Nothing, but nothing, encapsulates the mercurial reality of Red Sox Nation better than less than 24 hours in the Bronx.
Last night it was deja vu all over again with baserunning blunders turning 5 hits in an inning into one run. After a Varitek rocket off Randy Johnson and a potential rally snuffed out by two runners thrown out at the plate (forget about Jerry Remy's absolution of Dale Sveum), the Yankees answered back with Dr. Longball off Tim Wakefield and Alan Embree to win 6-3. Robinson (Crusoe) Cano took Wake into the bleachers in right, and then Sheffield launched an Embree toss into the stratosphere for a three-run blast. The Space Shuttle received an 'incoming' alert on the 'juice guy's' shot.
After last night's follies, Red Sox fans everywhere sought shelter in cheap beer and straight jackets, in preparation for today's action.
Predictably unpredictable, the Sox came out swinging, bashing out 27 hits, including at least two for everyone in the starting lineup. Edgar Renteria had a grand slam and raised his average to .281, Trot Nixon and Jay Payton had dingers, and Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon had 4 hits apiece. Damon had 7 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Matt Clement (6-0, 3.06) allowed 5 hits and had 7 strikeouts in 6 innings, regularly escaping trouble while blanking the Yankees.
Kelly Shoppach got his first major league appearance (I think), a hit by pitch.
The Sox are 4 1/2 games out, tied for third, 1/2 game behind the Yankees. In the wild card race, the Sox are 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota and 2 games behind the West leaders. Let's face the music gang, a playoff appearance in 2005 will likely require an AL East title, as unusual improvement by the Orioles and the Jays have altered the competitive landscape.
The 'Moneyball'strategy that earned Billy Beane his reputation has been adopted wholeheartedly by the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Dodgers, and ironically, the copycats have outperformed the original. Not surprising for the Sox and Dodgers, working with far more capital. The A's, beset by injuries, and the losses of Beane's trades of Hudson and Mulder, now have the second worst record in the AL, are last in runs scored and last in OPS (.660), and 11th in pitching, just ahead of your Boston Red Sox.
Minor doings. Hanley Ramirez (.304//.360/.452) had three hits last night in a lost to Norwich. Ramirez also has 12 steals in 37 games. He is second on the Sea Dogs in hitting to Dustin Pedroia (.327/.402/.510) who has 5 homers. Meanwhile, Jose Vaquedano lowered his ERA to 2.36 in the pitching-rich Carolina League (High A), as Wilmington lost 1-0.