As you can tell from the picture above, the tenth game of the Yankees/Sox series featured a little bit of tension. The Yankees continued their domination of Tim Wakefield, sending the knuckleballer to the showers after giving up 8 earned on 5 hits and 6 walks in only 3.2 innings of work.
The game was decided after the bottom of the fourth, but the excitement was just beginning. Joe Torre was ejected after a blown call at third, Scott Proctor was ejected after buzzing Kevin Youkilis with a goatee-high fastball. Donnie brought in Mo before things got out of hand in the ninth, a couple of batters before it became a save situation. The right move, but probably not one Torre would’ve made. All told, it was another exciting game between these teams, and it even featured a “Yankees Suck!” chant from the hundreds of fans who didn’t flood the streets of Boston before the eventful bottom of the ninth.
Let’s take a step back here and talk about the Youkilis play, what led up to it, and what it’s going to mean for the rest of this series.
Three Yankee batters were hit by pitches tonight. Phelps was hit by a knuckleball, so that one doesn’t really count, but A-Rod was hit (possibly intentional) and Cano was also hit (probably intentional). It’s nothing new for Yankee batters to be hit by Red Sox pitching. It happens every time these teams meet. The only difference tonight, was the Yankee pitchers didn’t take it lying down.
In the bottom of the third, Mike Lowell was hit by Wang to lead off the inning. Obviously not intentional. In the top of the fourth, A-Rod got hit. Like I said, possibly this was payback for Lowell getting hit. Either way, the teams were “even” in the hit-batsmen category. Then in the top of the ninth Javier Lopez hit Robinson Cano to lead the inning off. This one sure looked intentional. So, now the Red Sox had paid back Lowell being hit twice. Scott Proctor noticed.
He took the hill, struck out Lugo, then threw a pitch basically right at Youkilis’s face. It grazed his shoulder, but no serious damage was done. Proctor was immediately tossed and Youkilis pulled what I consider the biggest pussy move in sports. He slowly walked toward the mound yelling and pointing. This move has only one purpose, to make it look like you’re tough, and you really want to fight with the safety of knowing you won’t actually have to fight. You’re letting the catcher stop you before you can fight, saying “Hold me back, I’m really mad, I’ll do it, I’ll fight him.” When you have no intention of fighting anyone. Either go out to the mound like you mean it, or go to first base. You aren’t scaring anyone.
The fact of the matter is, if Youkilis is going to be mad at anyone, he should be mad at his own pitchers. They’ve made a habit out of hitting Yankees, and you know what they say about payback. For the record, Proctor should not have thrown at Youkilis’s head. I doubt that was his intention, if he was throwing at him (which I’d say is pretty much a certainty) the pitch probably got away from him. Again, if the Sox pitchers didn’t love to hit A-Rod, it wouldn’t even be an issue. Proctor is probably going to earn at least another 4–game suspension for tonight’s actions. (He was suspended 4 games earlier this season when he didn’t even hit the guy he was throwing at).
Tomorrow’s game features Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. Schilling may hit someone, but he won’t be blatant about it. Mussina will not, emphatically. Even if Schilling beans the first five guys he faces, Mussina will not retaliate. I expect the fireworks to come on Sunday, with Josh Beckett on the hill. He’s going to bean someone, and Pettitte just might respond. I know a lot of people don’t want to see guys getting hit left and right, but it’s a lot less fun to watch guys on your team constantly getting beaned with no retribution whatsoever. The only difference between tonight’s game and about 10 other Yanks/Sox games that come to mind is that tonight the Yanks responded.
Things like this end one of two ways: Either cooler heads prevail, you have a few anxious moments for a game or two and nothing really happens; or you have a real, honest to God brawl. These teams have a lot on the line, probably too much to get a bunch of guys suspended or hurt, so I’m leaning toward the former.
Tune in to Fox tomorrow for game two, I’m sure McCarver and Buck will vilify Proctor and fail to mention the fact that at the end of the game, the Sox had two guys hit, and the Yanks had two guys hit by non-knuckle balls.
Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu and Melky Cabrera each had two hits tonight. If those three get hot, this offense will be scoring like they did tonight on a regular basis. 12.5 games back and gaining!
Player of the Game: Jorge Posada, 2 for 5, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs.