Manny Ramírez pulled one of his occasional disappearing acts into the left-field scoreboard during a pitching change last night. Given the exhibition of sorry pitching he was required to endure throughout the day, no one would have blamed him if he'd decided not to come back.
The Yankees batted around a shocking four times -- twice in each game -- the last time in a seven-run seventh inning that left the Red Sox bullpen in pieces scattered across the Fens. Sox owners John W. Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino couldn't have known while picking up trash in the stands between games that they might receive a callback to retrieve the remnants of a pitching staff shattered beyond recognition yesterday in a 12-4, 14-11 doubleheader sweep by the Bombers.
The day of baseball started at 1:07 p.m. yesterday and ended at 12:52 a.m. today, with the Sox 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Nine Sox pitchers combined to throw a staggering 431 pitches in the losses.
It was still the seventh inning of Game 2 when the center-field scoreboard flashed the news that the last T would be pulling out of the Kenmore Square station at 12:35 a.m. At 12:19, with the game still in the top of the eighth, it already had become the longest nine-inning regular-season game in major league history. The nine innings took 4 hours 45 minutes.
Whether the express train to October already has departed with the Sox left standing on the platform remains to be seen -- Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling are on call in the next two days. But the Yankees have their aces, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina, on deck as well as they seek to extend their biggest lead of the summer against the Sox.
``We're in trouble," said David Ortiz, whose 43d home run of the season, off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 2, was of little consequence on a day the Bombers collected 34 hits. ``Any time you score 11 runs and lose, you're in trouble. But what are you going to do? Keep playing. That's all you can do. I feel like I just got my butt kicked. And I did."
The prevailing sentiment in the visitors' clubhouse, of course, was one of satisfaction.
``Well, two is a bonus for us," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``Now we have Randy and Moose going for us in the next two games. Certainly our confidence is sky high. We'll be a little exhausted, but so will they later on today."
The roll call of victims began with Jason Johnson, the Game 1 starter who was shipped out after the game, and ended with Mike Timlin, who gave up the bases-loaded double to Derek Jeter that chased three runs across the plate to give the Yankees an 11-10 lead. Three more runs would score before Timlin walked slowly off the mound, boos dogging his every step.
``It would be beneficial if Beckett went deep into the game," said manager Terry Francona, who hinted strongly that the Sox are likely to make a move to bring in a fresh arm for this afternoon's game.
Last night, perhaps anticipating that help would be needed, Pawtucket's Kason Gabbard was scratched before his scheduled start.
The Yankees had 17 hits in each game, six by former Sox icon Johnny Damon, who had a home run both in the matinee and nightcap. Newcomer Bobby Abreu also had six hits, trumping the debut of Sox newcomer Eric Hinske, who had three doubles in the first game but went 0 for 3 in the nightcap.
There was really only one reason for Ramírez to return: After cruising to an easy 12-4 win in Game 1 against Johnson, who may have thrown his last pitch in a Boston uniform, the Yankees tried to double their pleasure last night by throwing their own punching bag against the Sox, Sidney Ponson.
That worked about as well as the Sox starting a guy (Johnson) whom they planned to designate for assignment as soon as he completed his labors. The Sox, an inconceivable 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position in Game 1, which apparently inspired them to go into seclusion rather than face the media horde between games, scored in each of the first five innings in the nightcap.
Staked to leads of 5-1 and 7-5 as the Yankees slapped around rookie Jon Lester, who lasted even less time than Johnson (3 2/3 innings to Johnson's 4 1/3), Ponson never got out of the fourth inning, leaving with the bases loaded, no one out, and Ortiz coming to the plate.
Ortiz brought home one run with a checked-swing force out against lefty reliever Ron Villone, and Ramírez tied the score at 7 by lashing a single to left, renewing hopes that the Sox might at least salvage a split.
They enhanced their chances by tacking on three runs in the fifth, the big hit a two-run single by Mark Loretta, the sixth hit of the day for a player whom the Sox tried to peddle earlier this week to the Detroit Tigers.
The Sox fared considerably better against Ponson than they had in Game 1 against starter Chien-Ming Wang and three relievers. The Sox had their share of hits -- 10 in all, including Ramírez's 33d home run and three doubles apiece by Loretta and Hinske, who made his Red Sox debut in right field in the matinee and showed up at first base in the nightcap, moving up two spots in the batting order (from seventh to fifth) in the process.
But while Damon set the tone against Johnson, tripling to open the game then hitting a two-run home run when the Yankees chased Johnson in the fifth, the Sox could not deliver when it counted most.
Still, it was just 4-3, Bombers, in the seventh when Sox third baseman Mike Lowell couldn't handle Jeter's one-out bouncer, the ball clanking off his glove for an error, his first in 71 games.
Instead of two outs and nobody on, the Yankees had an opening, and capitalized. Abreu, who had four hits and a walk, singled Jeter to second, and Jason Giambi brought him home by bouncing a hit up the middle. Alex Rodriguez set aside the assorted demons supposedly keeping him regular company these days and doubled to left, scoring Abreu and ending reliever Kyle Snyder's turn for the afternoon.
Robinson Cano then greeted Manny Delcarmen by lining a two-run single to right, and the Yankee lead had grown to 8-3.
The Bombers then teed off for four more runs in the ninth against Rudy Seanez, a ritual sacrifice on a day Francona was trying to save his bullpen. Seanez did not help himself by walking four batters in the inning, the second time that afternoon the Bombers batted through the order.
``When you get to your bullpen when we did, the Yankees have a way of making you pay for it," Francona said. ``Rudy took one for the team, and it's not fun, but you can't go through your whole bullpen to keep it within six or seven. Sometimes it's tough to watch."
The Sox gave Lester a 1-0 lead in the nightcap when Ortiz doubled and came around on Ramírez's single, but he unraveled in a 41-pitch second inning in which he walked three batters and gave up an RBI double to Cano, an RBI single to Melky Cabrera and an RBI single to Damon, who was making it his business to torment his former adoring masses.
Damon, who came within a double of hitting for the cycle in the first game, singled in each of his first two at-bats in the second game, then hit his 20th home run with a man aboard off Lester in the fourth.
Lester was charged with seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings; the kid who began his big league career 5-0 has an ERA of 9.88 in his last three starts.