Roger made Josh look like a little kid last night, that's for sure. He was throwing a no-hitter through five innings while the Yankees were taking Josh out to the woodshed, running up his pitch count over 100 by the sixth inning and touching him up for 13--yes, 13--hits on the night, though he somehow only surrendered four runs.
This was accomplished, basically, by a series of heart-attack-inducing innings like the bottom of the sixth, in which Josh loaded the bases, reached a 3-2 count on Johnny Damon, and then just barely tagged first before Damon's headfirst slide. So he literally just barely outran that inning.
Between innings they showed him in the dugout with one jacket sleeve on, first spitting out great brown wads of chew, then rinsing out his mouth with water from a Poland Spring bottle. NESN kept us there in vivid, hi-def detail while Josh spewed great quantities of water from his mouth to the dugout floor. I have no idea what we gained from having seen that, but thanks anyway, NESN.
"Joshua," I said with pity in my voice. "You're not going back out there, dear."
Um. Except he was. For a seventh inning that, well, in some ways felt like the worst possible kind of deja vu.
Josh almost hit Jeter with his first pitch, and as the ball was tossed back to him he grinned a sly grin to himself quite openly on the mound. He also looked to be hollering things at teammates, and looked like he was rushing through the inning, like he couldn't wait to throw the next pitch.
He managed to get a lineout from Jeter and a gift strike call on Bobby Abreu before Abreu swung and missed at a pretty bad pitch. "He is just totally horseshit out there," I said out loud as A-Rod came to the plate. Don Orsillo was saying something about how you don't send your ace out there for one out in the inning without giving him a chance to win the game, so apparently this one was about the manly codes of ethics embedded in baseball rather than, you know, actually winning the contest. Because I had a terrible feeling as A-Rod came up. Josh threw him a ball. "We're playing with fire, here," I said, and no sooner had the words left my mouth than Beckett's second pitch to A-Rod left the yard. It wasn't even that spectacular a home run--more like a Vladi Guerrerro style homer, a little flick of the bat and a neat drop into the stands.
Josh walked off the field defeated while Yankee stadium howled.
After that, Okajima was warmed up again for no reason, as Lopez and Timlin were brought in. The Sox plated two more runs on a key Kevin Youkilis homer, but then Mariano Rivera came out of the same time machine they apparently put Roger in and schooled us to put the game on ice. In the end, that stupid, needless, foolish homer to A-Rod is what made the difference in this game.
Anyone who read this blog last season knows I'm about as staunch a Tito apologist as you'll find. But in this case, even I have to quote a great man when I ask, is Tito on peyote? That was a Grady-Little-esque performance on his part last night, and I do not appreciate it.
Lots of people around here have been saying lots of things that make me cringe. Things like, "Even if they sweep us..." The Sox and Yankees were in the precise same place in the standings on this date in 1978. Stranger things have absolutely happened. Personally, I think it's time to be concerned a bit, maybe, by the fact that the Yankees suddenly seem to have sprouted pitching to complement their deadly offense, and the idea that maybe they're for real this year after all. Perhaps at this point at least some sense of urgency would be appropriate.
The thing I'm sick of hearing the most is, "Even if they sweep us, it would be ok." Because it would not. It would not be ok.