Hey, would you look at that… the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for first at the top of the AL East. It was as simple as that. The Yankees sweep the Tigers and continue to play well against the Orioles. At the same time, the Red Sox are slumping and all of a sudden the Yankees are right back at the top of the East. All we need is one more win and another Red Sox loss and we’ll be the sole leader of the division. It’s great. Well, last night’s victory is much thanks to Hideki Matsui (aka “Godzilla”).
Matsui stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at one. Jim Johnson on the mound, was looking to put the game into extras. But I think Matsui had different ideas. Early in the at bat, Matsui breaks his bat, leaving a small section from the bottom of the bat in Matsui’s right hand. It was a strange looking swing too, I might add. But he got a new bat and stepped back up to the plate. With his new bat, Matsui swung at a fastball middle in and demolished it to the right center bleachers. Right off the bat the crowd at Yankee Stadium erupted as they knew that “Godzilla” had returned. Matsui was regarded as “Godzilla” while in Japan as he hit many long home runs with a ton of power. The only thing about his nickname when he came to the Yankees is that the home run power wasn’t as dominant as it was in Japan. The name “Godzilla” wasn’t used very often but in times like this when he hits a walk off or even just a bomb here and there, “Godzilla” is the name of choice for Yankee fans.
Other than Matsui’s late game jack, defense played a huge part in this game. Mark Teixeira grounded a ball off the bat of Nick Markakis and fielded it a little bit awkwardly. He threw a sort of off balanced throw to Jose Molina at home and Molina, who had the wrong foot blocking home plate, swung his glove around in time to tag out the speedy Maicer Izturis. (Izturiz, who was on first when a hit and run was put on, ran with the pitch and slid into second, not knowing Brian Roberts had hit the ball. He then got up and started a slow walk back to first thinking the ball may be caught. When it wasn’t, he ran over to third but that is as far as he got. He should have scored but his baserunning error cost him and the O’s). Another great play at the plate came from Molina as well as Phil Coke who was on the mound. Now, usually a past ball is not a good thing but this one turned into a good thing. Coke threw one in the dirt and Molina went back to get it as the very speedy Brian Roberts was heading home. He threw to Coke who was covering the plate and Coke tagged out Roberts who never even touched the plate. Two amazing plays at the plate saved the tie for the Yankees and the game went into the ninth. You have to see the video because you can’t really understand how great these plays were. Here’s the link to the video.
So, the Yankees played a great overall game. Offensively, they were a little slow. The only run before Matsui’s homer was on an Eric Hinske homer. Same on the other side of the field. Only a Nick Markakis homer put the O’s on the board. So, other than the home runs, there was pretty much no offense on either side.
Pettitte pitched pretty well. He didn’t get the win though and that’s unfortunate since he deserved the win. The rest of the pitching was good as well. Aceves got the win as he pitched the ninth before Matsui’s homer. Here’s therest of the box score.
P.S. How ’bout that Kevin Millwood. Not only did he pitch great enough to stop the Red Sox, but he made two crazy snags against Dustin Pedroia who hit them right back to the mound. One he caught with his glove, but the second he snagged it with his bare hand. Very impressive.