Sox provide a stinker
The Yankees can all but bury the Red Sox with a sweep, which they can do with a win on Thursday.
The Big Advantage: The Yankees wrecked the Red Sox in the first game Tuesday, and then took advantage of some shoddy Boston defense in the second game Wednesday to extend their lead in the AL East to 7½ games.
The Big Nothing: Jon Lieber started the second game of the three-game series for the Yankees Wednesday and his pitches were lifeless for most of the game. But he got the Red Sox to hit into a couple of double plays in the early innings, got some long outs, and worked into the seventh inning in New York's 4-2 victory. The Red Sox are 7½ games out of first place now, and unless they can beat rookie Brad Halsey Thursday, they will get swept.
The Big Bumbles: The pathetic Red Sox defense was terrible again. David Ortiz made a two-run error in the bottom of the seventh inning when a ground ball slammed its way through the webbing of his glove. Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra -- him again -- made another error as well, this one coming in the eighth inning. Kenny Lofton, who reached on Garciaparra's throwing error, came around to score the eventual game-winning run on a double by Gary Sheffield.
The Big Disappointment: Garciaparra, who was expected to give the Red Sox a boost when he was activated from the disabled list back on June 10, continues to look awful offensively and defensively. At some point, Boston might have to consider the unthinkable: dump Nomar during this season in a trade.
The Big Margin For Error: Halsey pitches against Pedro Martinez in what would seem to be a lopsided mismatch, but Halsey is composed and should work with peace of mind now that the Yankees have won the first two games of the series.
The Big Comeback: Tim Wakefield pitched into the seventh inning Wednesday, the Boston knuckleballer working well in his first Yankee Stadium outing since surrendering Aaron Boone's historic homer in Game 7 of last year's ALCS.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," will be released later this summer, and can be pre-ordered through HarperCollins.com.
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