I bought two tickets to Yankees-Red Sox at Fenway Park for May 1 and May 2, 2006. It was the first two times those team would meet that season and it was Johnny Damon’s debut in Boston as a Yankee.
The first game of the series was a disaster. The Yankees led 3-1 before the Red Sox tied the game at 3 in the fifth. Then in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox took a 4-3 lead and with one out and two on, David Ortiz hit a three-run shot off new Yankee Mike Myers, who the Yankees had signed in the offseason for the sole purpose of getting Ortiz out.
The second game of the two-game series was postponed due to rain. It was made up in August as part of what would become a five-game sweep by the Yankees over the Red Sox that would permanently end the Red Sox’ season. By the time that game happened in August, I was home for the summer in college and unable to attend, so I sold the tickets and missed out on being at Fenway during something positive since I have pretty much only seen horrible Yankees losses there.
That five-game series was the last time the Yankees swept a series of at least three games in Boston and I had tickets to it and I missed it. But that changed this weekend.
I decided to go to the diary format that I used for a Yankees-Red Sox series in April for this past weekend. Just pretend like you’re reading this in one of those black-and-white Mead composition notebooks.
I will never agree with Joe Girardi’s lineup decisions and days off for the everyday players, but now in his eighth season as manager, it’s something I’m just going to have to get used to and accept. He’s not going to change his ways, so I need to change my ways. But after seeing A-Rod’s 500th and 600th home runs in person and after being at the Stadium on Thursday only to see him go 0-for-6, I wanted to see him hit it over the weekend at Fenway. Girardi deciding to not start him in Friday night’s game didn’t help my chances.
When A-Rod’s 660th career home run, a pinch-hit home run on a 3-0 count in a tied game in Boston, cleared the Green Monster, I was ecstatic. I didn’t care about his PED past or his off-the-field issues or any negative storyline linked to him since becoming a Yankee in February 2004. All I cared about was that the Yankees had just taken an eighth-inning lead over the Red Sox in Boston with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller waiting in the bullpen and that I had seen history.
PEDs or steroids or whatever or not, A-Rod is the fifth person in the history of everyone to ever play baseball to hit 660 home runs. It was the perfect moment in the perfect situation in the perfect setting for A-Rod to tie Willie Mays on the all-time home run list and after seeing No. 500 on Aug. 4, 2007 and No. 600 on Aug. 4, 2010, I got to see him hit No. 600 on May 1, 2015 at Fenway Park.
Where would the Yankees be without Chris Young and with only Carlos Beltran? Not in first place, that’s for sure, and who knows how far down in the standings? Young’s home run let me breathe a sigh of relief on Saturday afternoon, but the Yankees were only in that spot thanks to an impressive start from Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi went 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs in what was considered to be a big test against the Red Sox’ lineup in Boston. He needed 111 pitches to get there and allowed seven hits, which isn’t exactly what you want to see in hopes of progress from the hard-throwing righty, but the result was a win for the Yankees.
Most importantly, Eovaldi left just one out to get before the eighth inning and once you get to the eighth inning against the 2015 Yankees, the game is over. However, Girardi decided he was going to give Andrew Miller the day off and that meant a temporary bridge to Dellin Betances would need to be built. One out from Chris Martin and two outs from Justin Wilson ended up being that bridge and then in came Betances for a four-out save.
I told my friend with me at the game that I would bet him Betances would strike out everyone he faced and set the line at +700. I wish he had taken the bet because I could have won the money I eventually lost on the Kentucky Derby.
Mike Napoli: strikeout on four pitches.
Brock Holt: strikeout on three pitches.
Xander Bogaerts: strikeout on four pitches.
Blake Swihart: strikeout on three pitches.
Another seven-inning game for the Yankees. Not the patented Betances-Miller seven-inning game, but with this bullpen this season, it doesn’t always have to be just them.
If Nathan Eovaldi is Phil Hughes 2.0 then Adam Warren is actually Phil Hughes. Not only because he also lacks a true strikeout pitch and gets himself in deep counts and pitch count trouble, but because he actually looks like Phil Hughes. If you put number 65 on Warren’s jersey and watched his delivery, his release point and even how he rubs the ball after getting a new one, he’s Phil Hughes. The difference between Eovaldi and Warren is that you know what you’re going to get with Warren. He’s going to struggle to pitch six innings and give up somewhere between two and four earned runs. It’s who he is at this point of his career as a starter and it’s who he might always be.
Hanley Ramirez is not the smartest person. I’m not sure why Ramirez would think that Warren would be throwing at him in a blowout, but a lot of players in the majors aren’t the most sane people and Ramirez is one of them. Ramirez looked ridiculous getting upset over getting hit in the butt or side thigh by Warren, given the score and situation, and the fact that Ramirez had done absolutely nothing over the weekend against the Yankees. This wasn’t the Yankees hitting Manny Ramirez 10 years ago or the Yankees avenging a hit by pitch of their own, it was just Hanley Ramirez trying to be a tough guy and looking like an absolute idiot on national TV.
I have seen a lot of bad things happen in Fenway that I know that no lead is safe and when the game was 8-0, it wasn’t over. When it was 8-2, I started to worry. I was probably a 4 out of 10 on the Worry Scale. When Joe Girardi decided to bring in Esmil Rogers, who is 29 years old and has a career 5.42 ERA, to get Mike Napoli out, I was a 6. When he hit the every-Yankees-fan-saw-this-coming home run, I was an 8. When Chase Headley made an awful ninth-inning error to extend the game and bring David Ortiz up with the bases loaded and two outs against Andrew Miller on a night when the closer didn’t have his best stuff, I was a 10. And when Ortiz made solid contact against Miller and drove the final out of the game at Ellsbury, I’m pretty I had a minor heart attack.
I might have missed out on the legendary five-game sweep in 2006, but being at Fenway this weekend for the latest Yankees’ sweep in Boston was also good. So good, so good, so good.