- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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The following is a transcript of Buster Olney's in-game analysis from Yankees-Red Sox Game 2 during SportsNation's The Show, which will be every night for postseason games. Click here for more details.
Hey, folks, checking in from Fenway Park; can't wait, after 48 hours off in this series. Couple of things to watch for early in the game -- Brown is a different kind of pitcher than Mussina or Lieber, who pitched precisely against the Red Sox in Games 1 and 2. Brown tends to throw hard-harder-hardest, and I wonder if he'll be able to exploit the weaknesses of the Red Sox hitters in the same way -- down and in to Damon, inside to Ramirez, down and away to Kevin Millar. Watch his velocity early, too; if he's 90-91, he could be vulnerable. In the past, Brown was 94-95 mph, along with that nasty movement. Before the game tonight, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he had no idea what to expect out of Brown tonight. And as for Bronson Arroyo -- scouts say that a disciplined team, like the Yankees, should really lay off his off-speed stuff and force him to throw the ball over the plate, something he sometimes has problems doing. Should be an interesting matchup ...
Top: A scout I talked to today said that among all the great hitters, A-Rod guesses the most -- guesses the type of pitch, and the location, and in his at-bat, it was clear he was sitting breaking ball, on 2-0 and then on 3-2. Yankees up a run, Arroyo's already thrown 13 pitches after two batters. I am shocked they pitched to Matsui. The guy is killing them, they've got a righty to lefty matchup, Bernie on deck and a double-play possibility. Matsui is the hottest guy the Yankees have right now; absolutely nuts. ... The toll on Arroyo -- three runs, 31 pitches, 10 foul balls, just two batters swinging and missing, three throws to first.
Bottom: Right out of the gate, Brown had good movement on his sinker, running it back over the inside corner to get strike 2 on Bellhorn, getting that groundout from Damon. Above all else, Brown was not overthrowing with the first three hitters, with his delivery spinning quickly, his arm dragging and his fastball missing badly.
The inning ended with Manny getting thrown out at third, an incredibly dumb play for multiple reasons. A) The Red Sox are down three runs. B) It was the third out of the inning, with Jason Varitek coming to bat. C) Gary Sheffield has a good arm. Just when it looked like they were starting to put pressure on Brown -- wow, what a stupid play.
Top: A big inning for Arroyo, to shut out the Yankees after Ramirez's baserunning blunder. If the Yankees had scored there, it would have had the effect of a dagger. Pitch count is going to be a problem for Arroyo, however, especially with the Boston bullpen short-handed: He's thrown 44 pitches in two innings, and remember, Francona took him out after only 87 during the Division Series.
Bottom: Once Manny got on first in the first inning, Brown seemed to lose his mechanics a bit, and his command. It'll be interesting to see how he does with Varitek on first base now ... Kevin Brown's psyche works this way -- when he doesn't have overpowering stuff, he tends to get frustrated and try to throw harder, and he loses the movement on his fastball. And he doesn't have overpowering stuff, and you can see him trying harder and harder, losing command of his fastball. ... This much we know -- this game will be decided by the bullpens. Tie score, and Brown already has thrown 31 pitches in this inning, 50 in the game. ... Up-to-date tally -- Brown 57 pitches (and clearly a candidate to be replaced very quickly in the third), four Red Sox runs, and one clipped toenail mid-rally. Maybe Damon should do the same thing in the third with another toenail; it must be good luck.
Top: So you are Terry Francona -- how are you looking at managing your staff the rest of the game. Mendoza has already thrown 17 pitches and probably won't get through the fourth inning -- maybe only one or two outs. Then you'd have to look for Leskanic to get you six outs. Call on Embree, if it works out, to face either Matsui or Olerud in the fifth. He gets to the seventh, and then it's Timlin. And if the outcome is still in doubt, Foulke for the last two innings.
And here's the real problem: They've got to play tomorrow night, too.
Bottom: Vazquez is rushing in his delivery -- which is what he's been doing since the All-Star break -- and he's lost his release point, again, throwing the ball from a slot much lower than he normally would ... A crisp three innings. 6-6 score, four pitchers (and many more to come), and we've already seen 168 pitches in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Beautiful. By the way, if anybody is looking for work, please report to the bullpens here in Fenway.
Top: Wakefield is warming up with one out in the fourth, and I just do not get it. Leskanic has retired the only hitter he has faced; at least let him fail before you start warming up guys in the bullpen. This is the second time Wakefield has thrown in the 'pen in this game. Hell, if you're going to bring him in, he should have brought him in to replace Mendoza. ... Sheffield just went deep for a two-run shot and Francona should take some heat for the way he's handled this inning. If he really thought bringing Leskanic into the game was a bad idea -- and apparently he did, because he started warming up Wakefield -- then he should've called on Wakefield earlier in the inning. And now Matsui doubled. What a debacle. ... Francona's mind must be racing. His intentional walk backfired, his team has run into two outs, and his pitching staff is a mess. Francona must be thinking this way for the rest of the series -- if it lasts past tomorrow. Lowe in Game 4, Schilling Game 5, Pedro Game 6, Arroyo Game 7. And now Wakefield probably shifts permanently into the bullpen.
Bottom: The Red Sox have to make something happen with their next six outs, because the way this game is going, Torre almost undoubtedly will go to Gordon to start the seventh, and he will be very willing to get six outs with Rivera, in an attempt to go up 3-0 in this series. What a mess.
Top: The first four hitters in the Yankees' lineup have combined for 11 runs scored and eight extra-base hits.
Bottom: This game has dragged on so long that we're into offseason speculation. (By the way, Olerud was just replaced by Tony Clark). It's considered a fait accompli by GMs around baseball that Beltan will sign with the Yankees in the offseason. The Yanks are the only team which will probably be willing to go into 9 digits to sign him.
Bottom: I wonder if we will see Pokey Reese in Game 4, over Bellhorn, if sinkerballer Derek Lowe does, indeed, start for the Red Sox. I bet Francona sticks with Bellhorn. Maybe Francona would just change for the sake of change, with the fans here starting to get on Bellhorn and Bellhorn not doing anything, anyway...
Top: On the eve of Game 3, the Boston police held a press conference to announce the stringent security they would put in place for this weekend. That's a good thing, the way this game and series is going; there are going to be a whole lot of frustrated Sox fans walking out of this place. Twelve extra-base hits, 17 runs, an ALCS record.
Bottom: If the Yankees finish off the Red Sox in the next two games, i'd guess Joe Torre would go with the same rotation he had in this series. Brown was terrible, undoubtedly, but I don't think Vazquez was so good that he would engender confidence, and Vazquez is a great team guy who would fully embrace any role. I haven't checked on the numbers with Vazquez or Brown against the Astros or Cardinals, but that stuff will probably come into play, as well, given that Brown and Vazquez are refugees from the NL. ...
Anybody else surprised that Francona benched Varitek? I mean, they didn't play Thursday or Friday; why raise the white flag with a move like that at any point, even with a one-sided score? You might do it during the season to rest your catcher, but what would they rest him for? The only way it makes sense is if Varitek has some nagging injury they haven't told us about.
Moving on ...
It's all over with this game folks, so let's expand the conversation ... This is Boston Massacre, Part II. Twenty-two hits and 19 runs in a playoff game qualifies. ... This game has gone on so long it feels like Lonborg started against Stottlemyre. ... I don't think the Yankees have any expectation that Giambi will be a great player again. ... There are a lot of questions about his physical regression that no one will ever know the answers to, except Jason. N.Y. Post wrote the other day that Steinbrenner might try to find some way to void the last four years of his contract, though I doubt that could happen. ... They just announced this is the longest game in postseason history. ...
Folks, my final bit of in-game analysis: This was appalling baseball, if you are a purist, something better if you're a Yankee fan, something nightmarish if you love the Red Sox. But we'll remember it forever. See you tomorrow.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is a New York Times best seller and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.
Buster Olney's Game 3 instant analysis of the Red Sox-Yankees series.