Truth is, though, the Sox shouldn't have won this game. It's not that they didn't deserve to win (they did), but that for all the talent the Yankees possess, you'd think they could lock down a two-run lead with two innings to go.
You'd be wrong.
But the culprit wasn't CC Sabathia, who pitched a decent game despite getting saddled with the loss and dropping to 2-5 lifetime against the Sox. Nor was it A-Rod, who actually had a clutch hit and put the Yankees ahead 3-1. You could blame Judas Damon for temporarily lowering morale by muffing a fly ball my four-year daughter could have caught, and then throwing the ball just like my four-year old daughter*.
But really, shouldn't Joe Girardi be on the hot-seat here? He leaves in Sabathia one inning too long, then brings in the same two guys (Aceves and Coke) he used the night before. Granted, the bullpen is shot at this point thanks to the two previous games. But couldn't Robertson or Tomko go here? Isn't it insane that the Yankees played three with the Sox and we never saw Mo Rivera once? Not that it would have mattered since Boston owns him these days, but still...that's bad bullpen management. In fact, considering the situation the Yanks were in and their desperate need for a win, the right play was to violate my cardinal rules of closers (i.e. - never use your closer in the eighth) and bring in Mo to relieve C.C. and pitch the ninth.
Girardi is the biggest gift New York ever gave the Red Sox.
As for the Sox...Brad Penny upped his value big-time. Six innings of six-hit, shutout ball. If it wasn't for Delcarmen's implosion, Penny would have had his sixth win of the year. But luckily the Sox had Saito for the eighth and then Paps shut the Yanks down in the ninth for his AL-leading 16th save of the season.
If there was a problem last night, it's that Penny may have made himself too valuable. Right now, who would make more sense to move off the roster for Smoltz: Penny or Daisuke? That's not even a close call; you'd DL Daisuke for 30 days and see how Penny and Smoltz work together in the rotation. Or you go to the six-man rotation, although I think that creates too much time between outings for your starters.
On the other hand, Penny's value will never be higher than it is right now. And keep in mind he needed 117 pitches over those six innings. Granted, he's a horse and was chucking the pill in the high-90s in the sixth inning. But that is a lot of work in only six innings.Can the Sox take the risk of keeping Penny and seeing him get injured, thereby losing all trade value, when he could bring some high return in a trade? That's a hell of a question for Theo to face. Personally, I think they can. They have enough talent in the farm to cover the gap. And it's not like Smoltz is chopped liver.
Another highlight was watching the "DONE" (in Aviv's words) David Ortiz belt a homer in the second inning to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. 2-3 with a homer, RBI and run scored. Papi's OPS for June is now 1.049 with a .310 batting average. I don't know where he got those eye drops from, but they must be made of bald eagle tears because Papi's vision is fantastic.
And how about that Nick Green? 1-3 with a run scored and some nice work on that double play to end the second. By the way...what the hell was Swisher doing? Seriously Aviv, what is Girardi teaching these guys about base-running? Every game someone on your team is getting picked off or thrown out or missing a sign.
So now the Sox head off to Philly for some inter-league action. The Sox usually do well against the NL, but they have been less than stellar on the road. Boston needs to carry over the good karma from this series and keep on winning game any way they can. They are two up on the Yanks now and this is no time to take the foot off of their choke-tastic throats. Lester goes up against Joe Blanton, the one-time Athletic who has seen Boston before. Over the past three years he is 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA against the Sox. Both guys are throwing well right now but Lester is in a whole different realm with 23 strikeouts in his last two games.
Oh, and one more thing....
Ballgame over! Sox win! Theeeeeee Sox win!
* This was irrelevant to how the game ended. I just wanted to point out that Damon has the arm of a child and the mental capacity to match. Traitorous jerk that he is...