Thoughts on Friday Night’s Yankees-Sox Game (4/11 Roundup)

I only caught one game in full on Friday night, and it was the first meeting of the season between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. For lack of anything better to write about, I’ll just throw out my thoughts on the Bronx Bombers’ 4-1 win.

First of all, as far as Yankees-Red Sox games go, this one was pretty much a stinker. I’m not looking to take anything away from Chien-Ming Wang’s performance tonight, because the dude was dealing for most of the game (namely every inning besides the fifth). But Boston helped him out too by going after him early in the count. I have to imagine that it was in the scouting report to jump on Wang early (yikes), but one would think that the team would try to make some adjustments to that strategy after failing to put anything resembling a strong offensive effort together at any point in the early innings.

It’s ridiculous that Wang only had to throw 93 pitches to record 27 outs against the Red Sox. I’m not the biggest fan of (…wow, almost walked right into that one. How shall I put this?…) the Korean right-hander. I tend to think he’s a little overrated by the Yankee fanbase and upper management (Brian Cashman is fond of comparing him to Brandon Webb), and that much of his game relies on luck. Still, a sinkerballer who eats as many innings as Wang does is a huge asset to have over the course of the season. There isn’t a team in the Major Leagues that wouldn’t happily take 200 innings of an ERA under 4, even if much of that success is reliant upon infield defense. (That reminds me, I loved Joe Girardi’s decision to plug defensive specialist Alberto Gonzalez in at shortstop behind Wang in place of the injured Jeter.)

Interestingly, of the 24 outs Wang recorded by getting Red Sox hitters to put the ball in play, 14 came on fly balls. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. Wang consistently finds himself near the top of the league in ground ball percentage thanks to his turbo sinker. It’s possible that this, too, may have been in the scouting report for Boston. Of course, I may also just be overthinking this. It’s entirely possible the Sox were just overmatched. That certainly looked to be the case with Big Papi, who was downright painful to watch.

(For the record, and I’m going to keep myself from going off on a tangent here, it’s my belief that the best way to beat pitchers like Wang, Webb or Carmona is to stack a lineup with as many speed guys as possible, even if it’s at the expense of guys with better on-base percentages. Within reason, of course. [I remember being frustrated that the Mets, who were well equipped to execute this strategy last year with Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Luis Castillo all on the roster, went with their standard lineup and lost to Wang on a Sunday night game last season.] Maybe I’ll try doing a study on this scenario the road and see if I’m wrong. If nothing else, it piques my interest.)

Getting back to my original point, the game was close early on, but for me, it never really seemed all that exciting. The Fenway crowd was pretty dead, almost from the first pitch, and there just wasn’t a lot of energy displayed by anyone throughout the game. It was very weird for the first game of the year between “the greatest rivals in sports.”

One other thing I’ll throw out there is how great Coco Crisp’s defense in center field is. He was putting on a clinic tonight. Unfortunately, that was one of the only bright spots for the Sox.

Friday Night Box Scores:
Oakland Athletics 9, Cleveland Indians 7

  • Oakland has C.C. Sabathia’s number. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner was shelled, allowing nine runs in 3 1/3 innings as he lost his second straight game to the A’s. He fell to 2-7 lifetime against Oakland, and saw his earned-run average against the team skyrocket to 6.84.

Philadelphia Phillies 5, Chicago Cubs 3

  • Chicago’s onslaught of solo homers was no match for the one-man wrecking crew that was Pat Burrell.

New York Yankees 4, Boston Red Sox 1

Pittsburgh Pirates 1, Cincinnati Reds 0

  • A one-act play entitled “The Jason Bay Show.” Also featured: Paul Maholm, Matt Capps

Tampa Bay Rays 10, Baltimore Orioles 5

New York Mets 4, Milwaukee Brewers 2

  • The battery of Nelson Figueroa and Raul Casanova was too much for the Milwaukee Brewers to handle. Welcome to the NL Central.
  • Jose Reyes is expected to miss Saturday’s game after leaving with hamstring tightness.
  • With all the attention paid to Prince Fielder’s new no steak policy, it appears we all missed his decision to refrain from taters as well. (Hey, it’s late. Shut up.)

Atlanta Braves 3, Washington Nationals 0

  • The Sidewinding Aussie — a Merrill Park Superstar favorite — picked up his first save of the season in Atlanta’s shutout win.

Florida Marlins 10, Houston Astros 6

  • Florida’s magic number is down to 152 after the Marlins pounded the bejesus out of Roy Oswalt.

Toronto Blue Jays 8, Texas Rangers 5

  • Top 6th: Toronto – G. Zaun stole home, B. Coats stole second
  • Top 6th: Toronto – G. Zaun stole home, B. Coats stole second

Minnesota Twins 5, Kansas City Royals 0

Detroit Tigers 5, Chicago White Sox 2

  • Dontrelle Willis built upon his abysmal Tigers debut by walking two guys, throwing a wild pitch and departing with a leg injury. Welcome to motherfuckin’ Detroit, god damn it.
  • Aquilino Lopez, Jason Grilli, Denny Bautista and Todd Jones combined on a four-hitter after D-Train exited to help the Tigers steal the win.

Arizona Diamondbacks 8, Colorado Rockies 2

Seattle Mariners 8, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 5

  • Raul Ibanez’s career numbers against Jered Weaver coming into Friday night’s game: 10/19, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
  • Raul Ibanez’s career numbers against Jered Weaver after Friday night’s game: 12/21, 2 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K

St. Louis Cardinals 8, San Francisco Giants 2

  • The St. Louis Cardinals have the second-best record in the Big Leagues.

San Diego Padres 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 5

  • Trevor Hoffman’s evolution into Joe Borowski is not yet complete, as he was only able to surrender one run in the ninth inning.
  • San Diego’s domination over Brad Penny continued. The Dodgers ace hasn’t picked up a win over the Padres since he beat current Dodger Chan Ho Park (who pitched the ninth inning for L.A.) on September 11, 2005.

Atlanta Braves over Washington Nationals
Detroit Tigers over Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers over New York Mets
Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks over Colorado Rockies
St. Louis Cardinals over San Francisco Giants
Houston Astros over Florida Marlins
Chicago Cubs over Philadelphia Phillies
Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians over Oakland Athletics
Baltimore Orioles over Tampa Bay Rays
Kansas City Royals over Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays over Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers over San Diego Padres

Merrill Park Superstar vs. the NL Central:
St. Louis Cardinals (8-3) .727
Milwaukee Brewers (6-4) .600
Chicago Cubs (6-4) .600
Cincinnati Reds (6-5) .545
Merrill Park Superstar (79-76, 7-8 Friday) .510
Pittsburgh Pirates (4-6) .400
Houston Astros (3-8) .273


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