Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
"If you lose, it's an ugly game, and if you win, it's the best game ever," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who homered and doubled. "You've just got to find a way of winning." (N.Y. Times)
Sleep must not have come easily for either Yankee or Red Sox fans last night. As I lay in bed, still feverish, my adreneline throbbing, I stopped worrying about how tired I would be for work this morning, and concentrated on just how fortunate Yankee fans have been for the past ten years. The state of exhaustion and joy, which borders of nausia, is not an unfamilar sensation. The Yankees had just won another thrilling game in dramatic fashion. That is came at the expense of the Red Sox made it even sweeter. This won't last forever, this kind of success. I try to appreciate every ennervating, wonderful moment of it.
Emily thought I was a crazy man. She didn't know what was going to get broken first--a piece of furniture or my hand. My face was red for most of the second half of the game, and I was cursing up a blue streak. "I thought you said this game didn't matter since we already won the series," she asked innocently. "You don't understaaaaaand," I replied. "This is the Red Sox. Everything is different. Aaargh."
It was one of those games that was hard to piece back together; so many memorable moments stand out. I am not lucid enough to write a logical summary. Here are some of the images that made up this one...Gary Sheffield stepping out of the batter's box twice in his first at bat vs Pedro Martinez, then Martinez promptly drilling him in the shoulder. Sheffield walked to first, glared at Pedro and said, "Not me." Tony Clark hitting a two-run homer off Martinez, and then Jorge Posada, long Martinez's whipping boy, smashing a solo shot into the upper deck in right field. David Ortiz blooping a double just beyond the reach of Hideki Matsui, followed by Manny Ramirez's homer off of Brad Halsey. The Yankee rookie pitching more than admirably. Kenny Lofton's error in center field. Pokey Reese making a sensational basket catch before tumbling into the stands along the third base side; Alex Rodriguez making a great diving play on a liner hit by Reese in the fifth. Later, Rodriguez snaring a liner off the bat of the Greek God of Walks. Sheffield almost blowing a routine fly ball in right field.
Then the drama...Ruben Sierra's terrible pinch-hit at bat with the bases loaded. Later, Sierra allowing a fly ball to drop in front of him for a single. Jason Giambi striking out weakly. Alex Rodriguez's brilliant double play, robbing Kevin Millar of a double and nailing Gabe Kapler at the plate, with the bases loaded an nobody out vs. Mariano Rivera. "Triple play, a triple play," I yelled, echoing Michael Kay on the YES network. No, calm down, chill, it's a double play, dude.
Derek Jeter's courageous catch, taking a hit away from Trot Nixon, sacrificing his body, and adding to his legend in the process. Gary Sheffield getting hit for a second time, then later playing third base. Manny's blast--Pie-yah!--off of Tanyon Sturtze. Nomar Garciaparra--who did not play--sitting alone, sullen, apart from his teammates. How did that make Red Sox fans feel? Then Ruben Sierra's single, Miguel Cairo's double (on a 1-2 pitch), and finally, John Flaherty's game-winning single.
Gary Sheffield told the New York Times:
"The message is clear," Sheffield said. "We're not laying down for no one. We're trying to take it all. We're trying to send a message to everyone we play. Everyone was jacked up for this series. We wanted to sweep, and we did."
Still, Joe Torre was upset when Gary Sheffield was plunked for the second time, and Curt Leskanic wasn't tossed. Earlier, both teams had been warned. According to Newsday:
"The situation is a runner on third base in an extra-inning game," Torre said. "I'm not going to tell Terry [Francona] how to manage, for sure. That's certainly his business. But you hit Sheffield with the first pitch and then walk the next guy. That makes it a little suspicious, especially when the next hitter is an inexperienced kid named Bubba Crosby."
..."I don't understand why you would want to pitch to our hottest hitter with the winning run at third base," Torre said. "That doesn't make sense to me. It's a travesty. An absolute travesty."
Regardless, the Yankees swept Boston and are now eight-and-a-half games in first place. Both teams played their guts out last night. It was a crushing loss for the Sox and another elating one for the Yankees.
Cliff Corcoran was at the Stadium. He should have an incredible post up later in the day. For a coherent and articulate account of the game, head over to The Hardball Times and read Larry Mahken's excellent write up. Expect another stellar report from Joe Sheehan later today at Baseball Prospectus.
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