Saturday, April 25, 2009

How Sweet It Is

I spent the night trying to decide what was better; Bay's homer off Rivera to tie it in the ninth, Youk's game-winning blast or being right about Joba's future as a starter. I came to the decision they were all pretty great. Watching Boston beat the Yankees is often like matter how bad some things were, all you remember are the sweet, sweet highlights.

But not all was perfect in Boston's 5-4, 11-inning comeback over New York last night. For one thing, it never should have gotten that far. The Sox teed off on Joba all night but hit into double-play after double-play, four of them to be exact. The Sox let Joba off the hook when they should have buried him. It was ridiculous that he entered the sixth inning with a chance to win before surrendering the tying run (at that point).

And the performance of Hideki Okajima was not one for the ages, the year or the week. Four batters, four hits, two earned runs and no outs. If this kind of outing is a sign of things to come rather than an aberration, the Sox will lack a reliable lefty for the pressure situations. I like Javier Lopez and he did okay last night, but that isn't his kind of role.

And Papi struck out four times. I really don't know if he is starting slow or still having wrist problems. But he needs to figure out what is going on and soon.

All of that said, there was a lot to like last night. Overall, Boston's bullpen outperformed New York's. And that is going to be the key to who wins this series because the teams are so closely matched across the board. The Sox have bedeviled Rivera over the past few years, making last night's ninth-inning comeback not that surprising. And when Marte came out for the 11th inning, I think a lot of Sox fans felt confident about pushing the winning run across. From the Boston side, Saito continues to look healthy and solid. And the trade for Ramon Ramirez gets better and better for Boston. He came on in a huge pressure situation and, with two runners on, got a huge double play. This was his first taste of big-time baseball and he came through. Is it worth noting he used to be a Yankee?

Lester had a decent outing, going six innings with seven hits and two runs. I was hoping for a little more dominance but he kept Boston in the game. It's Lester's first no-decision of the year. Still, he was better than Joba.

Super-sub Nick Green continues to come through for Boston. 2-4 last night with an RBI single in the sixth. He has been very important to Boston's recent run of success. And Kevin Youkilis continues to build off of last year's stellar season. He went 2-4 last night with two RBI, including the game-winning home run in the 11th. He is currently batting .433 and just hammering the ball.

But how about Jason Bay? 3-5 with a game-tying two-run shot in the ninth! He has thrived since coming to Boston last year in the trade with Pittsburgh. His defense in the field has been stellar (so far he has been perfect in 2009). And his bat is as reliable as an atomic clock. You just know that come season's end, Bay will have around 30 homers and 100 RBI. That's great production from your sixth batter. Which is a topic for another the hell is he batting sixth?

And so we see the sun rise today with the Sox a game ahead of New York for second place in the AL East. Game Two is at 4:10 this afternoon, which is an odd time for a Fenway game and likely the work of our fine friends at FOX. It's the matchup of injury-prone aces as Beckett faces off against Burnett. If there is one game that New York is likely to take in this series, it's this one. Burnett has owned the Sox in recent years.

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