Monday, May 30, 2005

Red Sox Weekend In The Bronx

The Red Sox managed to take two out of three games from the Yankees in Yankee Stadium over the weekend. Things didn't get off to a good start when, on Friday night, the Sox squandered several chances to bury Yankee starter Randy Johnson.

Among those chances were two of the stupidest moves third-base coach Dale Sveum has ever committed. He sent two runners home on back-to-back plays and got them both thrown out by huge margins. The first was when Mark Bellhorn was sent from second base on a single to left field. The conventional wisdom was, "Hey, you've got a converted second baseman (Tony Womack) out there, why not test him?" Why not?
A. Because as an infielder he charges balls more aggressively than many outfielders.
B. Because when Womack picked the ball up, Bellhorn was still a full step away from third base!
Womack's throw was on the money and in plenty of time to get Bellhorn.

Sveum's second dumb-ass move was sending Johnny Damon, again from second base, on a ball that rookie second baseman Robinson Cano knocked down. Cano quickly sprang up and fired a strike to Posada to nail Damon. From there the Yankee bats wore Sox starter Tim Wakefield down, and then buried reliever Alan Embree.

Little did anyone suspect that the Sox would have an offensive breakout game Saturday afternoon. Beginning with Yankee starter Carl Pavano, the Sox pounded the Yankees for 17 runs on 27 hits as Sox starter Matt Clement gave the team yet another strong performance.

Sunday night featured a David Wells - Mike Mussina matchup, and the Sox scored first on a LONG two-run homer by David Ortiz (the first of two off Mussina) into the third deck in deep right field. Wells gave the lead back by surrendering solo homers to Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield, but after that he was nearly unhittable and left the game with one out in the ninth as closer Keith Foulke got the final outs in the 7-2 victory.

As part of my annoyance with the erratic play of the Sox, I had to endure the even more erratic work of the ESPN broadcast team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Morgan was a Hall of Fame player, but you'd never guess such a thing from the idiotic things he says during his "analysis". He tried to sell the audience on the notion that the Red Sox are not a patient team and that they don't have a high on-base percentage. In 2004, the WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Red Sox led the major leagues with a team on-base percentage of .360. There were many more such misleading statements out of Morgan's mouth, but they all blended in to background noise after a while.

The Sox begin a homestand tonight against the suddenly slumping first-place Baltimore Orioles, who, after a ghastly come-from-ahead loss yesterday saw themselves swept by the Detroit Tigers. The Sox are now in second place in the AL East.

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