Friday, August 31, 2007

Yankees Sweep the Red Sox and Take Wild-Card Lead

The Yankees took over the wild-card lead when they finished a sweep of the Boston Red Sox behind a great pitching performance by Chien-Ming Wang and power supplied by Robinson Cano on Thursday.

Wang took a no-hitter deep into the ball game and Cano sent a pair of deep blasts over the left-center field wall to provide the early offense.

Wang’s smooth performance got a big help defensively by the usually clueless Jason Giambi when he made a full extension dive to save an errant throw by Cano to finish off a double-play in the top of the second. Giambi also made a great diving catch in the third which ended the inning.

Cano lead off the bottom of the third with a powerful drive off of Curt Schilling to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. He hit an almost identical shot in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead.

Cano got the sell-out crowd into it, but it wasn’t long until all eyes were on Wang who took a no-hitter into the seventh. After allowing Kevin Youkilis to reach on an error, Wang gave up a single to Mike Lowell which would be the only hit he would allow all afternoon.

With the score still just 2-0 Wang was in his first jam of the afternoon, but a controversial call derailed what might have been a big inning. With two on and nobody out JD Drew hit a ground ball to third baseman Alex Rodriguez who attempted to tag Youkilis out as he ran to third, he missed, then threw to first. Initially Youkilis was ruled safe but after Yankee Manager Joe Torre came out to complain that by dodging the tag Youkilis ran out of the baseline the call was reversed.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona raced on to the field after the Yankees were awarded the double play and was eventually ejected from the game. After some arguments, the game was resumed and Jason Varitek was struck-out to end the inning and Boston failed to score on their best opportunity of the day.

In the bottom of the eight inning reliever Hideki Okajima came on and the Yankees offense came to life. Derek Jeter lead-off the inning with his forth hit of the day and scored from first on Bobby Abreu’s 400th career double to make it 3-0. Following an intentional walk to Arod, he and Abreu attempted a double steal with Hitdeki Matsui at the plate. Varitek threw the ball past third baseman Mike Lowell and into centerfield which allowed Abreu to score. When left fielder Eric Hinski didn’t backup the play, Arod scored all the way from second which then gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

The drama wasn’t over in the top of the ninth however because with one out Joba Chamberlain, who entered the game in the eight inning, was ejected after he threw two wild pitches over the head of Youkilis. The play did not seem like one of retaliation but Joba, who typically has masterful control, threw both pitches eerily in the same spot and then was tossed by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez.

The game was resumed with rookie Edwar Ramirez on the mound who walked Kevin Youkilis on one pitch then got the final two batters out to give the bombers a 5-0 victory and give them a half game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the wild-card lead. Following the game Seattle lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-5 to put the Yanks a full game ahead.

On Friday Major League Baseball suspended Joba for two games and fined him $1,000 for his actions.

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