Red Sox show Yankees who's boss

The Red Sox showed a dominant side in pounding the Yankees' pitching in the final two games of their series.

Originally Published: May 29, 2005
By Bob Klapisch | Special to ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Long season, the Yankees whispered on their way out the door, trying to sound convincing after allowing the Red Sox 24 runs and 41 hits in the last two games of a revealing weekend in the Bronx.

This might've fallen short of the apocalypse, given that neither team was playing for first place. But the Yankees are wiser (if not bruised) after losing 2-of-3 and failing to contain David Ortiz, Edgar Renteria and Manny Ramirez.

With six weeks until their next encounter with the Sox, here's the data the Yankees have archived.

• No Yankees starter was able to stop the middle of the Red Sox lineup.

Carl Pavano
AP Photo/Bill KostrounCarl Pavano already has allowed as many home runs this season (16) as he did all of last year.

That includes Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano and Mike Mussina. The Big Unit was the only one of three to emerge with a victory on Friday night, but Mussina said, "looking back, we might've been fortunate to even get that first game."

Renteria was 9-for-12 for the series. Ramirez had seven straight hits at one point, albeit all singles. And Ortiz went 7-for-12, including a 4-for-5 performance in Sunday night's 7-2 win. He hit two massive home runs off Mussina; one into the upper deck in right field, and another into the "black" bleacher seats. Only 18 other players have ever hit a ball that far to center field in the remodeled Yankee Stadium.

Mussina, who'd been 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in May before Sunday's start, lasted just three innings and admitted he had "no weapons at all" in allowing the Sox five runs in three innings.

"Everything that I've been able to do prior to [Sunday], wasn't there for me," Mussina said. "You can't afford to be without weapons against a team like that."

Pavano was just as ineffective in Saturday's 17-1 rout, allowing 11 hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday. After pulling down a four-year, $40 million contract from the Yankees last winter, the right-hander says he's been "very frustrated" at his uneven contributions.

Pavano's 4.18 ERA is higher than the Yankees were hoping for, and even more disturbing was how easily the Sox solved his 89-mph sinker. If there was any lesson from the Yankees' 2004 meltdown, it's that pitchers who melt in front of the Sox don't last long in pinstripes.

• Johnson's fastball is finally growing muscles, but he's still not dominating.

The Big Unit was understandably pleased that he reached 96-mph on the radar gun on Friday -- he was worried that he'd lost his heater -- but the battle isn't over. The left-hander's slider is still flatter than last year's version, and he continues to lack control within the strike zone.

More than that, Johnson was unable to dominate the Sox on Friday, which is precisely why the Yankees traded for him. The Unit insists, "my job is to give my team a chance to win" but he allowed Boston nine hits in six innings, and left the mound trailing, 3-1.

The Yankees eventually rallied to win that game, but Johnson never made the Sox's hitters feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed. The breakthrough, double-digit strikeout game the Bombers expect from Johnson may indeed happen soon, especially if his fastball is getting healthy. But they'll need to see it against the Red Sox.

Derek Jeter is still serving as live target practice.

The shortstop was hit by Matt Clement on Saturday, making it three times he's been plunked by Red Sox pitchers this year. Jeter isn't alone, though: the Yankees have been hit by the Sox 32 times since 2004 and 14 times since the start of the American League Championship Series.

Conversely, the Yankees have retaliated on just five occasions since last October.

Jeter doesn't think he's been deliberately thrown at, but refutes the notion that he invites trouble by leaning over the plate.

"I don't dive, I don't lean over the plate. I just get hit a lot," Jeter said. "It's nothing that I'm doing wrong. If I get hit, it's on the pitcher, not me."

The Yankees don't entirely agree.

"Derek puts himself in a position where he can't get out of the way," said Bernie Williams. "He commits himself too much, and he can't get out."

If I make an error or strike out because I'm being aggressive, I can live with that. But I'm being passive right now, I'm taking a back-step and that's something I'm going have to work to correct.
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees third baseman

Regardless of who's at fault, Jeter's teammates wonder how many more beanings he can endure before he's seriously injured.

"I worry about his hands. I worry about broken bones," said catcher John Flaherty.

Alex Rodriguez may eventually become the permanent cleanup hitter.

Before Sunday's game, the third baseman was leading the majors in homers (17), RBI (49) and runs scored (43), which, coinciding with Hideki Matsui's home run drought that spans 203 plate appearances, accounted for Rodriguez' promotion to the No. 4 spot on Sunday.

Manager Joe Torre insists this was no indictment of Matsui, and he refused to say Rodriguez's responsibilities in the four-hole were any different than as a No. 5 hitter. But there's no question Rodriguez is now occupying the most prestigious spot in the Yankees' lineup and, like it or not, he'll come under greater scrutiny than ever.

The Yankees can only hope the coronation will somehow liberate Rodriguez in the field. He made yet another error Sunday night and would've been charged with two had it not been for the official scorer's reversal on Renteria's grounder in the eighth inning that went off A-Rod's glove.

"If I make an error or strike out because I'm being aggressive, I can live with that," he said. "But I'm being passive right now, I'm taking a back-step and that's something I'm going have to work to correct."

David Wells' demise is temporarily on hold.

The Yankees' plans to overthrow the Sox were based, in part, on the early-season belief that Boomer was history. It sure looked that way before Sunday night, considering he hadn't won since April 20.

But Wells shocked the Yankees by pitching into the ninth inning with an improved fastball. Jeter said, "he was definitely throwing harder than the last time we faced him. He challenged us. You have to respect that. He definitely knows how to pitch."

Wells may have his velocity back, but he's severed his ties with Yankees fans who booed him thickly as he walked off the mound after being taken out with one out in the ninth inning. The left-hander told Newsday last week, "Do I feel love for them? No. Cut the cord, man."

Bob Klapisch is a sports columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Bob Klapisch is a sports columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

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