|Derek Jeter had something to celebrate after the final out. (MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS)|
Yankees get some treats from Schilling
NEW YORK -- Unlike the cyberspace correspondent on the mound for the Red Sox last night, the late Red Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, limited his labors in Yankee Stadium to the press box. "Writing is easy," Smith once famously said. "You just open a vein and bleed."
Pitching can cost you a few corpuscles, too, as Curt Schilling can just as famously attest. And on nights when you're faced with double duty -- pitching, then blogging about it afterward -- both can be painful exercises.
Schilling may have to thumb through a thesaurus to come up with words to describe the beating he absorbed last night at the hands of the Yankees. They bolted to a 3-0 lead three hitters into the game, took Schilling deep twice in six innings, and amassed 12 hits, the most allowed by the righthander in three years, on the way to an 8-3 win behind Andy Pettitte in the rubber game of this three-game set.
"Inconsistent on counts and pitches," Schilling said. "Consistently inconsistent. Andy throwing the way he's throwing, the last thing you want to do is put your team in the hole, force them to be aggressive. We were never in this game because I couldn't execute.
"I don't think I threw any real good pitches that they got hits. Most of their hits were on mistakes that they hammered."
A crowd of 55,000 was still pouring off the subways and the Major Deegan Expressway when Johnny Damon opened with a double, Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single, and Hideki Matsui cracked a two-run home run in the first.
"Letter-high fastball, middle of the plate, it was supposed to be down and away," Schilling said cryptically about the home run.
The Yankees stitched together a bunt single, a throwing error by Julio Lugo, and two infield hits to make it 4-0 in the second. Alex Rodriguez doubled and scored on Jorge Posada's single in the third, and Doug Mientkiewicz, who had not gotten a hit off Schilling in six previous career at-bats, hit a home run off the facade of the upper deck to open the fourth, making it 6-0.
"I would say location of his fastball early really put him in a bind," Sox manager Terry Francona said.
The Yankees took two of three from the Sox and also were buoyed by the news that down the road in Trenton, N.J., Roger Clemens threw 102 pitches against Boston's Double A farm team, the Portland Sea Dogs, in what might have been his last rehearsal before he struts back onstage in the American League East.
Whether Clemens plays a leading role in a Yankee comeback or is relegated to bit player in a Sox runaway remains to be seen, but by the time the Yankees show up next weekend in Boston, Clemens is expected to be back in pinstripes.
"We can't worry about what they're doing," said Jason Varitek, invoking what has become a mantra in the Sox' clubhouse. "We just have to play good baseball."
The Yankees' win cut a game off the sizable lead Boston brought into the Bronx, the Sox heading to Texas with a 9 1/2-game advantage.
"We have to think about winning series," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "This is just one. We have to be consistent. We haven't been able to be consistent, but we have to start now."
Last night, Clemens's close friend, Pettitte, limited the Sox to a run on nine hits in seven innings and living up to his reputation as a man you want on the mound after a loss. As a Yankee, Pettitte is 65-29 in games after a Bomber defeat.
The Sox did not advance a runner as far as third base in the first five innings. They finally broke through in the sixth on doubles by Manny Ramírez and Mike Lowell, who drove in his 37th run, tied for the team lead with David Ortiz.
Coco Crisp led off the eighth with a home run off reliever Kyle Farnsworth. It was Crisp's first of the season, ending a drought of 179 at-bats dating to Sept. 6, 2006, when he took Jose Contreras of the White Sox deep. Farnsworth then walked Ortiz and inexplicably had the notion that he should hold Ortiz close to the bag. That novel thought cost him a balk, as first baseman Mientkiewicz was playing off the bag, forcing Farnsworth to eat the ball. It then cost him a run, as Kevin Youkilis singled Ortiz home. Youkilis earlier had doubled, extending his hitting streak to 16 games.
The Yankees extended their lead against the Sox' bullpen. Jeter, who had three hits, tripled and scored on Matsui's single in the seventh, both hits coming off Brendan Donnelly.
Joel Piñeiro entered to pitch the eighth and got two quick outs, but Mientkiewicz doubled, his third hit, and scored on Damon's single, hit No. 3 for him as well.
The Yankees, who had 16 hits, then brought in Mariano Rivera to finish off the Sox. The Sox were hard on Rivera last month -- racking up seven hits and six runs in two innings against the Yankees closer. Rivera had to have wondered if he was in for another trying night when Wily Mo Peña hit a ground ball off the end of his bat that skidded down the first base line for a double.
But Rivera rebounded to retire the next two batters, Dustin Pedroia and Lugo, on called third strikes by umpire C.B. Bucknor, who rang up Crisp for the game's final out when he was unable to check his swing.
In all three games, the team that seized the lead early went on to win easily, with none of the momentum swings these teams are famous for when they play each other.
"Like we were talking about last night, scoring early, and not just one but a crooked number, and then if you add on, it makes it very difficult to win," said Francona. "That's exactly what they did tonight. Three in the first certainly don't beat you, but when they add one, one, one, it starts spreading it out, certainly makes it a lot more difficult to win."
Gordon Edes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.