Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

August 31, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

When you're in first place by 3½ games, there's no such thing as a must-win, but yesterday's win was important nonetheless. The Red Sox no longer control their own destiny, and even if they win the remaining games they have against the Yankees, they still need help from someone else to make the playoffs. It also puts them in a position where they almost have to win today's game, otherwise facing the alternative of having to sweep the Yankees next weekend in the Bronx, which seems very unlikely.

There were many heroes yesterday afternoon: Jorge Posada had a .475 OPS in 45 PAs against Pedro Martinez entering this season, but so far this season is 3 for 5 with 2 HRs against him, one of them coming today (which proves Voros' Law...on both ends). Nick Johnson was 4/5 with 4 RBI, and his 10-pitch at bat versus Martinez in the fourth inning is required viewing for certain managers who think it's a good idea to pinch-hit for him. Enrique Wilson continued his curious domination Pedro, getting two more singles, the second tying the game at 4. Andy Pettitte struggled in the first inning, giving up 3 runs, but when Pedro proved mortal, he was able to shut the Red Sox down through the 7th inning, only giving up two singles and a home run to David Ortiz.

Really, the Yankees won the game because Pedro was not Pedro. His breaking ball wasn't sharp, his fastball was not fast, and his location was not pinpoint. Perhaps still ailing from last week, Pedro was hittable, and the Yankees hit him. Still, a great relief performance by Bronson Arroyo kept the Red Sox in the game, and after the Yankees apparently broke the game open in the eighth, Jeff Nelson let them right back into the game in the bottom of the eighth.

I have to admit that I may be wrong about Jeff Nelson. I seem to recall him having struggled in late August in his previous Yankee tour, but lately he's been very unreliable. I still think he's a good relief pitcher, and Torre should still bring him into close games, but he should have a much shorter leash with him, especially now that they have Gabe White in the bullpen. If Nelson continues to pitch like he has in his last couple of outings, the Benitez/Nelson trade may turn out to be worse than the Boone trade (because of the draft picks).

But the Yankees came back in the ninth inning and pulled away again when Jorge Posada hit another HR, a 2-run shot off of Byung-Hyun Kim, who like Pedro, has an inexplicable problem against the Yankees, although with Kim, it's his own doing. Rivera--who struggled a bit himself in the eighth--finished the deal in the ninth, and the Yankees had their 4½ game lead back.

And now today is the finale, the final regular season game for Roger Clemens at Fenway Park, where he had so many great moments, where he became the greatest pitcher of his generation, and where he is now vilified for leaving and going to, of all places, the Yankees. Red Sox fans tend to be a bitter bunch, and while Clemens hasn't done anything much to heal his relationship with the Boston fans, they have taken their hatred of him a bit far. Today is probably their last chance to see him, and they will booing him mercilessly. There's a part of me that believes in all sorts of silly notions about class, and that part of me has a silly hope for today's game, that when Clemens is taken from the game by Torre, and walks back into the Yankees' dugout, the Red Sox fans will give him an ovation, and that, no matter what reaction he gets, Clemens will tip his cap. It's a silly, old-fashioned gesture, but it would be nice to see. But I don't expect it to happen.