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Home » August 2007 Game CommentsAugust 2007 » Daida [代打]

Daida [代打]

Game 132: August 28, 2007
Red Sox 3 L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-11) 80-52, 1 game losing streak
27-11-5 series record
WinYankees 5 W: Andy Pettitte (12-7)
H: Joba Chamberlain (4)
S: Mariano Rivera (21)
73-59, 1 game winning streak
21-19-2 series record
Highlights: In the second Manny Ramirez lined his 20th home run of the season into the right field stands. Ramirez didn’t play out the game due to back spasms and was replaced by Bobby Kielty in the seventh. Kielty was still ailing from his encounter with the bullpen wall at Fenway, however, so Eric Hinske was the daida (pinch hitter) for him in the eighth. The first symbol 代 means substitution and 打 can be found in many baseball terms as it symbolizes hit.

The Red Sox chipped away at the Yankee’s early lead in fits and starts. Although the visitors matched their opponents in hits they never topped them in the run tally.

The Yankee victory deceptively painted an encouraging picture for tens of thousands of deluded Bronx fans. I almost pity them; they showed up in droves, full of beer and bitterness, thinking that a single game will alter their team’s destiny and reverse the downward trajectory of the club’s record. Even before Dustin Pedroia lined out to Bobby Abreu (who completed the catch since it was no where near a wall) a resounding chant of “Boston sucks” echoed throughout Stade Fasciste.

I was never an advocate of the Red Sox equivalent. To me it was the embodiment of decades, even generations, of futility and discontent distilled into a rote phrase of feigned disdain.

After six years of barrenness, half a dozen seasons of being denied their God-given right to a World Championship, who can blame Yankee fans for laying claim to that dirge of empty words?

As to the game itself, Daisuke Matsuzaka was out of sorts from the first inning, as jittery as the squirrel descending the right field foul pole. Johnny Damon slashed a single into center and advanced into scoring position on a fielder’s choice. Fiddling with his cap after every batter, a tell of his anxiety, Matsuzaka walked Abreu and hit Alex Rodriguez to jam the bases. Not that the always relevant Andy Rooney would care to tell this Rodriguez apart from any other, but the Yankees third baseman has been hit by more pitches than any other batter in the American League.

That is about as unexpected as the predictable induction of Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain into Cooperstown by their besotted minions or the supererogatory curtain call by Damon.

Matsuzaka endured six and one-third innings on the mound, composing a line of six hits, five earned runs, three bases and balls, and two strikeouts. His early shakiness never completely subsided and the equally inconsistent strike zone called by home plate umpire Derryl Cousins also contributed to an uncharacteristically poor outing. The rookie righty succumbed to his tendency to surrender the gopher ball in the fifth and seventh innings; Derek Jeter and Damon both notched their ninth home runs of the 2007 season.

Without the short porch in right, neither Yankee nor Manny Ramirez would have added four-baggers last night. Pedroia could even poke a cheap home run to right there, if he bothered to go to the opposite field.

(Note: I’m a huge Pedroia proponent, but as this interview with his coach at Arizona State University Pat Murphy shows, the second baseman succeeds when you tell him he can’t do something rather than when one feeds him fulsome flattery. His rolling dive after Damon’s grounder showcased his rough and tumble approach to the game.)

In 51 plate appearances with a career line of .348 BA, .392 OBP, and .478 slugging against Andy Pettitte, Jason Varitek never launched a home run until the seventh inning of last night’s game. Had Damon played the Canon corner like Ramirez it probably wouldn’t have even been a homer.

That clout along with Ramirez’s home run and David Ortiz’s sacrifice fly in the third were the only glimpses of the Red Sox offensive that was so incendiary against the White Sox.

J.D. Drew was included in the lineup because of his previous success against Pettitte, but .429 BA, .467 OBP, and .929 slugging meant nothing as the right fielder came up empty with a whiff and a GIDP with runners on base in the fourth and sixth. He also struck out with two runners on in the eighth against supposed future Hall of Famer Chamberlain. Actual future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera banished the final Red Sox trio in order, according Yankee fans a flicker of hope despite the odds.

It’s creepily cloying when Yankee fans ape the underdog role for two reasons: they believe they are entitled to the championship every year and the fact that their current lot isn’t as bad as they portray it to be. Obliviously they cavort through their stadium, swathed in postiche hair-shirts, bemoaning their denied destiny.

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