After pounding the Red Sox in the opener (a game in which the Sox went 0-16 with runners in scoring position), the Yanks out-slugged Boston in turned out to be the longest nine-inning game in baseball history, 14-11. While it is too early to tell how Friday's sweep will play-out this weekend--the Sox, after all, can still win the series--the day could not have turned out any better for New York. Oh sure, Sidney Ponson could have sucked less than he did, but his performance will remain largely a footnote, in light of the nights put together by Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, Brian Bruney and Scott Proctor.
Johnny Damon picked-up where he left off in the first game and continued to give Red Sox Nation something to gripe about. But it was Derek Jeter's critical three-run double in the seventh that proved to be the biggest at bat of the game. Jeter was 0-4 when he came to the plate with the bases loaded, two men out and the Yankees trailing by 10-8. Earlier in the game, a foul ball off Jeter's bat injured a fan--the fan would be OK, and Jeter fanned to end the at bat. Now, Mike Timlin fell behind Jeter 1-0 and you could hear a pin drop in Fenway. The silence, the tension, was palpable. And this with the Sox leading by two runs. It was like what Yankee fans would feel if Manny or Ortiz came up in the spot, having gone 0-4 to that point, only more so.
The crowd did not come to life until there were two strikes on Jeter. Bt the Yankee captain worked the count full, fouling off three pitches in the process. Jeter lined the eighth pitch of the at bat into the right field corner, clearing the bases. After Abreu was walked intentionally, Rodriguez doubled sharply past Mike Lowell. The Yanks had a 14-10 lead when all was said and done.
Kyle Farnsworth got beaned with a line drive and had to leave the game, but Proctor prevented any further trouble. Hey, when Mariano Rivera gives up a home run to Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth, and it is essentially meaningless, you know it's been a good night for the Yankees. When Alex Rodriguez makes another routine error in the ninth--in Boston no less--and it is essentially meaningless, it's really been a special night.
New York fans will likely not get too far ahead of themselves--the memories of 2004 still being fresh--but if the Yanks can win one, let alone two of the next three games, the weekend will be considered a success. Biggest game of the year for Josh Beckett. I say he actually shows up today. The question is, what'll the Yanks get from The Big Unit?