Monday, August 10, 2009

Boston Massacre (2009 edition)

[photo of Mark Teixeira courtesy of Barton Silverman/NY Times]

The Bronx is burning but in the most beautiful of ways.

What a weekend: the calendar may have read August but it felt
like October playoffs in The House That George Built. Oh, yes.

After the ignominy of going 0-8 this season against the Red Sux, the Yankees finally got that monkey off their backs Thursday night and won their first of four in the Bronx against their dreaded Boston rivals, who sent the sure-fire Hall of Famer John Smoltz to the mound in what was very likely his disastrous farewell from the game.
(The former Braves great was designated for assignment the next day.) Joba Chamberlain did not have the stuff of his 3 previous most excellent starts but, thankfully, the Bronx Bombers showed up and promptly handed the Sux a loud 13-6 defeat.

Friday night’s Duel of the Former Floridians, ex-Marlins pitchers Josh Beckett for the Sux and A.J. Burnett for the home team, turned out to be even better than anticipated. Both hurlers were indeed masterful for 7 and 7 2/3 scoreless innings, respectively, and set the stage for a thrilling 5 and a half hour contest that remained scoreless until a 2-run shot from A-Rod in the bottom of the 15th mercifully ended it all on a 2-0 score.

The Sux’s Clay Buckholz did a respectable job, but Saturday afternoon’s game was all about The Big Man, CC Sabathia, who along with Burnett the day before, showed all of NY why they get paid the big bucks. Absolutely superb, he was. Yankees win 5-0.

On Sunday, in the hours leading to the final game—televised by ESPN—the YES Network offered up two favorite Yankee Classics:

"The Bucky Dent Game" (Oct. 1, 1978) and "The John Flaherty Game" (July 1, 2004), as they are respectively known to Yankee fans for the heroics of both former Yankees against the Red Sux. (The latter is also memorable for Derek Jeter's bloody game-saving leap into the stands.) Just getting the fans pumped up for the sweep, right?

The last time Yankee pitching had deigned to allow a run in this series—earned or otherwise—was in the 9th inning of Thursday’s series opener. Well, for 7 more innings Andy Pettite saw to it that the zeroes remained intact until newly acquired Sux C/1B Victor Martinez crushed a 2-run bomb against Yankee reliever Phil Coke in the 8th, ending the Sux’s drought of 31 consecutive scoreless innings.

In the bottom of the 8th, losing 2-1—the lone Yankee run a blast from Friday night’s hero, A-Rod, in the 7th—the Comeback Kids got right back into the game thanks to back-to-back homers from Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira—for the sixth time this season; a new Yankees record—and subsequently adding 2 more runs for a 5-2 victory and Mariano Rivera’s 32nd save of the year.

To paraphrase the great Jackie Gleason, how sweep it is!

There’s still some 50-odd games left for the Yankees but it’s not a bad idea to stop and smell the sweet aroma of what they have accomplished at this moment:

- a 6.5 game lead over the second place Red Sux
- the best record in all of baseball both at home (39-17) and overall (69-42)
- 7 consecutive wins

I have really enjoyed watching this team and the contagious nature of its current vibe. (To witness Melky Cabrera, Robinson CanĂ³ and Nick Swisher dance in the dugout after the Damon-Tex one-two punch in the 8th inning of Sunday night’s game just says it all.)
And of late, both Mo and manager Joe Girardi have compared the current Yankee roster to the championship dynasty of the late '90s. Sweet.

Man, I haven’t been this happy since the 5-game Boston Massacre of 2006 at Fenway. (The late Cory Lidle—RIP—pitched 6 scoreless innings in the final game of that series.) It sure feels good to be a fan of the pinstripes right about now, I must say.

PS: Anything from David Ortiz—aka "Big Floppy"—regarding his PED use, besides an open apology, is bullshit.

Happy Juneteenth!