Obviously, it’s hard to be completely happy about being swept by the Red Sox. The goal is always to win, and going 0/3 is clearly not good. So yes, I am unhappy.
I can’t be completely unhappy. I’ll go game-by-game here. The first game was obviously pretty devastating. The Yankees were cruising until a deadly combination of epic Joe Torre mismanaging and Bad Mariano showed up. That was a rough loss. The second game was also close, despite Jeff Karstens’ best efforts to give the game to the Red Sox. Tonight was competitive as well, with the bulk of the Red Sox’ scoring coming on ridiculous back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs against Chase Wright. Altogether, the games were pretty close and competitive.
I take heart for several reasons. First, the Yankees are a wreck right now. An absolute wreck. They have quite possibly the worst in-game manager in baseball today, a pitching staff in shambles, an overworked bullpen, and a lineup missing (for this series, at various times) Matsui, Damon, and Posada. Considering all that, the Yankees being outscored 21-17 in three games is vastly more acceptable.
The primary reason that I’m not all that upset concerns Boston’s pitching. All I heard this past winter – particularly after the Matsuzaka signing – was how amazing Boston’s starting pitching would be this year. There are several links to articles and columns on ESPN.com about the forthcoming dominance of Schilling, Beckett, and Matsuzaka. And you know what – small sample size and all – the Yankees handled them very well:
- Game 1 (Schilling): 7 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR
- Game 2 (Beckett): 6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 0 HR
- Game 3 (Matsuzaka): 7 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
This makes me very happy. Again, to be fair and consistent in my analysis, this was a small sample size. Three games do not a season make, with respect to the quality of the Red Sox’ starters. But it certainly was nice to get 15 runs in 20 innings against the best of their (unreasonably) acclaimed rotation. This was also without various combinations of Posada, Damon and Matsui.
A few notes before my final thoughts:
- Note to Red Sox fans: please stop giving standing ovations for mediocre pitching performances. This occurred both with Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Beckett, well, maybe. Maybe, but probably not. Matsuzaka? No way.
- Those four straight home runs were sick. I chuckled after the fourth. To quote Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, “I’m not even mad; that’s amazing”.
- Note to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan: the last time a team hit four straight homers was last year. I say this because right after the fourth, Morgan said “I can’t remember ever seeing that before”. Jon Miller said something to the same effect (see previous post). Of course, it’s their job to know the last time something this rare and amazing happened.
- Jon Miller, Josh Phelps is not a rookie. He is 30 years old and has played for multiple major-league teams. Look at the sheets of paper in front of you (if, in fact, you managed to bring some).
- I cannot stress enough how irritated I was at Miller and Morgan all night, particularly about their alarming lack of criticism regarding Matsuzaka. He did not pitch well. Morgan very quietly attributed this to him choosing not to use all 8 of his pitches, preferring rather to limit his arsenal and not expose his entire repetoire. That crafty Asian. Miller also quietly attributed Matsuzaka’s ineffectiveness to the pressure of the rivalry, especially playing at home. That’s funny, because analysts and writers crucified A-Rod for succumbing to this same pressure last year, yet it’s a viable excuse for Matsuzaka.
- Matsuzaka did not pitch well. He had iffy control of his slider, little movement on his fastball, and was particularly vulnerable pitching out of the stretch. Again, little-to-no criticism from our dear broadcasters about this performance. As irritated as I am about the ESPN hype machine (so far) not acknowledging its potential exaggerations, I am heartened that the Yankees will get to face Matsuzaka again.
- Lastly, I thought it was very appropriate that the Red Sox honored Jackie Robinson today, a few days after every other team did (because of weather-related scheduling problems so far). As you may or may not know, the Red Sox were the last MLB team to integrate because of resistance from their owner and manager. The Red Sox (and Boston as a whole) are also somewhat notorious for racism occasional intolerance and homogeneity. Anyway, I thought it was funny.
That’s about it. I think I am being honest with myself when I say that this is not merely me rationalizing a rough weekend of baseball, or being overcome with denial. Sure, 0/3 is not good. It is bad. But all things considered (it’s also only April), this was not an awful weekend. Indeed, I am heartened. Until next weekend, go Yankees.