|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The Red Sox began the final series of the season after a 20-minute ceremony on Saturday afternoon honoring Mike Lowell, who is retiring after the season. Lowell has played 13 years in the big leagues, including the last five of his career in Boston. He’s just 36, but is walking away from the game despite the fact that many times inquired about his availability during the season.
In fitting fashion, Lowell doubled, walked, and singled in his three plate final plate appearances of his career. Terry Francona pulled Lowell for pinch runner Lars Anderson so he could walk off the field to a standing ovation, which was a good thing to see.
Despite all the pomp and pageantry, there were still two games to play, and the Yankees had a lot riding on them. The Sox and Yankees split both ends of the day-night doubleheader, with the first pitch coming before 4:30 p.m. and the final pitch coming after 1:00 a.m. Sunday. Over those nine hours, what exactly happened?
Lowell had a standing ovation in his first at bat, and he delivered for the Fenway faithful, knocking home two runs on a double to deep right off an ineffective Andy Pettitte. It nearly was a home run, but not everything works out like Hollywood would write it.
Starting for the injured Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield has had better games. He started off well, tossing scoreless innings through the first two frames, but things quickly fell apart. He allowed three runs in the third after Curtis Granderson tripled home Derek Jeter and scored on an Alex Rodriguez groundout. Robinson Cano hit a solo shot to give the Yanks the lead, 3-2.
Daniel Nava singled home Lowell to tie the game in the third inning, but the Yankees took the lead again in the fifth inning when Mark Teixeira and Cano both doubled home runs. Wakefield’s final line wasn’t pretty: five runs allowed on seven hits and three walks in five innings pitched. Wake struck out five in his final appearance this season.
The Red Sox closed the gap in the seventh inning when hothead Joba Chamberlain tossed a wild pitch, allowing Lars Anderson to scamper home. The Sox then picked up the tying run in the eighth inning when Eric Patterson scored on another wild pitch, with this one from Kerry Wood.
After Daniel Bard threw a scoreless inning in the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon came on in the tenth inning. Paps wasn’t nearly as bad as he has been in September, and unfortunately became the victim of a little bad luck. He walked Brett Gardner to start the inning, and Gardner reached second base on a sacrifice from Ramiro Pena. Jeter then singled, and Gardner scored on an error by Bill Hall, giving the Yankees the lead and making 17-game winner Phil Hughes the pitcher of record. Hughes came on in the bottom of the ninth and retired all three men he faced.
Per the usual, Mariano Rivera came on in the 10th inning and retired all three men he faced for his 33rd save and the 559th of his brilliant career.
Less than an hour after Game 1, the fans were rushed out and the new ones were rushed in as the Red Sox and Yankees go things going again after 9 p.m.
From one frustrating pitcher to another, Daisuke Matsuzaka took the mound in his final start of the season, looking for that elusive 10th win. Dice-K was his usual wild self. He allowed four runs (two earned) on five walks and three hits. Scott Atchison continued the suckyness (spelling?), allowing two more runs in his 1.2 innings of relief.
A.J. Burnett wasn’t that great for the Yankees, but he pitched better than he has recently, as he allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings. He had a bizarre incident with the Yanks leading 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a double, and Josh Reddick hit a sharp grounder to first base. Lance Berkman gobbled it up and tossed to Burnett at first. Reddick was out, or was he? The ump called him safe, and Burnett turned around to argue with the umpire. All the while, Nava ran home and Burnett and Berkman were charged with errors.
The Red Sox managed to tie the game at 6 in the eighth inning when Kevin Cash of all people scored on a bases loaded walk, earning his first RBI of the season. Yes, his first.
Ivan Nova was wild in relief for the Yankees, and took the loss after he allowed a double to Bill Hall and a walkoff single to Eric Patterson.
W: Phil Hughes (18-8)
L: Jonathan Papelbon (5-7)
W: Robert Manuel (1-0)
L: Ivan Nova (1-2)