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Home » April 2008 Game CommentsApril 2008 » Rectify


Game 17: April 17, 2008
WinRed Sox 7 W: Josh Beckett (2-1) 10-7, 1 game winning streak
Yankees 5 L: Mike Mussina (1-3) 9-8, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: The blind item that Peter Gammons wrote long ago about how an Ivy League-caliber player didn’t want to be drafted by a New York team because of the diversity of the city still haunts Mussina, but him plunking Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t make a good case for the aging righty’s tolerance. What is appealing about Mussina is that the Yankees continue to display him and his decaying skills every fifth day, much to Boston’s benefit.

Manny Ramirez blasted two home runs last night, one to dead center and another high into the left field stands. The pair of moonshots brought him to a career total of 495 and sole possession of 24th place in total home runs.

Of all the members of the visiting team only David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t manage a hit off Mike Mussina. Even the hobbled Kevin Youkilis racked up two hits and two runs. Every Red Sox player felt poised to boost their hit totals last night: after flying out to shallow center Sean Casey slumped his shoulders, his body language conveying that even he should have launched Mussina’s slops into the stands.

Indeed, Mussina’s fastball is the speed of Josh Beckett’s change-up. Beckett turned in a performance that showed that not only is he working his way back to in-season shape but also that can set aside his desire to strike out every batter he faces. Instead of going for the macho kill, Beckett pitched efficiently to contact, inducing 11 ground outs and eight fly outs while whiffing five. In just 105 pitches he dispatched 24 batters with just a three-run hiccup in the fifth.

Jonathan Papelbon allowed the Yankees back into the game with a fat fastball to Melky Cabrera in the ninth. Cabrera sent the few remaining fans in Stade Fasciste into a frenzy with his two-run four-bagger, but that briefest flash of hope was all they would see.

One couldn’t draw a better ending to the game: Papelbon sat the recently-wedded Hideki Matsui with a mere four pitches. After the game, Matsui told reporters that his wife was saddened by his lack of clutch hitting and held up an artist’s rendering showing a disappointed Mrs. Matsui.

And thus the universe is almost set completely aright: the Red Sox are back in first, back at Fenway (where I’m going tonight), and the weather is ideally suited for baseball. All that is left is for Beckett, or another pitcher, to avenge Kyle Farnsworth’s headhunting of Ramirez. Since the game was close, last night wasn’t the time, but come July, a Yankee hitter will have the imprint of baseball stitches on some part of his anatomy.

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