Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
"Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it"
—Pedro "El Cobarde" Martinez (that's "coward" in Spanish)
The Yankees beat the Red Sox in improbable fashion tonight with an eleventh-inning walk-off home run by Aaron Boone, 6-5. The win was improbable because the Yankees once trailed 4-0 with Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez cruising.
The Red Sox led 5-2 with one out in the bottom of the eighth with Martinez in control. The Fox crew was ramping up its salute to the Red Sox in anticipation of their appearance in the Fall Classic. The Yankees had just five outs left and Derek Jeter had seemed ready to be expend one, after falling behind 0-2 while being made to look silly in doing so.
But all of a sudden Jeter put a charge in a ball and doubled to right over Trot Nixon's head. Bernie Williams followed and singled Jeter home on a 2-2 pitch.
Grady Little then visited Martinez on the mound. It was apparent—and Little confirmed later—that Little had asked Martinez if he wanted to remain in the game, to which Martinez "cowboyed up" in the affirmative. Little had left-hander Alan Embree ready and Hideki Matsui was up.
Martinez seemed to regain control as he quickly got two (questionable) strikes called on Hideki Matsui. Then Matsui took the next ball down the right field line for a ground rule double as it was touched by a fan, momentarily a lucky break for the Red Sox since Williams would have scored easily.
Jorge Posada was due up next. My first thought was that Martinez would plunk Posada as he promised in game three. The beanball was delivered under similar circumstances: left-handed batter with runners at second and third. But Martinez was pitching to Posada.
This was the Martinez's undoing as Posada took a 2-2 pitch and sent a Texas Leaguer that fell between three fielders. Both baserunners scored, tying the game, and the winning run in the person of Posada ended up on second since no one covered the bag when the middle infielders chased the fly ball.
Martinez's night was over and only his exit could possibly have turned the overwhelming cheers to a smattering of boos. Embree got Giambi, who had been the Yankees only offense through eight hitting two home runs, to fly out. Little brought in Mike Timlin who promptly walked pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra intentionally. Timlin then walked Karim Garcia unintentionally on four pitches to load the bases. The next batter, Alfonso Soriano, who entered the box with four pathetic strikeouts on the night, hit a 1-1 pitch back to the pitcher that caromed off the mound but was somehow caught by second baseman Todd Walker who retired the Yanks on the force out.
The Yankees then summoned Mariano Rivera, who gave up a hit in each of his first two innings, but held firm. Meanwhile the Yankee bats fell silent as they went 1-2-3 in both the ninth and tenth innings.
Fox started concentrating on the Yankee lineup card to determine who was left in the bullpen (i.e., Gabe White, Jose Contreras, and Jeff Weaver) as Rivera mowed down the Sox in the eleventh for his first three-inning appearance in reportedly 7 years.
In the bottom of the eleventh, the leadoff hitter was Aaron Boone who had pinch-ran for Ruben Sierra after he was intentionally walked in the eighth. It was his first at-bat of the night and he was batting .161 with a .406 OPS, no home runs and one RBI in the postseason. Tim Wakefield was on the mound and he had continued to mesmerize the Yankee batters for the third time in the series with his perfect tenth. Wakefield's first offering to Boone was quickly deposited in the left field bleachers, ending the incredible game.
So maybe the Red Sox are cursed…cursed with stupidity.
The remarkable thing about the game was that it seemed a replay of the sixth game of the NLCS. Both the Cubs and the Red Sox were five outs from the World Series and had their ace on the mound. The Cubs then coughed up eight runs to lose the game and later the series. The Red Sox at least were able to send the games to extra innings.
However, in both games the manager was given ample opportunity to give the flagging starter the hook but chose not to. Prior threw 119 pitches; Martinez 123. If it were I managing, I would have pulled Martinez after the Williams hit with the left-handed Matsui at the plate. Certainly he should not have pitched to switch-hitter Jorge Posada, who has more power as a left-hander and who ended up driving in the tying runs.
The Yankees will now host the Marlins on Saturday for game one of the World Series. Both clubs enter the Series with decimated pitching staffs. The Yanks used starters Clemens (65 pitches), Mussina (33), and Wells (6) today and Pettitte threw 92 pitches yesterday. That leaves only Wells, Contreras, and Weaver (gasp!) available to pitch game one. Wells will get the call and Pettitte will probably pitch game two on three days rest (two lefties in the Yankee Stadium games). Rivera also pitched 48 pitches for the win tonight so his availability may be questionable for game one.
Florida used all five of its starters in the final two games of their series: Redman (69 pitches), Penny (9), and Beckett (45) yesterday and Pavano (86) and Willis (23) Tuesday. I guess Willis will get the call give that he will have the most rest and he is left-handed and the game is in Yankee Stadium. That leaves either Penny or Pavano for game 2.
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