Thursday, October 14, 2004

Game 2: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

By the way, I like the Cardinals in 7 games over the Houston Astros.

I paid $200 for two upper deck seats to Game 2 of the Yankees-Twins series. They were asking $500 for a pair of Game 2 ALCS tickets. I thought about it... I could've cashed out a chunk of my Party Poker account to cover the buy. At the last minute I decided against it. Bobby Murcer, former player and current NY Yankees announcer, threw out the first pitch. Before the game everyone got wind of the Curt Shilling Ankle Update. Honestly, I think it's just a distraction. Going into the game, the Yankees need to focus on one thing... getting to Pedro Martinez early.

John Leiber loves pitching at home compiling an 11-3 record this season. He worked an efficient first inning. Pedro walked Jeter on four pitches. He stole second on the first pitch to A Rod, who reached first base when Pedro hit him on a pitch up and in. He was throwing hard but missing the strike zone. The rowdy Bronx fans started in with the now infamous "Who's your Daddy?" chant. Gary Sheffield singled to score Jeter. Pedro was too jacked up. Varitek took several trips to the mound to calm him down. At one point it looked like he stopped giving signs and let Pedro throw what he wanted. That seemed to work. Pedro worked out of a tough jam in an already hostile environment. I called my mother to remind her that the game was on channel 5. "I fuckin' hate that Pedro Martinez!" she said.

John Leiber worked an efficient second inning. Pedro issued a one out walk to Miguel Cairo and I wondered why Torre didn't play Enrique Wilson who has insane career numbers against his friend. Pedro gave up a single to Kenny Lofton which got the crowd chanting "Who's your Daddy?" once again. With two outs Pedro seemed too concerned with Kenny Lofton on first base than worrying about pitching to A Rod. He did that cheesy fake to third-fake to first move than never works. It just draws more ire from the crowd. It didn't matter, Pedro mowed down A Rod for his third strikeout, stranding another runner in scoring position.

I sported the Johnny Damon Look back in 1998. My hair was actually longer too. He's far behind the times. Lieber gave up a leadoff hit to Nomar's replacement, that Cabrera guy and retired the next three Sox. Pedro settled down and came back with an efficient third. Lieber matched him with three up and three down and the game time picked up some speed. All I could think about was how much I miss Summer from The OC.

Pedro relinquished a lead off walk to Posada and the chants of "Who's your Daddy?" stirred around the crowd once again. Pedro hung tough and quieted the crowd. He closed out the fourth with his fourth strikeout of the night. I almost forgot the debate was on and flipped to one of the alphabet news channels. Bush was muttering and stuttering around health care. And Kerry bullshitted for his three minutes. Bored, I switched to a Spanish soap opera instead, where some scantly clad, big chested, dyed blonde was trying to seduce the cable guy.

John Leiber was pitching well with a skecthy offensive output from his team. Was I worried? Yeah. He picked up another one-two-three inning and retired his ninth consecutive Red Sox hitter. By the time the fifth inning came around, FOX showed some of the celebrities. Ben Affleck couldn't make the game and his brother Casey acted as Matt Damon's sidekick for the night. Pedro was facing the top of the order looking the strongest he's pitched all night. He solved whatever control problems he had in the first inning. The Yanks needed to tag on a run or two. A Rod picked up an infield hit... and the "Who's your Daddy?" chants woke up the crowd. Sheffield was already 1 for 2 against Pedro. Who gives a shit about John Kerry and health care? Those idiots watching the debate in the rest of America was missing out on the greatest and most historic rivalry in all of professional sports. Sheffield battled in a lengthy at bat only to get struck out by Pedro. He got out of the inning and through the first five, it was apparent that we were witnessing old fashioned October pitching duel in the Bronx. Pedro struck out six Yankees and Leiber was throwing a one hitter in another classic game.

Johnny Damon is a weird guy. Senor's a huge Red Sox fan and told me about a story in the Boston papers about Damon's off season work out. He supposedly sat on his front porch and every time a car passed by... he'd run after it. Go get 'em Jawwwwnie Dayyy-min! Anyway, he battled Leiber in a sixteen pitch at bat in the toughest match up for Leiber all night long. He eventually got Damon to hit a weak fly ball to shallow centerfield. He retired the side, twelve consecutive batters overall, and on cruising in one of his strongest performances of the season.

Cut to: Pitching coach picking up the phone in the Boston dugout.

Cut to: Chef Timlin warming up the BBQ in the Boston bullpen.

Sharks smell blood miles away. With one out, Pedro walked Posada for a second time. Then on a 1-2 pitch, his 106th of the game, Pedro Mahhhhh-teen-essss hung a fastball inside to John Olerud. The Yankees first baseman crushed a home run to the short right field porch. Before the ball landed, the crowd started chanting the loudest version of "Who's your Daddy?" of the night. Pedro should've kept his mouth shut. Giving the NY fans fodder to feed on is like tossing a bag full of crack to a bunch of jonesin' pipeheads. Last time Pedro faced the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, he served up two chili dogs to Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. Yankees 3, Red Sox 0.

Leiber shut down the Sox for the first six innings in a performance almost matching Mussina's perfect 6 1/3 innings. After giving up only the second hit of the night, he induced Cowboy Up to hit into a double play. Smooth. He looked smooth all night. Pedro was pulled after six innings. He scattered four hits and struck out seven.

The Yankees put two runners on after hits from Sheffield and Matsui but Bernie stranded both to end the inning. After a lead off single in the top of the eighth, Torre lifted Leiber and the fans greeted the game two starter with a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout. He out pitched Pedro Martinez. Flash Gordon took to the mound and ran Varitek to a full count before he doubled to right field. The Sox were threating the Yankees for the first time all night with runners on second and third with no outs. Yanks sacrificed a run for an out with a ground ball to Jeter. One out, runner on second, Flash faced Bill Meuller who's never gotten a hit off of him in three career at bats. Luckily Meuller hit a weak grounder to second base. Two outs, runner on third. Torre made the move. He took Gordon out and gave the ball to Mo Rivera for the final four outs.

The Hammer of God

Enter Sandman began playing and a thunderous applause greeted Rivera as he jogged out of the bullpen. Johnny Damon is a career .200 hitter against Mo and was way out in front of his first few pitches. He struck him out to end the inning. Three more outs to go for Mo. Yankees 3, Red Sox 1.

Yanks loaded the bases against Sox closer Keith Foulke. Two outs and the bases were juiced for A Rod, looking for his fourth hit of the series. With a full count, A Rod flied out, failing to bust the game wide open. It was all up to Mo.

Bellhorn squibbed a weak ground out to first base. One down, two to go. Mo got Manny behind 0-2 in the count before he laced a shot to Death Valley. The Sox were looking strong. Runner on second with one of the best players in the league at bat looking to take Mo deep to tie the game. Quickly, Mo was ahead 0-2. And then blew a cutter by Oritz. Two outs, one to go.

Cowboy Up vs. The Hammer of God. First pitch... strike one. Second pitch... check swing. Ball one. Third pitch... bad swing. Strike two. Fourth pitch... broken bat, foul ball. Down one game with their best pitchers beaten, with two outs in the top of the ninth, the last chance for Boston to leave New York with any sort of dignity came to front. Mo brought the heater and sealed his 32nd career postseason save with a strikeout. Have a seat, Cowboy Down! It was a final. Yankees 3, Red Sox 1. Yanks lead the series 2-0.

John Leiber was the X factor in game 2. He's been hot. He was 5-0 in September and picthed two solid post season starts. Wish I could write more, but I'm pressed for time.

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