The Baseball Desert

Saturday, September 18, 2004

On the comeback trail

The Red Sox and the Yankees played a rain-interrupted game at Yankee Stadium tonight which at one point looked like it might never get finished. El Duque started for the Yankees and threw 68 pitches over three innings before being forced out of the game by an extended rain delay. Bronson Arroyo managed to stay in the game for the Red Sox and pitched valiantly, giving up just 2 runs on 4 hits over six innings, but it looked like his efforts would be in vain - the Red Sox failed to muster any kind of run support and in the process made Yankee reliever Tanyon Sturtze look like Sandy Koufax.

The Yankees took the lead in the fifth inning on a home run by John Olerud, but the key play of the game came on the next at-bat, when Manny Ramirez made a great leaping catch at the left-field wall to rob Miguel Cairo of a home run and keep the Yankees' lead to one run. I don't think anyone thought Manny would actually get to the ball (in fact Cairo actually completed his home run trot, so sure was he that the ball had left the ballpark), but he did his best Torii Hunter impression and hauled it in.

That one run saved proved to be the difference in the ballgame. In true Red Sox fashion, having failed to score a single run off Sturtze in 3 2/3 innings they then proceeded to put together a walk, a stolen base, a single and a bloop hit against the normally infallible Mariano Rivera - who looked anything but infallible out there tonight - and won the game 3-2.

Going into this game, the Yankees were 79-1 when leading after eight innings - that figure is now 79-2, and both of those losses have come against the Red Sox. Tonight's win was crucial for Boston - not only does it put them just 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the division, it also sends a timely reminder to the arch-enemy that the Red Sox can and will hang in there, even against the mighty Rivera.

I took a nap earlier in the evening so as to be able to watch the game, which was a 1am start over here. I figured it would be over by 4am, but the rain delays extended that to 6am, and it's really not worth my while going to bed now. It's going to be a tough day, and I'll be running on fumes for most of it, but I'll trade a little sluggishness on the basepaths this afternoon against a game like that any day of the week.