Rivals have suddenly reversed their course
NEW YORK — You’ve got to like the way this is going. We’re seeing a team on the way up against a team on a southbound train.
The Red Sox thrashed the Yankees in the Bronx last night, 6-0. That means the Sox are 4-1 against the Bombers this year. And tonight we’re looking at Jon Lester on the mound for Boston while Freddy Garcia toes the slab for the unraveling Yanks.
Did I mention that the Yankees are in disarray? New York has lost four straight. The Yanks can’t hit with runners in scoring position. And with Jorge Posada refusing to play last night, they are on the brink of mutiny. It’s almost like the good old days when George and Billy and Reggie went toe-to-toe-to-toe. But those guys were champions. The 2011 Yankees are playing like chumps. Happy Day.
Meanwhile, your Red Sox are coming up on the quarter-mark of an underwhelming season and look like they might finally be getting straight. Tonight they have a chance to climb to .500 for the first time. Josh Beckett smothered the Yanks last night with six shutout innings (nine strikeouts) and Adrian Gonzalez hit his eighth homer since May 3, a three-run shot off CC Sabathia that sealed the game in the seventh.
The trends will be noticed across America. This is the big stage. We had Bob Costas Friday, Joe Buck last night, and tonight the Worldwide Leader comes to 161st Street to announce that the Bronx is burning.
Kind of a big deal. Even in May. Even when the Tampa Bay Rays are in first place in the American League East.
I’d be remiss if I failed to note that Sox-Yankees is not the top sports story in Boston at this hour. In this spirit, it should be mentioned that Sox interests once again are at odds with those of the Boston sports team battling in the playoffs.
Last week it was John Henry’s business partner and BFF LeBron James bouncing the Celtics from the playoffs. This week it’s Jeffrey Vinik’s Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals against the beloved Bruins. Vinik is a Red Sox limited partner. Not that it’s any of our business, but wouldn’t it be nice if the Boston Red Sox were on the same side as the rest of New England in one of these conflicts? What’s next — Fenway Sports Group going into business with the Indianapolis Colts? Or the Jets?
But I digress. Let’s get back to the Saturday Night Special at Yankee Stadium.
The Posada Adventure carried the night. Joe Girardi’s initial lineup had Posada batting ninth. Posada hasn’t batted in the nine-spot since 1999, and perhaps Girardi should have waited until the Sox left town to insult the vaunted veteran. Less than an hour before game time, Posada was scratched and replaced by Andruw Jones, another creaky guy who used to be good.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with the media during the third inning and said that Posada had asked to be removed and would talk after the game. This fueled speculation that Posada might retire. Or maybe he was just too insulted to bat ninth.
In some ways it was reminiscent of that fateful night in 2004 when Nomar Garciaparra said he couldn’t play for the Red Sox. It turned into a dramatic, extra-inning affair, highlighted by Derek Jeter diving into the stands while Nomar sat and pouted on the Sox bench. Nomie raised his hand for duty in overtime, but Terry Francona wasn’t having it. That was the night the Sox knew they had to trade Garciaparra.
There is no trading Posada. He is a core member of this Yankee dynasty. He’s also significantly south of the Mendoza line, 39 years old, and making more than $13 million this season.
After the game, Posada said he needed a night to clear his head. He’s invented a back injury. And he was clearly peeved that Cashman spoke to the media about him during the game.
“I think we should have waited till the game was over,’’ said the catcher/DH. “You’re not supposed to do that’’
Did he feel disrespected?
“A little bit,’’ said Posada.
Throwing Posada back under the bus, Girardi said, “I was not made aware of his back . . . You could take it as a guy just mentally needs a day off . . . It’s hard when you get older in this game.’’
Meanwhile, on the field, the Yankees who did elect to play continued to struggle. Mark Teixeira, the man the Sox coveted and lost, continues to struggle against Boston. Teixeira was 0 for 19 against the Sox this season before singling in the eighth. Contrast Teixeira with Gonzalez, who has five homers in his last four games and leads the American League with 34 RBIs.
At times like this, we really miss George Steinbrenner. The Boss would have had a lot to say last night.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.