Tonight's 9-5 win
over the ChiSox was highlighted by three performances. First, Chien-Ming Wang. The Yankee ace really pitched horribly with the exception of a couple of key situations. He gave up 10 hits and 2 walks in his six innings of work, and I don't remember any of the hits really being cheap. The Sox were bashing his brains in. The key to Wang's game was that he was able to wiggle out of jams on several occasions. It was a miracle that he got through his 6 with only 3 runs allowed, but he did.
This is where I would usually talk about how gritty Wang was. About how he really bared down and got those tough outs. About how this is what aces do. I may even talk about how Wang and Pettitte have the uncanny ability to escape these situations, and as soon as Hughes and/or Kennedy figure it out, they'll be just fine (if they figure it out). All of that is true, to an extent, but tonight's game got me wondering. When the Yankees aren't getting hits in the clutch all we talk about is their lack of timely hitting. When the other team isn't getting hits in the clutch all we talk about is clutch pitching. I wonder if there are Royals bloggers out there who spilled a ton of ink talking about Brian Bannister's clutch gene when he faced the Yanks. Or maybe it was Roy Halladay when we faced the Jays, or even Daniel Cabrera in Baltimore. It's funny how slanted we look at things. Was Wang that much better tonight with two outs, when everything was on the line, or were the ChiSox a bunch of stiffs when it mattered most? It's semantics, but I'm in a philosophical mood, so there you have it.
Anyway, the other two stars of the game were Bobby Abreu, obviously. His salami flipped this game on its head and it couldn't have come at a better time. You have to wonder why Ozzie Guillen would leave Dotel in to face him (especially since Dotel threw nothing but 88MPH fastballs). Nevertheless, it was a clutch hit, and an opposite-field salami is nothing to sneeze at.
Johnny Damon is the final star. For the second game in a row Damon went deep late in the ball game to give the Yanks much-needed padding. Tonight, Damon's blast meant Joba had a stress-free eighth inning and Rivera wasn't needed at all. Late runs like that to put teams away can really cut down on the wear and tear your pen has to endure. Damon's average is all the way up to .243 (he was 3/5 tonight, with 3 runs and 3 RBI). If he stays out of his funk this offense is going to look a lot healthier, mark my words.
I need to bring up a couple of things. Michael Kay spouting a couple of appalling facts during the game tonight that I've been meaning to look up, and David Cone and Paul O'Neill chimed in with a great observation. According to Kay, since A-Rod has come to the Yankees he's been hit by Boston pitchers 12 times and Derek Jeter has been hit 10 times. That's 22, total. In the same period of time, Manny Ramirez has been hit 3 times by Yankee pitchers and David Ortiz hasn't been hit once. Not one time. The tally is 22 for Boston, 3 for the Yankees. That's insane.
Cone and O'Neill went on to say that a disparity like that can really tear a clubhouse apart, and I buy it. The fact that Yankee pitchers have been unwilling to, or maybe directly ordered not to retaliate when they're hit, they have a legitimate beef. The fact that these numbers are so lopsided makes Bob Watson's decision to suspend Kyle Farnsworth for 3 games look even more arbitrary, and quite unfair. The league obviously isn't doing anything to police the Red Sox pitchers, in fact not a single pitcher from the Sox has been suspended for throwing at a Yankee. Why did Farnsworth get suspended when he didn't even hit anyone? What message is that sending? Is the league saying the Yanks should start beaning Ortiz and Manny preemptively? That's what it looks like to me.Player of The Game:
11-10Damon's Broken Bats:
0, he's got another one of those indestructible black bats. Disappointing.
Finally, I'll just say this directly to Kyle Farnsworth...
The solo home run you gave up to A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the
ninth tonight didn't bother me at all. Every time you come in with a
five-run lead, I think you should be happy to give up a solo home run.
The thing that bothers me is the walk that followed it. There's no
shame in grooving a fastball when you have that big of a lead. A solo
bomb doesn't mean anything in that situation. Trust your stuff and no
matter what you do, don't give the other team free bases.