What an evening. In the bottom of the 8th, after we failed to score against flamethrowing Daniel Bard, I put the game on the radio and went to bed a little miffed. We'd scored 5 runs off Dice-K in the first inning, and Hughes cruised through 4 innings. It shaped up like an easy win to start the series, but that changed in the 5th, when JD Drew's bomb brought Boston to within 1. The Yanks added an insurance run, but our long relief stinks, so Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park gave up home runs to Youkilis and V-Mart. An easy win turned into a 9-7 deficit.
The only thing that kept me from cutting myself off completely was the possibility of another Papelbon meltdown. The borderline-mongoloid Sox closer is one of my least favorite professional athletes of all time, and ever since the All-Star game in Yankee Stadium, he's had a mental block against the Bombers. With Jonny P on the mound, the dramatic comeback is always a possibility. And sure enough, A-Rod and Thames ensured that he ended the night by pursing his lips, frowning, and marching into the visitor's dugout with another blown save.
How about A-Rod? Has there ever been a guy whose clutch reputation did such a complete 180? A few years ago, you never wanted to see him up with the chips on the line. Now, he's top choice in the Yankee lineup and maybe top choice in all of baseball. Part of me actually expected him to hit the game-tying home run last night, and even if he hadn't, I was glad he was the man at the plate.
Also, watch the way he reacts to Thames' bomb. Hilarious.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. This was the first pie of the year, and a classic Yanks-Sox game. Four hours, lots of lead changes, lots of pitchers, lots of runs, and a dramatic ending. Also, I'm ready to make a declaration:
The Red Sox era is over.
I'm going to define the Red Sox era, as it applies to the Yanks-Sox rivalry, as beginning with game 4 of the ALCS in 2004, and ending with their 8th straight regular season win in 2009. It takes the hindsight of history to truly define an era, and at this point I believe the evidence is fully compiled.
Before game 4, 2004:
This scarcely needs repeating. No World Series wins since 1918, while the Yanks reeled off 26. Every time they played a big game against the Yanks, they lost. In 2003, they lost the ALCS in heartbreaking fashion on Aaron Boone's extra innings home run in game 7. And in '04, they lost the first 3 games of the ALCS. No professional baseball team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, and the defeatist bearing of Red Sox nation reached its pessimistic apex.
Between game 4, 2004, and the 8th meeting of the regular season, 2009:
An unbelievable comeback in the ALCS, including two late inning triumphs over Mariano, and capped by a dominant win in game 7 at Yankee Stadium. Over the next three and a half years, they won another World Series (2007), owned a narrow 42-40 edge in regular season games, and won 8 straight to begin 2009. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs in '05, '06, and '07, and didn't even make the postseason in '08.
After the 8th meeting of the regular season, 2009:
The Yanks went on an unbelievable tear, winning 9 of the final 10 games against the Sox to even the season series at 9-9. The Sox went down in the first round of the playoffs to the Angels, and the Yankees took their momentum all the way to a World Series win, their first since 2000. To start 2010, they're 5-2 against the Sox (15-3 since August '09), and already 6.5 games ahead in the AL East.
The Sox enjoyed a nice mid-decade stretch where they rose in prominence above the Yanks, but those days are over. And let me be the latest to join the doomsaying chorus: Boston is in real trouble. Their starting pitching is far less spectacular than advertised, their long relief is shaky at best, and the lineup is not up to par with Tampa or New York. We're only in mid-May, but their season is already close to lost. They don't have the personnel to catch both the Yanks and Rays, and the odds of them catching one and sneaking into a wild card berth seem pretty slim.
By the way, it just so happens that I attended the game marking the latest Yankee ascension. It was August 6th, last year, and the truth about Ortiz's PED use had just come to light. Mocking signs and giant novelty needles dotted the stadium, and the yanks jumped all over John Smoltz, scoring 8 in the 4th inning and effectively ending his Red Sox career. You can read my jubilation here, complete with ghost-townish Red-X former pictures.
Tonight, the smirking piece of shit known as Josh Beckett goes against Sabathia to close the 2-game set. CC struggled against Detroit, which is usually a good sign that he'll be lights out in his next start. The odds that Beckett will injure one of our players with a beanball are better than the odds that he'll come away with a win.
World Cup chatter later on. Go Yanks.