The Red Sox hold a commanding 7-1 season-series lead thus far and even if the Yankees win tonight, the Red Sox have won all 3 series played so far. Earlier in the year they took 2 out of 3 in Boston, then they swept a 3-game series at Yankee Stadium and now have won the first 2 games of a 3-game set in the Bronx.
As usual there were some elements of bad blood between these two LONG TIME foes. In Game 1 Yankee manager Joe Girardi took exception to slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz' sarcastic flip of the bat after belting a 2-run home run off of rookie Hector Noesi in Boston's 6-4 win. After the game Girardi said, “Yeah, I didn’t really care for it. I’ve never had a problem with David Ortiz. He’s been a clutch player for a long time. My reaction’s probably more protecting our young kid. And that’s what I’m going to do.” In other words, "Don't hurt my young kid's feelings, Papi."
Ortiz responded by saying it wasn't his intention to mock the Yankees and their young pitcher. He simply said, "That's Papi's style." And then did his best Babe Ruth impersonation by GUARANTEEING he would hit another home run in Game 2. Surely enough he smacked a 3-run homer off of A.J. Burnett in the first inning of Game 2, which the Red Sox won 11-6. In other words, "TAKE THAT WHINERS!" However, no sarcastic bat flipping this time.
The Red Sox have now won the first 5 games played between the two at Yankee Stadium marking the first time since 1912 that the Red Sox win the first 5 on the road in their historic rivalry with the Yankees. The ageless Tim Wakefield with his patented knuckleball notched his 196th career win as the Red Sox took sole possession of first place in the AL East, one game ahead of the Yankees.
Another interesting highlight from last night's game came from former Yankee Alfredo Aceves who notched a good old-fashioned SAVE in the sweltering heat. Aceves saved the game the way the old-school guys used to do it. He pitched a solid 3.2 innings allowing 4 hits and only one run as he preserved the win for Wakefield who went 5.1 IP. That is something rarely seen in today's game with the evolution of the 7th and 8th inning set-up men and the 9th inning specialist over the past 2 decades. Aceves earned his SAVE the hard way like Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Sparky Lyle and them guys used to do it back in the days. In 3+ innings Aceves was the set-up man and the closer for manager Terry Francona and the BoSox. A clutch performance, indeed!
Anyway, tonight the Yankees look to salvage the final game of the 3-game set and move back into a first-place tie with the Red Sox. Considering where the Red Sox were at the start of the season (0-6 and 2-10) the Yankees should feel lucky to be tied for first place. Had the Red Sox played (at least) .500 baseball to start the season they would probably have a 4 to 5 game lead right now over the Yanks. No doubt.
For the record, here's Big Papi's latest comment on FLIP BAT-GATE, "I don't care what Joe Girardi says. Take it like a man. I'm done with that."
OUCH! Gotta love Yankees-Red Sox!