Josh Beckett wears number 19 on his back and now he's got a matching figure on his ledger as he dropped a gem on the Yankees to earn his major league-leading 19th win of the season. Beckett held the Yankees to three hits and just six base runners while striking out seven in seven innings, the one blemish on his line being a solo homer to dead center by Derek Jeter in the first inning. That would be the only run the Yanks would score all evening as Mike Timlin and Bryan Corey swept up the final two innings.
Chien-Ming Wang, meanwhile, was off his game. Wild up in the zone, Wang gave up singles to three of the first four batters he faced to allow the Red Sox to tie the game in the first. In the third he walked the bases loaded with two outs as David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew took 16 straight pitches (only four were strikes), but Jason Varitek swung at the first pitch and popped out to preserve the tie. Wang worked a 1-2-3 fifth, but all three outs came on fly balls to center (he'd have more fly ball outs than ground ball outs on the night). Wang got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to start the fifth, but after getting ahead 0-2 on Kevin Youkilis, he lost one up and in which caught Youkilis in the back wrist. The Jewish God of Squawks immediately flew in to his usual cursing and complaining routine and left the game with what was ultimately diagnosed as a bruise. Fleet-footed rookie Jacoby Ellsbury was put in to run and eventually came around to score on singles by Ortiz and Drew, giving the Sox a one-run lead after five.
Things got worse in the sixth. Erik Hinske, who had started in left and moved to first after Youkilis left the game, led off the sixth with a double. Coco Crisp followed with a single to center that pushed Hinske to third. After a Julio Lugo fly out, Crisp took second uncontested. Pedroia then grounded to Robinson Cano who was pulled in to try to cut off the run. He did just that. Despite Jorge Posada gesturing for him to go to first, Cano whipped a throw home which Posada caught as he fell to his knees and got positively flattened by Hinske. Hinske hit Posada high across the chest with a forearm, knocking Jorge's mask and helmet clean off, but Posada held the ball for the second out of the inning. It was all for naught, however, as Crisp took third on the play, Pedroia stole second uncontested, and Ellsbury and Ortiz singled them both home, with Ellsbury scoring from first on Ortiz's single as Jorge Posada, despite perfectly blocking the plate, forgot to actually make the tag. That made it 5-1 and drove Wang from the game.
In the seventh, Edwar Ramirez, who had struck out Mike Lowell to end the sixth, walked J.D. Drew, then struck out Jason Varitek, then was inexplicably pulled so that Ron Villone, who hadn't faced a major league batter since August 21, could pitch to the lefty Hinske. Villone, of course, walked Hinske on five pitches. Torre then called in Brian Bruney, who earned the lineup card the night before with a crucial scoreless inning that set up the big comeback. On this night, however, he gave up a ground rule double down the right field line to Coco Crisp that scored Drew, and walked Lugo on four pitches before striking out Pedroia. Torre then tried another lefty matchup with Sean Henn, whose only major league appearance since being recalled saw him fail to get an out on Friday night, against Ellsbury and Ortiz. Henn gave up a two-RBI single to Ellsbury to officially put the game out of reach at 9-1, then walked Ortiz to load the bases for good measure. That allowed Torre to go to Ross Ohlendorf, who walked Mike Lowell to force in a run on four pitches, but then proceeded to strike out four of the next five batters he faced (though he did also allow a solo homer to Hinske in the eighth).
Somewhat fittingly, Bronson Sardinha made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in the eighth, then, in his first major league plate appearance, swung at the first pitch and ground into a game-ending double play in the ninth. Final score 10-1 Sox, who erased any lingering doubts about their winning the division with the victory.
Elsewhere in the Cy Young race, Johan Santana gave up four runs in the first inning to the Tigers, who currently hold a 4-2 lead in Minnesota in the bottom of the fifth.
Saying that FOX is terrible at broadcasting baseball games is like saying that puppies are cute. There's no one left to convince, but the first inning of today's game provided a sharp contrast between FOX and the outstanding job that the YES Network does. As Bobby Abreu fought the sun in right field, Tim McCarver made several references to Lou Piniella's stab play in the Bucky Dent game in 1978, but FOX never ran the clip, even after Abreu made a similar (though not nearly as miraculous) stop on a ball he cleary couldn't see. YES would have shown that replay on first mention. What's more, McCarver kept talking about how Abreu was shielding his eyes with his glove prior to each pitch, but it took FOX took several pitches to show a shot of Abreu, finally doing so in a split-screen just as Wang was delivering a pitch, reducing Lowell's game-tying RBI single to a box half the size of the screen. YES would have shown Abreu immediately, doing so between pitches, then cutting back to the full-screen center field camera shot as Wang kicked and delivered.
Pete Abe piles on:
"I see Dane Cook in the Fox booth. What a time to not have a hand grenade. I remember hearing about him last year, wondering what all the fuss was about and then watching his show on HBO. It was brutal.
I used to get comedy albums when I was a kid. Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield. Those guys were funny. Dane Cook is like a drunk guy at a bar at 2 a.m. who thinks he's funny and he's not.
But some marketing whiz at MLB figures he's down with the kids and they hire him to do promos. You know who should do promos? Roberto DeNiro. Everybody likes DeNiro. Or Denzel Washington. Who doesn't like him? Get Jay-Z. But Dane Cook?"
Or Don Cheadle, who did a great job with those NFL promos. What Pete fails to mention is that Dane Cook and MLB on FOX were made for each other, both are loud and completely unqualified to do what they're doing.