The Hippo


May 28, 2020








New York gets yanked around at Fenway


Not sure I buy that the race in the AL East is now over as some in these parts were saying on Monday. But sweeping four from the Yanks at Fenway was what I call a productive weekend. It left the locals 9½ up with 49 to play, and if you are a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation you have to like that. 
However, given the tendency of some to go overboard, there’s the danger of runaway overconfidence seeping into the region, a realistic concern considering some in the media were already bringing up the famed Boston Massacre of 1978 in reverse after taking just the first three. At that point my thought was it might actually be weirdly better to lose Game 4 to pump the brakes on that hysteria.
But that was before Aroldis Chapman did what Craig Kimbrel almost did Saturday, as the Sox rallied for a backbreaking extra-inning win. A demoralizing loss for the Yanks to be sure, which, as Tommy Boy would say, is going to leave a mark, making last weekend at Fenway the high point so far in what has been a very enjoyable season to date.  
Here are a few more thoughts on the series as these two teams separate until the season’s final 10 days. 
Before I get all misty-eyed over the Yanks losing Aaron Judge for three weeks, I’ll remind New Yawkas Mookie Betts missed 18 games with a strained lat muscle in June. 
With his tightly compact swing Giancarlo Stanton reminds me of Jim Rice. But the line drives over fly balls that come off his bat are more reminiscent of the vicious shots Dave Winfield hit with his more herky-jerky swing.  
I don’t know about you, and this is based solely on my Leroy Jethro Gibbs gut, but I think Aaron Boone is over his head.
Yankees-Red Sox 101: Rick Porcello pitching a one-hitter and not getting a shutout on Friday because the lone hit was a Miguel Andujar homer was reminiscent of Pedro Martinez’s one-hit, 17-strikeout gem vs. the Yanks in 1999, when the only hit he surrendered was also a homer. Who hit that homer? 
Thanks to Porcello’s olden-days-style 84-pitch complete game, Friday’s game took just two hours and 15 minutes, to make it the quickest Red Sox-Yankees game in 24 years, since a 3-1 New York win in 1994.
On the other side of the moon, Exhibit A in the “baseball needs to be put on a clock debate” would be Sunday night, with well-pitched games by David Price and Masahiro Tanaka that still took over four hours to play the first nine innings. 
Speaking of Price, yack all you want but after Sunday’s solid effort the Sox are now 16-6 in games he’s started.
Seeing three guys — Rafi Devers, Blake Swihart and Ian Kinsler — go to the DL with hamstring strains in three straight games is a first for me. The real shame is that after finally getting an opportunity with the injury to Christian Vazquez the hard-luck Swihart was one of them. 
Sports 101 Answer: The homer hit off Pedro in his 1999 one-hit shutout was by Chili Davis, whose “patience” approach as Red Sox hitting coach was blamed by owner John Henry for last year’s lackluster hitting performance up and down the line-up and was why Alex Cora’s attack from the first pitch philosophy resonated with the brass during his interviews last winter. 
Speaking of last year’s staff, how many games does this group win with John Farrell managing? 
Really liked NESN’s Eck, Rem Dawg and Dave O’Brien three-man booth. Great chemistry, great fun, well-timed insight and a great play-by-play guy. Quite a contrast to the talk-just-to-talk, cliché-ridden masters-of-the-obvious group ESPN sent over on Sunday.  
The top cliché amid a flurry from A-Rod was Jessica Mendoza saying, “No one’s harder on themselves than Xander” after Bogaerts’ Nomar-like choke on a ground ball that let in the lead runs during the Yanks’ seventh-inning rally on Sunday. Really? Who’s in second place on the list of players being hard on themselves after making mistakes? Then, of course, A-Rod made the ridiculous excuse he was distracted by the runner, which wasn’t true. He just missed it. Nice to see Bogie get a little redemption by forcing Andujar to hurry on his throwing error as the Sox tied it in the ninth with hustle down the line.
Disease of the Week goes to new Yankee and F-Cat alum J.A. Happ, who missed Saturday’s start with hand, foot and mouth disease, which I thought only horses got.
Despite the incredible numbers, I still wonder about Kimbrel in huge moments. Though Saturday’s near meltdown showed the down side of winning big, as he wasn’t sharp after being idle for six days. 
There’s something about white guys who shave their head that makes them easier for me not to like. It’s irrational, I know, but first on that list is pesky Yankees lead-off guy Brett Gardner. And if the director saw the look he gave Heath Hembree after those high and tight pitches as he was trying to sacrifice in the seventh inning on Sunday, tell me that Shane Robinson is not going to get called in to read for the part in any movie they make going forward about a deranged serial killer. 
Finally, if I were Cora I’d remind the boys about a few recent and distant baseball collapses like the 2011 Red Sox, the 1969 Cubs and most notably and painfully the 1978 Red Sox. Yes, that’s a long time ago, but there’s a lesson in them. Especially since the ’78 Sox entered August on a similar 111-win pace only to see their entire 14½-game lead fade away. That lesson is that big August leads are blowable, so feel good for one night, then keep the pedal to the metal. 
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