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Home » August 2009 Game CommentsAugust 2009 » Bide


Game 123: August 23, 2009
W: C.C. Sabathia (15-7)
H: Phil Hughes (14)
78-46, 1 game winning streak
Red Sox4
L: Josh Beckett (14-5)
70-53, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Joe Morgan’s microphone malfunctioned for a blissful half inning.

There was little else joyful about the closing game of this series. From Josh Beckett’s first pitch (which Derek Jeter deposited in the Red Sox bullpen for his 2,700th hit) to Mariano Rivera’s final cutter (that Jacoby Ellsbury whiffed on), every play demonstrated that the Yankees have the best team money can buy.

Who needs to go all out on a short fly to shallow left when your bats will bail you out? That seemed to be Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, and Melky Cabrera’s collective attitude when they let Mike Lowell’s blooper bounce for a single in the sixth. That carelessness led to Kevin Youkilis advancing to third and then scoring on Rocco Baldelli’s sacrifice fly to right.

ESPN producers have two annoying camera techniques: the follow shot, in which the camera man attempts to jog alongside his subject, and the extreme close-up, where the audience can observe every pore and follicle of the player. Since Beckett relinquished five home runs, including two to Hideki Matsui, ESPN cameramen had a field day chronicling each Yankee’s circuit along the third base line to home and then down the dugout steps. Matsui’s face was not made for high definition.

ESPN tried to imbue this game with the same significance that match-ups between Juan Marichal of the Giants and Sandy Koufax from the Dodgers had.

On August 22, 1965, Marichal hit Johnny Roseboro in the head with his bat because he thought the Dodgers catcher was throwing to close to his head on his return throws to Koufax. The resulting brawl lasted 14 minutes and Roseboro required 14 stitches. Marichal was suspended for 9 games and fined $1,750. The suspension may have knocked the Giants out of the pennant race that year, and of course there was no wild card. The Dodgers went on to win the Fall Classic, Sandy Koufax’s last championship.

As tempting as it might have been for Beckett, no Yankees players were blemished by a ball or bruised by a bat. The Red Sox seems to be biding their time, conserving their energy by maintaining its lead in the wild card chase and foregoing an all-out assault for the division lead. While losing the battle to win the war is the rational strategy, it would have been satisfying to win the last home series against the Yankees.

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