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Home » April 2007 Game CommentsApril 2007 » Fulcrum


Game 16: April 21, 2007
Yankees 5 L: Jeff Karstens (0-1) 8-8, 2 game losing streak
2-3-1 series record
WinRed Sox 7 W: Josh Beckett (4-0)
H: Hideki Okajima (1)
H: Mike Timlin (1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (5)
11-5, 4 game winning streak
4-1-1 series record
Highlights: Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory invited me to this game so I was thankfully spared of Tim McCarver. The Fenway deejay played the usual suite of Saturday songs: Saturday in the Park, Saturday Night (by the Bay City Rollers, not the Misfits), Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), and so forth. The last song was not particularly well-suited for the occasion; it was a day game and the rambunctious fans that did try to fight weren’t “alright” with security.

It seemed Jeff Karstens didn’t stand a chance. He was the starter by default because of injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and Carl Pavano. Karstens was drafted in 2003 in the 19th round, the same year Abe Alvarez, David Murphy, and Jonathan Papelbon were drafted by the Red Sox. Since he was converted to pitcher as a prospect, Karstens has relied upon his sinkerball and therefore his infield defense to convert nibbling pitches into outs. That he had five ground outs compared to seven fly ball outs is indicative of his outing.

The first two times through the rotation the Yankee starter managed to contain David Ortiz to warning track shots to the right. But in the fourth, with Kevin Youkilis on first due to a five-pitch free pass, Ortiz turned on a pitch and neatly deposited it just beyond Pesky’s Pole to add to the Red Sox lead.

As magnificent as a home run can be, that was hardly surprising. What was an astonishing spectacle, at least for Red Sox fans, were the consecutive bunts for base hits in the second inning by Coco Crisp and Alex Cora. I leaned over to Jere and said, “Now there’s something you won’t see the Red Sox do often.” In fact, OttoC of SoSH, using Retrosheet data, found just six instances of this for Boston since 1967. Both runners would eventually score after a giddy sequence of a wild pitch, ground out by Julio Lugo, and single authored by Kevin Youkilis.

Josh Beckett persevered through six and two-thirds innings of work with a line of 9 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. He opened the seventh frame easily enough with two quick outs. This lulled the crowd into complacency and disinterest, prompting a group of bleacher fans to commence the wave. Just as the wave finally rippled around the entire bowl Beckett allowed an RBI single to Alex Rodriguez, placing the tying run at first and the go-ahead run at the dish. Beckett was pulled from the mound with much ovation, and that same fervor greeted Hideki Okajima when he toed the rubber and notes of “Praise You” drifted through the sultry air.

The wave’s adherents settled and the crowd bleakly realized their team faced a resurgent Yankee threat. Okajima struck out Jason Giambi, skillfully showing Mike Myers what a LOOGY should do. The wiry southpaw stuck around for the top of the eighth to eliminate Robinson Cano before yielding to Mike Timlin.

Jonathan Papelbon turned in a textbook save but for walking Melky Cabrera, but that seemed more a function of Bob Davidson putting the squeeze on rather than the relief ace’s ability.

So, in the American League East the balance tips to the Red Sox favor early. I offered the Yankee fan with whom I had a bet with last season to wager again in 2007 and haven’t heard from him. If the Yankees continue to perform like this, even with Rodriguez’s remarkable production, I doubt I’ll hear from him for the next few months.

Photos from yesterday’s game to be posted shortly.

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