Posted by: JoeD2133 | April 19, 2008

4/17: Red Sox 7, Yankees 5

               Sometimes you have to swallow your pride as a pitcher, and realize that your 86 MPH fastball just isn’t good enough.  Sometimes, you have to realize when an opposing hitter has your number categorically, and just walk the guy.  Live to fight another day, in other words, and give your team a chance to win the ballgame.

                Since some indeterminate, star-crossed pitch a few years back, Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox has owned Mike Mussina, plain and simple.  And may I be the first person to say that the Moose is either too smart for his own good, too stupid for somebody so smart, or just plain stubborn in his decisions to both pitch to Ramirez in the first place, and then in his particular pitch selection during each at-bat.

                In whose reality is an 86 MPH fastball going to get buy, sneak past, or even surprise one of the best all-around hitters to play the game, especially when it has a tendency to drift back toward the middle of the plate, every, single, frightening time?

                Just walk the guy, Mike.  Everyone will understand.

                But no, the lukewarm heater is thrown, the red-hot man with the elongated dreads takes his stride, and with each lightening, powerful swing that sends these pitches on a permanent vacation from the Stadium, his smiles grow wider, his homerun trot more loose and more confident.

                And there Mike Mussina stands, alone on the mound with his thoughts, as his personal nemesis circles and circles like a hawk on the breeze.  During Thursday night’s final game against Boston until July, Manny was Manny not once, but twice off of Mike, playing a prominent role in knocking him out of the game after only three innings and five runs scored.  Jonathan Albaladejo pitched well in relief but allowed two more runs over a few innings of work, and this game was quickly 7-0 Red Sox with Josh Beckett on the mound for our bitter rivals.

                Let’s be honest though, the Beckett versus Mussina match-up – twice in the past week, no less – is not exactly a game stacked in the Yankees favor is it?

                So when The Farns reared back in the late innings and drilled Manny Ramirez with a fastball between the numbers, the Stadium finally had something to cheer about, and Ramirez finally had something to think about at the plate.  Farnsworth would later say the pitch had “slipped… sometimes the balls get dry and they slip out,” but that’s because he has a 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, and he was exercising it well.  After all, it was only one night earlier that A-Rod was drilled between the numbers by Boston reliever Brad Aardsma, so nobody is going to fault The Farns either way.

                If anything, it served to brighten Kyle’s image in the eyes of the fans, in a way that having the back of your teammates always does, and inflicting some level of discomfort on your hated opponent’s best hitter tends to do.  In short, it put a smile on my face, what about yours?

                Maybe Mike Mussina should just start drilling Ramirez too.  There’s no doubt that it would be a lot more effective, and less damaging to his ERA, that’s for sure.  How could it not be?

                This sleepy, frustrating affair was over early in the Bronx, probably around the second time Manny traced an arcing, happy circle around his favorite Yankees pitcher, and Beckett’s loan three-run hiccup in the sixth only stirred the comeback thoughts for a heartbeat, and then they were gone.  The Boston Ace went on to work eight complete, efficient innings of winning baseball, and even Papelbon’s shaky close wasn’t enough to turn this one around.

                Sometimes, when the winds change for the long haul, short term corrections in the air patterns still must be endured, and hopefully, used as a learning experience.

                Mike, just walk Manny.  Please.

                Manny, watch your back, kid.  These aren’t the same Yankees.

                And  Paps, you are not invincible, son, especially when you’re trying to close out your city’s biggest rival.  The list of shaky ninths, and blown saves, is growing longer by the day.

                Remember all of this for July, when New York versus Boston resumes. 

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