Wednesday, August 31, 2011

N.Y. Yankees ~ Bombers Win Game; If Nothing Else

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY


new york YANKEES
SP - Phil Hughes
SP - Josh Beckett


new york YANKEES:  Baseball; Head Games; and Cracker Jacks.

It wouldn't have been a Yankees/Red Sox game without a little drama; now would it?  And some-where in all that drama last night, there were lessons to be learned; messages to be sent; and realizations that need to be faced.

How many of last night's batters (4) were actually hit by pitches on purpose?  Here's the answer.  Who cares!  But let's talk about the one everyone is buzzing about today; Francisco Cervelli getting hit by John Lackey.

For his youthful; if not untamed; enthusiasm last night, Cervelli got a fastball in the back.  After he jacked a John Lackey pitch over the Green Monster; out of Fenway; and on to Lansdowne Street; cap off his home run trot, Francisco emphatically stomped on home plate and then seemingly turned to Salty, and clapped his hands almost as if it were directed at the Boston catcher.  Or, that's the way it looked.  John Lackey viewed all that from the mound and when Cervelli took his next turn at-bat, Lackey drilled him with a shoulder high fastball.  Francisco had some words for Lackey, and by the time Cervelli took a few steps, the benches had emptied and congregated in the area between home plate and the mound.


OK; we've been (exactly) here before with these two teams; except for maybe Francisco Cervelli.  He's been warned by his own team mates to tone down his act and to leave the pom-poms home.  Not heeding their advice, Francisco had some player-style justice exacted upon him.

The pitch was a fastball.  That's a message pitch.  You don't send messages with breaking balls.  And so we've now established the pitch was on purpose.  Everyone knows it.  But even as the players say, "That's Baseball".  And it is.  But if you watched it live, and over the numerous replays, John Lackey eased up on the pitch.  He took a couple miles-per-hour off that fastball he dotted Cervelli with.  I don't believe he gassed that pitch at him.  Lackey eased-up on the arm speed and deceptively followed through; disguising both his "compassion and disgust" well.  We know Lackey can bring it harder than that pitch.  Watch it again.  But make no mistake; it was a message pitch, and they are still intended to hurt.  Whether the pitch came in at 85mph or 90 mph, doesn't change the soreness of the memento Cervelli took back to the hotel with him.

Some players just need to learn where their spot in life is.  And some of those need to learn the hard way.  Francisco Cervelli got a lesson in both; he was warned.  He's a nice enough kid, but you need to do something in your career that (in this day and age) "entitles" one to that kind of  showmanship.   Then, ...the odds are you get the benefit of the doubt.  The fact is there were a ton of players on both sides at Fenway last night who own one or two championship rings each; to include John Lackey; and others who have even more.  Cervelli is not too far removed from getting excited about a ring from a Cracker-Jacks box.

Here's more reality about last night.  The Yankees may have won the game on the scoreboard.  But that one pitch was a shot across their bow.  If you think back on all the altercations the Sox and Yanks have engaged in since 2003, the Red Sox have gotten the better of the Yankees just about every time.  Things like that may or may not translate to the scoreboard.  But then again, things like that are meant to be attitude adjusters and mood managers.  And where John Lackey may pound his drum to a different beat, what he did was still well in-line with the Red Sox over-all modus operandi.  And the Red Sox, it seems, wanted to get an early jump on the October head game.

The book has been out for years on the Yankees; They can be thrown at; and the Red Sox always have.  That's the matter at hand here.  C.C. Sabathia is an island to himself in his willingness to protect his players.  For years, the Yankee pitchers have not done that...and still don't.  It took the Yankees damn near a decade to finally hit David Ortiz with a purposeful pitch.

C.C. pitched out of a lot of trouble last night.  That's a testament to his greatness.  But the Sox pounded ten hits off him and stranded a small island of base runners too.  That leaves the opposing line-up (Bos) salivating for another crack; not mesmerized about what Sabathia threw at them.

So if the Red Sox didn't beat the Yankees last night, they did the next best thing.


new york YANKEES
SP - Phil Hughes
SP - Josh Beckett

New York Yankees:  Hughes Clues.

Phil Hughes is no stranger to this series.  But he didn't make a start the last time these teams met, and the season is growing short.  Meanwhile, the Yankees rotation still has so many questions they need answered.  And so it's Phil Hughes' turn to audition for a spot in the rotation and help the Bombers fill in some of the blanks before the playoffs start.  With the unreliability of A.J. Burnett, it sucks, but Phil Hughes needs to give Joe Girardi a better clue as to who he will be able to rely on (after C.C.) once September is done.

But he's going to have to prove something to his manager tonight while opposing Josh Beckett.  IF, things should get out of hand tonight like they almost did yesterday, we know Josh Beckett wouldn't hesitate plunking a Pinstripe or two.  But will Phil Hughes?

Phil Hughes has two games to contend with tonight; the one against the Red Sox; and the head game that almost always ensues between these two teams right around this time of year.


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