Last night's do or die ALCS matchup essentially had all the trappings of a typical Yankees game. In particular, the top of the 6th inning. The Yankees scored two runs to go ahead 4-3; all on seeing eye hits which barely left the infield. All this after Terry Francona makes the dubious and wholly unnecessary decision to pull a surprisingly effective Derek Lowe for what turned out to be a woefully ineffective Mike Timlin. And the catalyst behind the go-ahead run? Six foot eight utility man Tony Clark, a crappy Met in 2003 and even crappier (.207 BA) Red Sock in 2002. Oh sweet Yankee irony! My roommate says that the Yankees waste no time in making opposing teams pay dearly for questionable managerial decisions. He's right.
So the Yanks bring in Mariano "Mr. Automatic" Rivera to pitch the 8th and 9th innings, and I can't blame any Sox fans for turning off the television (although I'm assuming most did not in light of Boston's surprising effectiveness in staving off elimination). Ninth inning. Lead-off walk to Kevin Millar. Never a good idea. This is when I scream, "use Dave Roberts as a pinch runner!" Done. He steals second. Rivera killer Bill Mueller singles him home. Tie game. Rivera's first ever blown postseason save against the Red Sox. There were enough men on base and few enough outs that it should have ended right there, but that would've been too easy.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 12th inning. Paul Quantrill in for the Yanks. Gives up a single to Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz takes him yard. Game.
In a prior post, I called Sox middle reliever Curtis Leskanic a dirty Derek Lowe look alike with one pitch. Well, apparently he read this blog in between games as he managed to pitch 1 and 2/3rds of scoreless relief with a nasty slider and change-up that he seemingly acquired overnight! Say nothing of Sox closer Keith Foulke; doing his job with 2 and 2/3rds scoreless innings to get the Sox to the ninth inning only down one.
Now they once again send out Pedro Martinez against Mike Mussina at the random time of 5 pm. If the Sox lose, they're eliminated. But we want them to win dearly, not only because the Yankees are scum, but because the Game 6 starter has been confirmed as Curt Schilling, who may or may not be pitching from a wheelchair. Pedro at Fenway is a hundred times more effective than Pedro in the Bronx. Cross your fingers.
Here's a random thought: Is there any pitcher in the American League who looks less like a pitcher than Paul Quantrill does? I see the guy and immediately think postal worker, high school history teacher, or 50's sitcom dad. But not a Yankees setup man.