Sorry for the tardiness. Got home at 3:30 this morning, and I'm not a machine, for goodness' sake.
Yup, it turned out to be quite an ugly night for the Yankees. Look, the Red Sox are a really, really good team. We thought they were the favorites to win the AL East, back at the outset of the season, and they overcame their bad start, as expected, to assert that.
Fans never want to hear this, especially given the Yankees' massive payroll, but the Yankees don't have to worry about the Red Sox as much as they have to worry about the rest of the league. At least, until the playoff rules change next year.
As of now, the Yankees are your AL wild-card leaders, up by percentage points (and a game in the loss column) on Detroit and by a game (two games in the loss column) on Tampa Bay. The Yankees are in the best position, when you account for both payroll flexibility and trading chips, to make a deadline deal.
We'll see how the Yankees respond this weekend, with a weakened Cleveland team showing up at Yankee Stadium. At the moment, however, I think it's way too early to panic.
--As for the actual game last night: I wrote about David Ortiz, and how he blamed the media for finally getting hit by a Yankees pitcher. For the first time, amazingly, since he joined the Red Sox in 2003.
Look, did the media behave in exemplary fashion the last few days? Not really. We reveled in conflict. That's what we do.
But the conflict existed. We didn't fabricate it. Jon Lester hit Mark Teixeira, and Hector Noesi buzzed Ortiz, and Ortiz homered, and Ortiz flipped his bat, and Joe Girardi said something, and Terry Francona laughed at what Girardi said, and Ortiz homered again, and he rested his bat politely, and Josh Beckett hit Derek Jeter, and Beckett his Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia hit Ortiz, and the Yankee Stadium crowd went nuts, and Ortiz did some variation of "The Claw" after his seventh-inning double.
Whew! Action-packed three days, indeed!
After Beckett drilled both Jeter and A-Rod, I think that yes, it was necessary for Sabathia to respond. It's the baseball code. Sabathia executed perfectly, drilling Ortiz in the lower half in the fourth inning.
Sabathia got out of the fourth. If you want to argue that he expended pitches and energy to get out of that first-and-second, one-out jam, and that cost him in the seventh, I'll say OK. It was a worthwhile trade-off, in the bigger picture.
--Here's my pre-game column on Joba Chamberlain, and how the Yankees will replace him.
--Have a great day.