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Home » May 2006 Game CommentsMay 2006 » Alight


Game 34: May 11, 2006
Red Sox (21-13), 5
Yankees (19-13), 3
W: Tim Wakefield (3-4)
H: Mike Timlin (9)
H: Keith Foulke (3)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (13)
H: Mike Myers (4)
H, L: Ron Villone (1, 0-1)
BS: Kyle Farnsworth (1)

The score probably could have been 17-3 in the Red Sox favor, but heaven forbid them supplying Tim Wakefield with such gaudy run support. Boston had difficulty converting bases loaded situations into runs in the first, fifth, and sixth innings but still managed squeak out a victory and support the knuckleballer to gain just his third win of 2006. Wakefield was lambent in his six innings; his line of six hits, three earned runs, three walks, and nine strikeouts once again demonstrated that he, not George Steinbrenner, holds the title to the Gotham club.

Joe Torre managed this game as if the pennant was on the line. And who knows, it very well could have been. These teams ended last season deadlocked in the standings, the only difference being the Yankees winning the season series by a single game. Knowing that he lost a key player in Hideki Matsui for perhaps the remainder of the season, Torre had enough foresight to maneuver as if the season depended on them winning last night’s game.

The instant Shawn Chacon showed vulnerability in the fifth inning he was pulled. The score was 3-1 in New York’s favor, but Chacon allowed walks by Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Peña and a single by Mike Lowell to load the bases with two out. Scott Proctor induced Doug Mirabelli to fly out to right for the final out.

For defensive gems, everyone will point out Kevin Youkilis’s back-handed catch of Johnny Damon’s liner in the second, Bubba Crosby’s pickpocketing of Mike Lowell in the third, or Damon’s thievery of Mirabelli in the in the fourth. But I submit Peña’s bizarre route to Jason Giambi’s fly ball in the first as the play of the night. The center fielder started back with the swing without even knowing where the ball was. He eventually figured out the ball’s trajectory, realized it was buffeted by winds back towards the infield, and had to compensate. Amazingly, he nabbed the ball, on the run as he usually does. Cat-like reflexes, like when a cat is suddenly awakened by a loud noise and darts in one direction, but then gets its bearings and discerns what it must do. (Analogy to Peña’s fielding strategy furnished by NU50.)

Speaking of catty, I must comment on Alex Rodriguez grabbing his wrist following his dive after Mark Loretta’s fair-seeming foul ground ball down the third base line in the fourth. Was that some sort of play for sympathy, so that he would have an excuse if the ball was called fair?

Rodriguez would do well to see how Loretta comported himself running down the first base line in the seventh inning. With runners on second and third with two out, Loretta knocked a hard grounder to Derek Jeter, who threw from his knees to Miguel Cairo. Cairo had to jump to catch the ball, which was not snug enough in the glove to remain there with Cairo’s tag. While Loretta was demonstrating proper baseball behavior, Willie Harris and Alex Gonzalez scored to grant the Red Sox a one-run lead.

The Red Sox illustrated they could close out tight games with shutdown innings by Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, and Jonathan Papelbon. Foulke did have a spot of difficulty in the eighth when he gave up a leadoff of double to Bernie Williams, but Terry Francona let him work out of it by getting the next two batters out. It was only when Williams reached third on Robinson Cano’s ground out that Francona went to Papelbon. While the rookie closer allowed no earned runs, Mariano Rivera permitted Harris to leadoff with a single and eventually score an insurance run.

The game was frustrating at times but ultimately satisfying, a bit like eating a lobster. Papelbon proved he can beat Farnsworth both with the Xbox and on the field and Loretta showed that it’s not how much, but when. Thanks to the upcoming rains, we might not see Red Sox baseball for a while, so relish this series win.


> Loretta showed that it’s not how much, but when.

Indeed. Good point.

Nice analysis of Peña’s odd play in center, too. I have to hold my breath every time a ball is hit out there...

Thanks, jpo.

I was thinking about your WPA calculations and I thought of a shortcoming. There isn't a metric that tracks the performance of a batter that can work their way out of an 0-2 count to a full count, which I would count as a something of a successful at bat.

Similarly, nothing for pitchers who strikeout out a hitter after falling behind 3-0.

As helpful as WPA is for the outcome of a single situation, it cannot account for the process of getting there. Still, it's a great tool

"...a bit like eating a lobster."

What an analogy! So true, though, although I think to be fully accurate, the hypothetical lobster would have had to repeatedly threaten to return from the dead and grab various pieces of anatomy tightly in its claws before being knocked silly (and cracked open) by a well-placed grounder from Loretta and some nice Papelheat.

Is it shellfish of me to want more run support for Tim Wakefield?

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