Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Ugly, But It's A Win

I'd hate to be a Red Sox fan this morning.

The only thing worse that watching and suffering through a game such as Friday's is losing. Man, was that ugh-lee!

Yes, the Yankees' offense put on a hitting clinic, pounding out 23 hits, but the reality is that the Yankees' pitching was less awful than the Red Sox's in the 20-11 victory at Fenway. The 31 runs are the most ever scored in a game between these two teams.

The victory snapped the Yankees' seven-losing streak at Fenway, moved the Yanks 7-1/2 games ahead of the Sox in the AL East and guaranteed they'll leave Boston with no worse than a 5-1/2 game lead. New York has also won five straight overall against Boston, outscoring the Sox, 45-19.

The Yankees have gone 26-8 since the All-Star break, including winning eight of their last 10 and 15 of 18. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have gone only 15-18 since the break.

How bad was the Yankees' pitching? Well, if I was told that Damaso Marte would have been their best pitcher last night, I'd have sworn the Yankees would have lost.

Andy Pettitte (10-6, 4.25 ERA) labored but kept the Sox off the board through four innings before coming apart after the Yankees' six-run, 29-minute fifth inning. He ended up allowing seven runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and two walks in 5+ innings, He struck out four and threw 64 of 105 pitches for strikes.

Let's consider this victory a makup for all the no-decisions he had since the break in which he's pitched brilliantly.

After four straight sharp outings, Brian Bruney was awful, allowing a hit, three walks and two inherited runners to score in an inning of work. He threw just 14 of 37 pitches for strikes before Marte, who activated from the DL earlier in the day, retired his only two batters.

Sergio Mitre finished it off, pitching a flawless eighth before allowing four in the ninth.

But the Red Sox pitchers were much, much, much worse. In fact they were beyond terrible.

Starter Brad Penny (7-8, 5.61) was pounded from the beginning, allowing eight runs on 10 his and a walk in 4+ innings.

I thought he couldn't have been much worse until Michael Bowden came on a was absolutely mauled, allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks in two innings. Manny Delcarmen allowed a run in the seventh, Takashi Saito was flawless in the eighth and Ramon Ramirez gave up four more -- three earned -- in the ninth.

It all added up for a huge day for the Yankees' offense -- so huge that it's just not practical to even attempt to cap a run-by-run recap.

The hitting star was Hideki Matsui, who went 2-for-6 with two homers in a seven RBI. His three-run homer in the six-run fifth off Bowden broke open the game and his three-run home in the ninth put the cherry on top.

His seven RBI were the most by a Yankee against the Red Sox since Joe Pepiton in 1964 and the most by a Yankee at Fenway since Lou Gehrig.

It turned into a night for everyone to pad his states. Everyone except Johnny Damon and Jerry Hairston Jr. collected a hit and drove in a run, and everyone but Damon scored a run. (More on Damon in a bit).

Alex Rodriguez snapped out his recent doldrums, going 4-for-4 with his first triple since 2006. His RBI single in the second made it 6-0.

Derek Jeter went 3-for-6 with two RBI to raise his batting average to .333, Mark Teixeira went 3-for-5 with three RBI, including a two-run double in the second that make it 5-0, and Jorge Posada went 2-for-5 with a big, two-out, two-run double in the first to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Melky Cabrera went 4-for-6.

Everyone did something, so best to take a look at the box score. The offense was so ridiculous that it went 15-for-25 with runners in scoring position. Yikes!

In fact the only down note offensively on the night was that Damon was forced to leave the game in the first after getting hit on the side of the knee by a foul ball. Take a sigh of relief Yankee fans, X-rays came back negative and he's day-to-day, though not expected to play today. It could have been much, much worse. Fortunately it wasn't.

It was ugly, but it was a win -- and putting a hurting the Sox does feel good. But now it's time for the Yankees to turn the page and hopefully get a much crisper win today.

Runners In Scoring Position
15-for-25 (.600)
303-for-1,139 (.266)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
87-for-320 (.272)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
238-for-867 (.275)
Vs. Red Sox
35-for-151 (.232)

Up Next
Saturday at Red Sox, 4:10 p.m., Fox
A.J. Burnett (10-6, 3.69) vs. Junichi Tazawa (1-2, 5.40)

Burnett has to pitch better than anyone did yesterday, right? The good news for the Yankees is that they didn't have to touch Phil Coke, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves or Mariano Rivera Friday, so if Burnett can't get into the seventh with a lead, the Yankees will be in good shape. I just hope the offense still has something left in the tank against the rookie, Tazawa.

You could cash in on the Yankees and Sox by betting online. Who would win the head to head though?

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