Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
With game one in the proverbial books—that's not a book on proverbs, but rather..well, you understand—I just wanted to go over the more salient point of the game and take stock of the series going forward:
They won, that's the bottom line.
Mike Mussina pitched unbelievably well until he lost it all at once in the seventh.
Mariano Rivera pitched very well under the circumstances, and went over an inning.
Eight different batters got a hit (All but Posada). The 3-4-5 hitters (Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Bernie Williams) went 8-for-14 with five doubles, six runs, and eight RBI (every extrabase hit but the Kenny Lofton HR were from them).
When the Red Sox came back within one, they scored two insurance runs to seal it with Rivera on the mound.
They struck out just three times on the night.
Joe Torre stuck with Mussina and Tom Gordon too long.
Tanyon Sturtze did not pitch well. Gordon had some bad luck but didn't have a great outing.
Hideki Matsui misplayed a couple of balls in left. He overran one and took a bad angle on the other.
Alex Rodriguez, contrary to Tim McCarver's assessment, did not get good at-bats and didn't wake up at the plate until Timlin threw near his head.
Red Sox Pros
They came back to make a game of it even after they were down 8-0 in a perfect game with one out in the seventh.
They didn't expect to win two games in the Bronx. They came close in game one and have something to build on for game two.
They left only two men on base—kind of a mixed bag. Early on, they couldn't buy a hit and later on, they drove in just about every one on base.
Curt Schilling only threw 58 and may be able to go on short rest, but more on that later.
Eight different batters got a hit.
They were able to rally even with two outs.
They showed that the Yankees pen is vulnerable.
Red Sox Cons
Schilling pitched very badly. Whether it was the bone in his ankle or his head, if he cannot quickly recuperate, what should have been a big advantage for the Red Sox, the rotation, could become a big question mark especially with Pedro Martinez facing his "daddy" tonight.
The Red Sox hitters could do nothing against Mussina until he lost it at once in the seventh.
They used seven pitchers. Fatigue could become an issue for the pen later in the series.
Tim Wakefield did not look effective, a big issue if he starts game four.
Of the six relievers, only Alan Embree and Keith Foulke pitched well, and Foulke threw to just one batter while Embree did give up a hit to Cairo in his inning of work. Curtis Leskanic couldn't throw strikes and was bailed out by a stupid Alex Rodriguez first-pitch doubleplay ball. Ramiro Mendoza had no control and was very close to being taking long by Miguel Cairo. Wakefield fluttered his knuckler. Mike Timlin was battling but he did give up three nice deep liners to left.
Manny Ramirez looked comatose in left field. He misplayed about four balls. Some didn’t hurt them, but some did (see log).
Leadoff hitter Johnny Damon struck out each time up, leading to 10 strikeouts by the Sox on the night.
As everyone knows, the pressure is now squarely on Pedro Martinez's shoulders, but that is how he likes it. He may have set it up that way with the "Daddy" statement (or he was merely answering the Zombies' musical question, "Who's your daddy?", and he is "rich like me" if he's the Yanks). Martinez competes like Seabiscuit—he needs the odds against him so he can come from behind—and is almost as smart.
But aside from the Division Series start, he has not been pitching well for a while. He was 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA down the stretch (Sept and Oct). He was 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA against the Yanks this year. Down the stretch, he was 0-2 with a 9.49 ERA against them.
As for the NLCS, Garner is wisely avoiding Pete Munro in game one. Even so, the Astros get a pass for game one after their tough five-game series. Winning game one would be a huge plus for them; losing it wouldn't be the end of the world. Given that their rotation is backloaded, they could even survive a typically disastrous start by Munro in game two.
The big question is who was the moron in the commissioner's office who scheduled the two games at the same time on the same night as the final presidential debate? I joked in the last round that Fox was conspiring to ensure that no one saw Bush's performance in the first debate. Now I'm starting to wonder if that was a joke.
And they are broadcasting a game on FX?!? What about those people without cable? What about those kids that MLB is always worried about? Ah, screw 'em. I just hope that they readied the extra Jeannie Zelasko mannequin for the other network.
Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.