeter fouled off with a check swing. That brought Varitek back out to the mound. Schilling came back with another 95-mile-per-hour heater up in the zone which Jeter flared foul just two rows deep where the seats angle toward fair territory down the first-base line. As Varitek took a third trip to the mound, the smirk returned to Jeter's face. Schilling's next pitch was another fastball, but one that was ten miles per hour slower and belt-high on the inside corner. Jeter turned on it and creamed it to the last row of the Monster Seats for a game-breaking three-run home run that drove Schilling from the game.

With Posada catching, Chamberlain gave up his first major league earned run in the bottom of the eighth when Mike Lowell took a letter-high 98-mile-per-hour fastball over the Monster, but Joba struck out two of the other three batters he faced, both on his seldom used curve ball, and got David Ortiz to fly out to left. That gave Mariano Rivera a two-run lead to protect in the ninth.

Mo had an off night, however, and started the ninth by walking Varitek on seven pitches. A pair of ground balls moved Varitek to third, but also put the Yankees one out away from the win. Then Julio Lugo crushed a head-high heater into the gap in left for an RBI double. Mo's next pitch hit Ellsbury in the left kneecap. Pedroia then battled back from an 0-2 hole to work a nine-pitch walk and bring David Ortiz to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a chance to win the game with a well-placed single, or tie it with a walk.

Joe Torre went to the mound to meet with Rivera and his infielders. Then Rivera went back to work. The best place to pitch Ortiz is in on his hands and that's exactly where Posada set up for the first pitch. Rivera's offering, however, drifted toward the outer part of the plate and Ortiz fouled the 95-mile-per-hour fastball back for strike one. Rivera then hit Posada's target with another fastball low and away for ball one. Jorge Posada then set up under Ortiz's hands again, but Rivera floated a letters-high fastball over the plate for ball two. As a smirk came across Joe Torre's face in the dugout, Posada set up under Ortiz's hands again and Rivera threw a fastball right on the inside corner that Ortiz grounded just foul outside of first base where it was gloved by Mientkiewicz, who was playing on the line. Finally, on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Rivera hit Posada's target with a cutter up and in on Ortiz's hands that Papi muscled to shallow center. Derek Jeter, who was playing at normal depth, unlike the last time Rivera faced a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth of a game started by Clemens and Schilling, hauled it in for the final out to seal the 4-3 win.

And so the Yankees take the series and five of six from the Red Sox over the last three weeks and maintain their 2.5-game lead (three in the loss column) over the Tigers, who swept the Twins over the weekend. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Jim Thome hit a walk-off tater to beat the Angels and join the 500-home run club, thus preserving the tie between the Indians and Halos for the second seed in the American League. Cleveland and Detroit now face of four three games at the Jake starting tonight. Yankee fans should be pulling hard for Cleveland to pull of an unlikely sweep in that series. As for the Yanks, only a bakers' dozen against the cupcakes stands between them and a thirteenth-straight playoff berth.

Comments (62)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-09-17 04:57:37
1.   williamnyy23
The Yankees can't let up against Baltimore. They absolutely need a sweep. With the Tigers playing Cleveland, this series is the chance to fatten the lead a little before the tough pitching matchups in Toronto. Hopefully, the Indians will help out because while KC might take a game over the weekend, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Tigers sweep out the anemic Twins and White Sox next week.
2007-09-17 05:12:23
2.   Sliced Bread
Great recap, Cliff. The final Jeter and Ortiz at-bats were epic. Baseball at its finest. Those dramatic at-bats are the reason I think baseball is superior to football. Conferences at the mound, cutaways to the dugout, thrilling short stories.

I've got to give Dougie Defense his due. Came up big last night.

Way to go to Giambi, Joe, and way to come through Jason!

Tip of the cap to Clemens. I had doubts about him all week and he pitched a terrific game. Hope he didn't leave it all on the Fenway mound.

Did I have too much tabasco in my bean dip, or did Joe say in his ESPN interview that he was considering Joba possibly available for 3 innings before deploying him for two? Tells me the Joba Rules won't mean much next month.

Good thing Joba broke his cherry last night. Glad it was against a contender, and a good hitter. Gave him a taste of what the game is all about: bouncing back.
Worth noting Lowell has had no problem handling Joba. File that away for future use, Joba.

Finally, Jeter. Captain Jeter. Thank you again. Can't thank you enough.

2007-09-17 05:36:24
3.   Sliced Bread
Clemens and Schilling weren't the only athletes who turned back the clock yesterday. Hello again, O.J. in cuffs.
2007-09-17 05:46:54
4.   3rd gen yankee fan
I'd like to give props to Joe as well. For as much as I bitch about him, he sure made all the right moves last night.
2007-09-17 05:49:04
5.   rbj
Yup, I wonder if nomaas is going to start a Torre wins section. Gutsy move to dump the DH position, glad it worked out.

They'll probably keep the Joba rules for September, then dump them for October.

2007-09-17 06:06:29
6.   Sliced Bread
0 I'm pretty sure that wasn't an intentional unintentional walk issued to Ortiz in the first. Clemens barked at the ump for squeezing him on ball 4. Looked like Rocket was going after Ortiz there, and was trying to work the edges.
2007-09-17 06:22:05
7.   OldYanksFan
"I've got to give Dougie Defense his due. Came up big last night"
Yes.... But FUCK HIM for getting 2 hits! {:-)

Jetes has come up BIG in both Boston series... but everywhere else he has been terrible. I'm not down on him, I just think his last month's numbers are easy to replace. What a healthy Jeter offers in the PS however, can't be replaced. I hope Torre has this in mind.

Can someone here tell me why Torre is not playing Giambi at DH more? He rests Posada by DHing him while Giambi sits?

I have to give big Kudos to Clemens. Both Pettitte and Wang got beat up. For all the heroics of Stink, Giambi and Jetes, this was Rogers win. Althought I don't think we win if Stink isn't at 1B.

2007-09-17 06:24:38
8.   rsmith51
7 Opportune time to play Minky. I like Minky as a defensive replacement to protect a lead and Giambi if the Yanks are trailing or tied. I think balancing their playing time will be pretty important over the next 13 games.
2007-09-17 06:51:50
9.   monkeypants
2 Great comments! I love the agonistic aspect of baseball, especially in a close game. The pitcher has to deliver the ball to the hitter--there is no running out the clock.

5 Yes, Torre deserves credit, but losing the DH in the eighth was not really that gutsy (or at least it shouldn't have been)--it was a no brainer. The odds that the spot would come up again was very slim. If the Yankees took the lead, then the spot would never come up again, unless they batted around by the ninth (that is, scored even more runs), at which point the DH would have marginal value. Even if the DH came up in a critical spot, Torre could have double switched. And even if Boston came back to tie and the Yankees were shut down on offense, the DH spot would not appear again until the 10th (probably), but again, Torre could have double switched.

2007-09-17 06:54:35
10.   monkeypants
7 Agreed. The way Matsui is slumping it would make sense to sit him for a couple of days and get Giambi in the lineup, even if that means a bit more Minky. Normally I would not argue for playing Minky, but since he will play whether Giambi sits or DHs, I would rather the latter.

Also, the occasional Betemit at SS would be nice. Hopefully they can add a couple of games to the lead and give Torre some leeway to sit Jeter for a piece.

2007-09-17 07:20:23
11.   Yankee Fan In Boston
the moment mo let a runner on, i started to do the math, trying to figure out if ortiz would possibly have the chance to beat us.

sweating bullets.

...mo & jeter...

as it should be.

god, i love baseball. i even love the ulcers i have because of this game.

2007-09-17 07:32:33
12.   Yankee Fan In Boston
did anybody else see this?:

"While warming up in the eighth inning, he was accidentally struck on his right elbow by a ball thrown in the Red Sox bullpen. According to Ron Villone, Rivera "couldn't feel his arm."

http://tinyurl.com/38kq5w
(on the second page)

that makes that inning even more impressive.

2007-09-17 07:33:22
13.   Yankee Fan In Boston
oh... that was mariano who was beaned in the arm. sorry.
2007-09-17 07:35:24
14.   weeping for brunnhilde
0 Thanks for a superb and very lively recap Cliff, as always.

I missed all but the bottom of the ninth, but now I feel caught up.

Question, though: you say Joba didn't throw many sliders. I recall maybe two or three appearances ago he kept missing with the slider and seemed to start throwing more fastballs. Was tonight the same? Did he not spot it well and then abandon it, or did he just come out throwing heat?

The double he allowed to Hinske was high heat, I presume?

2007-09-17 07:35:56
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
11 Hear, hear.
2007-09-17 07:36:23
16.   Bama Yankee
3 Good one, Sliced.
OJ was even quoted as saying:
"I thought what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas?"
2007-09-17 07:38:20
17.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oh, and what's the deal with Melky?

He seems to be swinging and missing an awful lot, which suggests his slump is due to diminished batspeed?

Would it make sense to rest him a little?

We can't have him slumping away with Hideki.

And as to Derek, do we think he's out of his funk, or has he just managed to get a hold of a couple?

Have his ab looked more consistent of late?

2007-09-17 07:38:56
18.   Zack
12 Sounds suspicious to me! Do they have Karim Garcia in their BP??
2007-09-17 07:44:28
19.   Just fair
That curveball Joba used to strike out Pedroia was ridiculous. The replay showed Dustin take his huge stride ready to cut at the country hardball, only to see Uncle Charlie bend across the outside corner. He must have walked away thinking, "You've gotta be kidding me." Awesome.
2007-09-17 07:45:04
20.   Chyll Will
18 That would explain Okajima and Papelbon on Friday >;)
2007-09-17 07:46:42
21.   williamnyy23
14 I don't that's accurate. He actually threw more quite a few sliders. The following is from memory, so it could be off a little:

In the Hinske AB, he missed with three straight sliders before giving up a double on a 3-2 fastball; in the Lugo AB he got ahead with two sliders and blew him away wit a fastball; and in the Elsbury AB he threw at least one slider before getting the ground out on a fastball. Then, in the 8th, he put Pedroia away with a curve ball; got Ortiz to pop out on a fastball; gave up a HR on a 98mph heater up in the zone; and ended the inning striking out Drew on a slider after getting ahead with two fastballs.

2007-09-17 07:47:49
22.   weeping for brunnhilde
19 Sends a cheap thrill up my spine just imagining it.
2007-09-17 07:51:13
23.   Sliced Bread
17 Melky could use a blow, in the parlance of the game.

Jeter, for sure. He's hobbled. Probably best if he sits a game per series, but he won't.

2007-09-17 07:51:28
24.   williamnyy23
17 Melky's 2007 season is following the same pattern as 2006. He struggled for the forst two months, turned it on in the summer months and then slumped badly in September. Either Melky really likes hitting in warm weather, or he takes a while to find his swing and then tires out after the dog days. He is still only 22, so he is presumably still getting stronger and learning how to deal with the rigors of a full major league. Still, at this point, he is a league average bat with plus defense in CF. If I was the Yankees, I would even entertain thoughts for Hunter and Jones this off season.
2007-09-17 07:51:54
25.   Yankee Fan In Boston
18 who?
2007-09-17 07:52:02
26.   weeping for brunnhilde
21 Thanks, william.

So either he missed by a mile to Hinske with those three sliders or Hinkske has a great eye/plate discipline not to offer at any of them.

Or maybe he was guessing.

He got ahead of Lugo with two sliders, that's great. Swinging, looking?

Wow, he got Ortiz to pop out on a fastball. Must have been similar to the one Mo got him on? Up around the chin?

Wow, so he got ahead of Drew with fastballs.

So this is great, he can get ahead with sliders or fastballs and use the other as the out pitch.

Wow.

Just wow.

2007-09-17 07:53:52
27.   weeping for brunnhilde
24 Heaven forfend!

Who's talking about Hunter or Jones?

Melkman is our guy.

He stays.

When his body fills out, he'll be a monster.

2007-09-17 07:54:05
28.   Yankee Fan In Boston
23 re: jeter resting.
i agree. he should sit a couple out down the stretch, but joe has to duct tape him to the bench to get him out of the lineup, and now jeter can say that he's swinging a hot bat in his defense.

the captain is probably going to play everyday, for better or worse.

2007-09-17 07:56:00
29.   Alex Belth
The fact that Joba dropped curve balls on Pedroia and Drew for strike three just isn't fair. The one to Pedroia was especially tough. Mmmmmm!
2007-09-17 07:56:24
30.   yankz
Man, I got jittery just reading the recap.

20 I knew you'd be back.

2007-09-17 08:00:10
31.   tommyl
Great recap Cliff. When Ortiz came up, and then Joe went to the mound I had flashbacks to 2001 ("just get one"). When Ortiz muscled that pop-up I actually thought for a second it'd drop in if they were playing in. Freakin' amazing game.
2007-09-17 08:00:56
32.   yankz
Dustin Pedroia, still a moron (from http://tinyurl.com/2kxlyz):

---It was a classic confrontation between, as Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia put it, "the best clutch hitter in baseball, bottom line, facing the best closer of all-time."---

Hey buddy, were you watching the game last night?

2007-09-17 08:01:17
33.   weeping for brunnhilde
'Cause you know, as I recall, even Randy Johnson in his prime didn't really use the slider to get ahead. He'd back-door it for a called strike sometimes, but usually he'd just get ahead with the heat and then bury you with the slider.
2007-09-17 08:02:43
34.   Schteeve
22 The best thing about the Pedroia K was that it seemed like Pedroia was walking back to the dugout before the ump even called it a strike. He knew he had just been chumped.
2007-09-17 08:05:36
35.   Schteeve
Alex, I love that you picked up on the Jeter smirk. It was so classic Jeter. And, I haven't watched the replay but I could swear that as Jeter ran up the first base line after hitting it out, he gave a little look towards Schilling as if to say, "Wanna have another little meeting with Varitek about that one?"
2007-09-17 08:10:57
36.   yankz
From yankees.com: Clemens said that "for the most part," his arm was fine, although he added: "I still have some work to do with it."

Not as encouraging as you'd want it to be.

2007-09-17 08:11:38
37.   yankz
I hate to admit it, but Joe Morgan was right at the beginning of the game last night. I'm glad Rocket was on the mound. Not many guys can step up like that, and to do it while injured is awesome.
2007-09-17 08:14:04
38.   Jersey
32 He was talking about Ortiz vs. Mo, right?
2007-09-17 08:15:03
39.   Jersey
Not that I disagree about your assessment of Schmendroia.
2007-09-17 08:17:11
40.   Yankee Fan In Boston
37 rocket should have had a bloody sweatband around his elbow... could you imagine? close your eyes. picture it.

oh, sweet reciprocity....

2007-09-17 08:18:26
41.   Chyll Will
30 You know too much, my friend >;) I guess I have to agree with YFB and the number of other junkies here, just when I think I've gotten out, they keep pulling me back in! Puns and swinging at straight lines, not to mention inside-outing a stray comment are my specialty as you well know, so call me an idiot for thinking I could stay away from you guys for long, thas' all...

so, um.. who won the game?

2007-09-17 08:20:49
42.   Chyll Will
41 Just teasing, Cliff... Awesome recap, as usual >;)
2007-09-17 08:23:07
43.   Orly Yarly NoWai
32 I know who the closer is, but I thought Tony Fernandez and Paul Molitor were both retired...
2007-09-17 08:23:08
44.   AbbyNormal821
40 I expect a superimposed picture from Bama on that any second now!
2007-09-17 08:26:25
45.   Yankee Fan In Boston
44 wow. poor bama is being put to work on a daily basis. this is what happens when you're good at what you do.
2007-09-17 08:27:01
46.   Sliced Bread
41 Who won?

If you ask Sox fans they'll tell you the Patriots won, and they'll remind you the end of summah is, as always, Francona's fault.

2007-09-17 08:29:41
47.   kdw
35 Perhaps you mean Cliff?
2007-09-17 08:35:57
48.   Chyll Will
40 18/4 = 4½ ?
2007-09-17 08:45:40
49.   Yankee Fan In Boston
48 i am utterly lost.
2007-09-17 08:46:27
50.   Chyll Will
46 "Dere's a place up in de hills and mountin's up dere in de noth'east... 'God's Coun'tree' dey callit... f'wut I's told deys a rivah run troo-it... dey call it won thang or anudder, but I knows whudditis... DE NILE!"
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-09-17 08:48:42
51.   Chyll Will
Reciprocity? Maybe not; it's been a while since math basics. Maybe if I turn right side on it's head...
2007-09-17 08:51:01
52.   Yankee Fan In Boston
51 oh...

sorry.

math and i don't get along.

2007-09-17 08:57:21
53.   Chyll Will
52 Talk with Yankz, he'll smooth everything over for you two >;)
2007-09-17 09:07:17
54.   williamnyy23
26 The Hinske sliders were thrown hard and kept diving into Hinske. Hinske, at this stage, seems to hang over the plate looking to drive balls the other way. Hinske was swinging at anything inside, whether it was a strike or not. He just got lucky that all three sliders dove off the plate.

He got ahead of Lugo with two sliders called for a strike. Lugo seemed as if he was intent on slapping a fastball the other way and seemed suprised by the slider. He then completely blew Lugo away with a fastball, so much so Molina actually pumped his fist (as if to say, I love it when a plan comes together).

The fastball to Ortiz was so impressive because it came on a 2-0 pitch with no one on base. In other words, everyone knew it was coming. Still, Ortiz could neither get on top or around on it. The result was a meak pop to the left center.

The most impressive AB was to Pedroia. After getting ahead, Dusty fouled a pitch or two off (I think I recall), after which Joba dropped in a 79mph curve referenced in 19 . Pedroia was on his way to the bench before the ump called him out.

2007-09-17 09:11:57
55.   NJYankee41
It is very exciting thinking about Joba as a starter after seeing a very high quality 3rd pitch with that curve he was throwing.
2007-09-17 09:13:51
56.   spufi2007
12 Yankee fan in Boston -- I'm not sure anybody responded to you.

I saw that in the NY Post this morning.

Any chance that the errant throw may have been purposeful?

2007-09-17 09:25:41
57.   Chyll Will
Series wrap is up, ladies and gentlemen, let's go!
2007-09-17 09:31:17
58.   weeping for brunnhilde
54 Cheers, william!
2007-09-17 10:06:37
59.   Yankee Fan In Boston
56 i'd guess that if it appeared to be intentional, a stink would've been raised.

(if the sox really wanted to take mo out, they'd probably just send tavarez over there, telling him that mo was talking about his momma.)

i was just impressed that mo pitched that well with a numb arm. there is almost nothing that guy can not do.

2007-09-17 10:58:12
60.   3rd gen yankee fan
19 Wasn't that beautiful?

weeping, it was like, all your friends are out drinking and they see a beautiful woman walk by. You come by later and they just can't describe the experience.

I would marry that curveball.

2007-09-17 11:20:43
61.   Bama Yankee
40 & 44
Here you go:
http://i13.tinypic.com/68i57j6.jpg
2007-09-17 11:22:16
62.   rilkefan
26 You can get a lot of that or maybe all of that info from MLB gameday:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/scoreboard/20070916.html

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