The Baseball Desert

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

The Yankees were once again baffled by Tim Wakefield's knuckleball in Game 4 of the ALCS last night, but were ultimately beaten by their own sloppy fielding and some timely hitting by the Red Sox.

Boston 2B Todd Walker - who hit only 13 home runs during the course of the regular season - hit his 5th home run of the postseason, thus breaking the club record for the number of homers hit in a single postseason previously held by Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin.

The Yankees didn't help their cause much by making one or two crucial fielding / baserunning errors. With one out in the fifth, and runners on second (Jeter) and third (Soriano), third-base coach Willie Randolph elected not to send Soriano home on a flyball hit to Johnny Damon in shallow center field. In his defence, Randolph said: "If he gets thrown out there, everyone says why don't you give [the next batter] Bernie [Williams] a shot [next]. You can't second-guess yourself and I won't. We have all our good RBI guys coming up after that. You just have to react to what you see." That's fair enough, I guess, but he's got to be kicking himself this morning when he looks at the one-run margin of defeat.

Soriano was also involved in a key play in the bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch-hitter Jason Varitek hit a grounder in the hole to Jeter, who made a great play to start the potential inning-ending double-play. However, Soriano was slow in getting the throw over to first, and Varitek's mad dash to first just beat the throw to Giambi. The runner scored at the plate, and Boston had their all important (game-winning) run.

I'm not getting on Soriano's case here. He wasn't at fault on the first play, and the second play owed as much to Varitek's hustle as it did to Soriano's slow throw, but he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Add to that his wild swings at pitches way outside the strike-zone in the top of the ninth and you've got a game that Soriano probably wants to forget as soon as possible.