That sums up the win yesterday. The first straight steal of home by a Red Sox player since Billy Hatcher did it 15 years ago. With the bases loaded. With two outs. In a 2-1 ballgame.
Would Joe Girardi ever, ever make that call? I'll leave that to Aviv to decide. But Tito, sensing an opportunity, gave the green light to Ellsbury to take the chance (see correction at bottom of page). And it ended up being the stake through the Yankees' heart.
At every opportunity in this series, when the Red Sox needed a clutch hit or catch or play, they got it. And that steal of home was the best example of their resilience and determination.
A close second was the pitching performance of Justin Masterson. Going up against Pettitte, a veteran pitcher with a record of success at Fenway, Masterson never flinched. He went 5.1 innings giving up six hits and just the one run while striking out four. He never lost control of the game and, in the end, outpitched Pettitte. As I said he was capable of doing, despite the doubts of some who also write on this site. Masterson is the real deal and seems to excel as either a starter or a reliever.
To stay focused on the pitching, I must acknowledge the good performance from Yankee callup Mark Melancon. Two innings and just one hit at Fenway is impressive. Luckily, Sox callup Michael Bowden matched him with two scoreless innings, no hits and two strikeouts. And the game was finished off in the ninth by Saito for his second save of the year. I wish it didn't take him almost 30 pitches to get there, but he made it. But once again, the Boston bullpen was solid.
There was some good and bad from the lineup. Papi looks like he may be coming into form, going 1-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Ellsbury got on base twice and scored two runs. The bad...Pedroia was 0-4 and got picked off first on another baserunning blunder. And J.D. Drew - surprise, surprise - left the game with a tight left quad. Mike Lowell plays on a practically non-existent hip but Drew goes to the bench because his quad hurts. Jesus wept. The real problem is that Rocco Baldelli is out right now as well. The next start in right is supposed to go to Jeff Bailey and then Drew is supposed to reappear on Tuesday. I'll believe it when I see it.
But why dwell on the negatives? The Red Sox swept the Yankees out of Fenway and are three games ahead of them. Boston is riding a 10-game win streak into Cleveland tonight. And Ellsbury stole home! Life is good indeed...
First Pitch Strikes
Masterson has pretty good control and the game yesterday showed that. Out of 24 batters faced, Masterson was able to get first pitch strikes or outs on 15 of them. That is a rate of 62.5%, which is right where you want to see that number. Anything at 60% or higher shows the pitcher is locating his spots and keeping in front of the batters. Another good outing from Masterson.
April 27 / Away against Cleveland / Wakefield vs. Lee / 7:05 PM
Correction: I assumed, quite logically, that Tito gave Ellsbury the green light for that steal of home. Turns out I was wrong; Ellsbury made that call himself. Wow. That takes nerves of steel and makes it even more amazing. I'm guessing Tito couldn't decide whether to hug him or slug him and chose the headlock since it kind of does both at once. Still, my point between Tito and Girardi is valid; Tito has engendered a team attitude to take those kind of calculated risks. I am guessing Girardi has done nothing of the sort in New York.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sweet, Sweet Victory
Ellsbury stole home.