Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wild Game 2

The reality show "Survivor" tells its players to "Outwit, Outplay and Outlast" their competition.
It's hard to say that the Yankees outwitted or outplayed the Red Sox on Friday night, but one thing is for certain: they outlasted their rivals in the longest nine-inning game ever played in the Majors.

The Yankees used a seven-run seventh inning to overcome a three-run deficit, earning a sweep of the doubleheader with a 14-11 victory. New York won the first game, 12-4.

"This is a team right now that just refuses to roll over," Joe Torre said. "What a terrific comeback."

The game, which clocked in at four hours and 45 minutes, set the Major League record for the longest nine-inning game in history. While not considered an official doubleheader, the day-night twin bill lasted a combined 8:40, which would have shattered the previous record of 7:39 for the longest 18-inning doubleheader ever.

"It makes a manager feel good when you sense they're going to fight all the way to the end," Torre said. "We kept looking up and it kept being the fourth inning. It was nuts."

"I feel like somebody just kicked my [butt]," David Ortiz said. "Actually, somebody did. That was ... unbelievable."

The Yankees' sweep extended their lead over the Red Sox to 3 1/2 games in the American League East. The two teams play three more times over the next three days, but the Yankees will leave Boston with a lead no matter what happens in those games.

"It's better than losing two, but we still have three more games," Derek Jeter said. "We have to take it one game at a time. I think we've been playing pretty well. We didn't pitch as well as we'd like the second game, but hopefully tomorrow we can keep it rolling."

Boston scored a run in the first, but the Yankees answered with five runs against Jon Lester in the second, making the rookie left-hander throw 41 pitches in the process.

Sidney Ponson gave the runs right back, as the Red Sox countered with three in the bottom of the second. Boston tied the game with a run in the third, as both starting pitchers saw their pitch counts skyrocket after just three frames.

Johnny Damon, who homered and drove in four runs in the first game, poked a two-run homer around the Pesky Pole in the fourth, giving the Yanks a 7-5 lead. Lester left after 3 2/3 innings and 95 pitches, charged with all seven runs on eight hits and three walks.

Once again, Ponson couldn't hold the momentum, loading the bases with three singles, ending his night after three-plus innings.

"He got ahead in some counts and was just too fat in the strike zone," Torre said. "He has good stuff, and when he keeps the ball down, he can be effective. He couldn't keep the ball out of the middle of the plate."

Ron Villone came in to clean up the bases-loaded, no-out mess, retiring three of the next four hitters while allowing two of the three baserunners to score. The game was tied at 7 after four innings.

Julian Tavarez, who relieved Lester in the fourth, posted a zero in the fifth despite allowing a double and walking a batter. Tavarez threw a perfect sixth, the first 1-2-3 inning of the game.

That gave the Sox an opportunity to take a lead, which they promptly did with three runs in the fifth against Villone, who combined with Brian Bruney to throw 47 pitches to get through the inning.

During a pitching change in the bottom of the sixth, Jeter told Torre that this game was far from over.

"Jeter always looks for the sun to shine," Torre said. "He came over and said, 'I think it's going to take 14 runs tonight.' And there it was. There's no quit in these guys."

Said Jeter: "A lucky guess, I guess."

With a three-run lead heading into the seventh, Boston turned to Craig Hansen, who has been one of its regular late-inning relievers. After getting the first out, Hansen loaded the bases with a walk to pinch-hitter Jason Giambi and singles by Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, also a pinch-hitter.

"Pinch-hitting Jason and Jorge down by three runs, the last thing I wanted to do was put Jorge in the game," Torre said. "But if you get an opportunity to win a game, you do what you can, because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring."

The Sox called on Mike Timlin to put out the fire, but he was unable to do so. Melky Cabrera singled in a run after a gritty nine-pitch at-bat, cutting the lead to 10-8.

"He's got a lot of confidence in himself," Torre said. "He's like a kid playing in the street."

Damon flied out to shallow left for the second out, but Jeter, who was 3-for-20 lifetime against Timlin, followed with an eight-pitch at-bat, doubling to right field to clear the bases and give the Yanks an 11-10 lead.

"I haven't had much success against Timlin," Jeter said. "He's as tough on me as anyone, so it got to a good count and I had a good pitch to hit."

Alex Rodriguez added an RBI double and Robinson Cano tacked on a two-run single, boosting the lead to 14-10 after the seven-run inning.

Mike Myers (1-0), who got one out in the sixth and another in the seventh, picked up the victory.

Kyle Farnsworth came in to start the seventh, but he took a Wily Mo Pena line drive off his lower right leg, forcing him to leave the game with a contusion. X-rays were negative, and Farnsworth was listed by the team as day-to-day.

"It got all muscle," Farnsworth said. "It's going to be a nice bruise. It didn't hurt until after I made the play and started walking around. Then it started to swell."

"He's going to be missing for a few days," said Torre, who didn't think Farnsworth would land on the DL. "The X-rays are all negative, which is good news. But we'll have to see if there's swelling."

Scott Proctor got the final out of the inning, then pitched a scoreless eighth. Mariano Rivera allowed a solo homer to Ortiz in the ninth, but was able to close out the game.

"We had to use everybody at all different times out of our bullpen today," Myers said. "Bruney stuck it to them, Villone sucked it up, Proctor had to come in again; I'll remember today as a long day, but everybody contributed to two wins. It's a great start to a long road trip."

"To win two was a bonus for us," Torre said. "Now we have Randy [Johnson] and [Mike Mussina] going for us in the next two games. Certainly our confidence is sky-high; we'll be a little exhausted, but so will they."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 3:33 AM


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