Saturday, September 10, 2005
If you look at the scores of these two games, coming to the conclusion that these two teams are exactly the same might seem impossible. However, that's exactly what I think. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are the same team. Alot of great hitters combined with alot of mediocre pitchers. When the two teams meet, the team that screws up less and rises to the occasion more, will win. The fact that in the past 3 seasons, the Red Sox are winning the series between the two by one game speaks volumes to the similarity of these teams.
Friday was the Red Sox turn to play like crap. Saturday, the Yankees gave it a shot. They couldn't get outs, they played terrible defense, and they couldn't hit. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Curt Schilling really, pitched well, and capitalized on Yankee mistakes. The end result was a 9-2 victory.
Boston College beat Army 44-7 on Chestnut Hill. After this win and beating BYU. The cupcakes on the schedule are no more though. BC hosts #11 Florida State, who beat Miami last week (we haven't beaten Miami since Flutie did it in '84), next Saturday in their first ever ACC conference game. Then they're on the road at #25 Clemson. BC has a total of 4 ranked teams on their schedule right now. Thankfully though, only two are on the road.
Wakefield faces Randy Johnson tomorrow afternoon at The Stadium. If we win this game, we'll have a 5 game lead with 21 games left and 3 head-to-head games left with the Yankees. Five games is somewhat comfortable, 3 isn't.
I'm gonna start with the Patriots game so my aggravation over the 8-4 loss to the Yankees can subside just a little bit.
The Patriots began their title fourth title defense and the third in a row by playing like the worst team in the league. The Raiders moved the ball with an ease I haven't seen anyone move it against us in years. Seven plays, 72 yards, just over 3 minutes. Two medium yardage plays followed by a pair of 29 and a 28 yard passes. Then the Raiders got in with a short pass.
The Patriots responded with a slightly unimpressive 60 yard, field goal scoring drive. Most of the plays were relative failures but a few big plays on 3rd downs (specifically to Ben Watson) kept the ball moving into field goal range. Halfway through the 1st quarter, and the Champions were down 7-3.
At this point, the Raiders appeared to be the better team on the field. However, their reign as rulers of Gillette Stadium was over after this drive. The defense came out and stopped them. Oakland would eventually regain the lead after the Patriots went up 10-7, but they never looked as impressive as they did in the first eighth of the game.
After trying a deep passing and up the middle strategy on their first drive, the Patriots went with more plays like the passes to Watson. Mid-ranged pass plays to receivers in the open field. They combined this with misdirection plays, play action, and some clever screens. The Raiders defense lacked the patience and discipline to survive the misdirection plays, and their coverage was laughable. Furthermore, they rarely pressured Brady giving him all day to look for weaknesses in their coverage zone.
Starting on their own 32, Brady hit Branch for 29, crossing into Oakland territory. Brady then went to good ole Troy Brown for 20 more yards. After a false start, Brady hit Branch for 10 yards to the Oakland 10. The Pats went back to the run game but it resulted in a loss. Brady, out of the gun, hit Branch for an 18 yard Touchdown. 10-7 with 2:05 left in the 1st.
Lamont Jordan drove down the field in response with 10 other Raiders on his back. Oakland got to the Pats' 25 yard line, tried a Field Goal, and missed it. The Pats sputtered and moved the ball only 7 yards on their next drive. The Raiders had the ball on their 27. Collins threw a homerun ball to Moss, being covered one-on-one by Poole with Harrison giving support way up top. Unfortunately, Poole got too aggressive and tried to make the big play at the wrong time. This resulted in a big play for Oakland. A 73 yard TD pass giving them a 14-10 lead.
The Patriots offense returned to its impressive form. Dillon ran twice, one for 8, the other for a loss of 2. On 3rd and 4, in typical Tom Brady fashion, Givens got a 5 yard pass for a 1st down. Once the Pats got rolling on a drive, they were close to unstoppable. The Raiders were penalized for an illegal substitution. On 1st and 5 from just across midfield, Givens caught a 26 yard pass. Brady then hit Graham for 17 more yards. At the 5, Brady threw an incompletion, and then threw to Tim Dwight for the first time for 5 yards and 6 points. The Point After made the score 17-13. The Patriots would not yield the lead again.
The end of the half consisted of three drives that never went anywhere significant. The Raiders were stopped at their 43, the Pats at their 41, then the Raiders at their 22 to end the half.
The Patriots began the second half with a drive that didn't score, but did accomplish alot. The Patriots got to around midfield and then punted. Josh Miller, who has been great in his 20 games as a Patriot, pinned the Raiders at their own 4. The Raiders then went three and out. The Patriots started the next drive on their 40. Even though they only advanced the ball 7 yards, Miller was able to once again pin Oakland at their own 4. The Raiders once again went 3 and out.
The Patriots started at the Oakland 40. They got to the 31, on the edge of field goal range. On 4th and short, they went for it and got stuffed. Even though they gave the Raiders the ball, they didn't give them great field position. Collins was hit while throwing, the ball popped out, and Vince Wilfork had the wherewithall and ability to grab the ball. The Patriots got the ball on the Oakland 20.
Incomplete pass to Branch, 12 yard completion to Branch, 8 yard run by Dillon. Touchdown. After the blocked extra-point, it was 23-14.
The Raiders started at their 11. They compiled 3 yards in 3 plays and punted. The Pats went 3 and out, but took some time off the clock. They probably should have taken more time off and tried better to get a few 1st downs. They were still able to keep the Raiders from getting great field position.
The Raiders started their last drive of the 3rd quarter with a few scary plays. Crockett went around the end for 19. He then got 7 more to bring the ball near mid-field. But there was a flag. Offensive holding. No-one knew it, but this was the dying gasp of the Raiders. They appeared to rebound with a 6 yard completion to Moss. Those yards were taken back by Mike Vrabel when he sacked Kerry Collins. Collins had often been under pressure but had mostly been able to get rid of the ball before being taken down. Actually, he usually grounded it intentionally but wasn't called for it. After an incomplete pass, the Raiders were forced to punt.
The 4th quarter began with the Patriots up 23-14, in posession of the ball, and being in a 2nd and 6 situation on their 30. The Pats were able to take another minute off the clock and move the ball a few yards before punting. The Raiders were able to drive into Patriots territory, but still had to punt.
With 12:03 left in regulation, the Patriots could seal the game with a long drive, or a score. They got a score. The Pats probably would ahve rather gotten the 84 yards on 10 rushing plays taking up 5:00 of game clock. Instead, they got most of their yardage off big plays and only ate up 2:34 of clock. But they scored and made it a two touchdown, two 2 point conversion.
The Raiders drove again, but were stopped again and forced to punt again. The Pats took up about 3 and a half minutes of the clock in a conservative drive then made a major mistake allowing Oakland to block a punt. The Raiders offense had typically been able to begin their drives very nicely only to see them stall as they drove down the field. After the blocked punt, they had a very short field to work with. They moved the ball 21 yards and into the end zone. The 2 point conversion attempt failed with Randy Moss committing an unecesary PI penalty.
Janikowski missed a field goal earlier and he screwed up once again by kicking the onside attempt out of bounds. Dillon was able to rush for a 1st down, the Pats downed the ball a few times, and Game 1 was over.
The Patriots won 30-20, but the game wasn't that close. The Pats held a stellar offense to only 20 points, which was impressive. But the Patriots offense, with guys like Brady, Dillon, Branch, Graham, Brown, et cetera, was only able to put up 30 points against a terrible defense. Seven of these points were on a drive that was only 21 yards long thanks to a turnover forced by the defense.
For most of the game, the Patriots played New England Patriots football. They did the field position thing, exploited the Raiders weaknesses, and capitalized on mistakes. But the Patriots also had a few lapses in concentration. The very first drive of the game was very poor on the part of New England. The 73 yard TD pass to Moss shouldn't have happened if Poole, who was essentially on an island against Moss, had played more conservatively. The blocked punt and the blocked extra point are frighteningly similar incidents. Maybe its just a coincidence or maybe the kinks will be worked out in the long week between now and playing Carolina, but the special teams cannot be allowing blocks. It would screw up our entire strategy of field position and kicking field goal if we can't get into the end zone.
RED SOX CAN'T KNOCK DOWN YANKEES
What's worse than the Yankees beating the Red Sox? Listening to it on Yankee radio with Yankee Information Minister John Sterling. Every time the Yankees hit the ball, whether they hit it fair or foul, soft or hard, on the ground, or in the air, his voice would reach a very excited pitch. The fact that Jeter got more credit for the Matsui-Jeter-Posada throw out of Varitek at home speaks volumes. Granted, it was a quality relay. But Matsui made the initial throw, and Posada was able to hold on despite being knocked on his ass by Tek. And the stupid nicknames Sterling had for every player were sickening. He's the same guy who desecrated the memory of Babe Ruth by calling the steroid popping first baseman Giambino. Pretty soon he'll be calling Mike Mussina the Iron Moose, or maybe the Yankee Dipper (he does that little dip before delivering the ball).
Enough about Sterling. Let's look at how many times the Red Sox F*cked up. That's why we lost this game. We got 11 hits, but scored only 4 runs. We made 4 errors.
The Red Sox got a few "gift" hits to begin the game. They were balls that weren't hit hard but were hit in just the right spot. Sterling went on and on about these hits even in the 8th inning of the game. Anyway, Damon dropped a blooper in front of Lawton. Renteria struck out, followed by Ortiz being fooled on some up and in pitches. Manny hit a 2 out infield single. Nixon was unable to capitalize and hit a foul out.
Jeter and Bernie began the Yankees offensive attack with a pair of groundouts. A-Rod legged out a 2 out double. With a slight shift on, Giambi hit a ground ball into what would normally be a gap. Graffanino was positioned perfectly, but he played too quickly. He didn't take his time to set and throw out Giambi at 1st. Instead, he threw wildly allowing A-Rod to score and Giambi to get to 2nd. The error by Graffanino allowed a run to score, made Wells throw 6 extra pitches, and allowed the Yankees to go through their lineup faster.
The Red Sox appeared to have something going in the 2nd. Varitek hit a broken bat infield single to third. After Millar popped out, Bill Mueller hit a ball squarely into right field. After the basehit, Graffanino hit one to left. It wasn't able to score Varitek because it was hit so hardly, right to Matsui who was able to get it back into the infield very quickly. Damon hit a SAC Fly to score Tek and tie the game. Renteria doubled and a Lawton miscue allowed 2 runs to score on the play. Ortiz wasn't able to continue the rally as he grounded out to short.
The Yankees answered in the bottom of the 2nd with a Posada homerun on an 0-2 pitch followed by three straight groundouts.
The Red Sox appeared to continue their rally. After Manny grounded out, and Trot struck out, Varitek worked a 2 out walk with a very good at-bat. Millar did something productive apart from making T-shirts and hit a double to left. Svuem sent Varitek and thanks to a good throw by Matsui, a good relay by Jeter, and some strength from Posada, Varitek was thrown out. I thought it was somewhat silly to send him considering that you would have 2 in scoring position. Also, throw outs at home are huge momentum changers. It's weird how the Red Sox play such conservative base running, hoping for the big inning, except when it comes to the 90 feet in between third and home. Perhaps this aspect of our strategy should be more consistent with our base running in between the other bases.
The Yankees hit another solo HR in the 3rd, this time by Alex Rodriguez. In the 4th the Red Sox went down in order and with only 6 pitches needed by Small. Previously, Small had been made to work a little bit. But now the Red Sox were going to let him cruise for a bit.
The Yankees claimed the lead with a 2 out RBI single by Jeter into center field. The Red Sox answered in the top of the 5th with 2 pop-outs and a hard line out by Manny. 7 pitches for Small in the 5th. In the bottom of the 5th, Wells was able to hold New York to 0 runs for the first inning all game.
In the 6th, the Red Sox had a bit of a rally but it came to nothing. After Nixon grounded out, and Varitek flew out, Millar was hit by a pitch. Mueller then singled to left. With 2 on and 2 out, Graffanino hit a hard liner, but it was right at Matsui who made the play to end the inning.
The bottom of the 6th was one of the worst innings of baseball you could ever see. Sierra lined out to begin the inning. Posada then hit a relatively hard hit ball down the line towards first. Millar did a good job to stop it, but then he fumbled around with the ball and his throw was unable to eliminate Posada at first. It should have been no-one on with 2 outs. Instead it was 1 on with 1 out. Cano hit a single to center. Posada had to initially stop at 2nd. Then, Damon booted the ball. Posada advanced to 3rd and Cano to 2nd. Then Posada tried to score. He would have been thrown out at the plate if not for a TERRIBLE attempt of throwing made by Renteria. Posada was able to score easily, and Cano moved to 3rd. Instead of 1 on with 2 outs, it was 1 on with 1 out and 1 run in. Wells got Lawton, whose been atrocious with New York, to groundout. He was then pulled for Chad Bradford.
Jeter worked a walk off Bradford. Bernie, hitting from the left, hit a single to score Cano and move Jeter to 3rd. A-Rod hit a single to knock in Jeter and move Bernie to 2nd. Bradford was brought in to pitch to Jeter, Bernie, and A-Rod. He gave up a walk, and two singles to these three guys.
Myers was brought in to face the lefty Giambi. This despite Giambi's 4 for 9 career numbers against Myers. Giambi improved that impressive total to 5 for 10 with an RBI single to center. Myers then got Matsui to hit a deep fly out to finally end the inning.
Poor defense by Millar, Damon, Renteria combined with poor pitching by Wells, Bradford, and Myers, and some good hitting by the Yankes resulted in a 4 run inning that completely altered the dynamics of the game.
The Red Sox were able to create an opportunity for themselves in the 7th and 8th, but weren't able to get more thana run out of it. We lost because we played like crap, plain and simple. If we lose the enxt 2, the race becomes painfully close. It's too close as it is.