(David Adamson Photos)
Sox vs. Yanks Already Underway
As a preview to the upcoming Sox-Yankees matchup at Fenway on Monday, Jon Papelbon strapped on the Xbox Live headset and challenged Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth in a virtual match up playing MLB 2K6 on Xbox Live.
Gaming from Cleveland, Papelbon opted against starting Curt Schilling or Josh Becket, handing the ball to knuckleball specialist, Tim Wakefield. Back in New York, Farnsworth went with Randy Johnson.
Farnsworth had the Big Unit's pitches working early, breezing through the first three batters, which earned a compliment from Papelbon who said, “Man, that splitter is nasty.”
Johnny Don't-Boo-Me Damon led off the bottom of the first with a base hit and with two outs, juice guy Jason Giambi knocked a triple off the wall in right center, scoring Damon.
The Sox got on the board in the top of the second when Manny Still-Slumping Ramirez scored on a wild pitch, but the Yanks broke the tie in the bottom of the inning when Jorge On-Dirt-Dogs-Fantasy-Team Posada hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Hideki Matsui.
Both teams put up zeros in the third, but the Yanks were dealt a huge blow in the top of the fourth when Giambi left the game due to an "abdominal strain" after diving into the stands to catch a foul ball. Possibly rattled by Giambi’s sudden injury, Farnsworth unleashed a 98-mile-per-hour heater with cyber Randy, almost taking off David Ortiz’s head. “That got me off the plate, but you better not come in again,” said Papelbon who then proceeded to drill a line-drive base hit with Big Papi.
After advancing on a wild pitch and a single by Mike Lowell, Dirt Dog Trot Nixon stepped up to the plate with runners at first and third with two outs. Trot pounded a Johnson changeup into the right field corner, scoring Ortiz easily. Playing the ball off the wall, Gary "Chris House Is Back at Fenway" Sheffield threw a strike to virtual Yankees 2B Robinson Cano as Lowell rounded third attempting to score. Cano got the ball out of his glove quickly, firing a bullet to Jorge Posada who applied a quick tag on Lowell for the out, ending the top half of the fourth inning with the teams tied 2-2.
Shutting each other out in the fifth and sixth innings, Farnsworth came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning on a mission. “Get a pitch up in the zone, come on Bernie,” Farnsworth shouted as the Yankees DH, Bernie Williams, took to the plate. After belting a solid single off Wake, Papelbon decided to make a pitching change and brought in Iron Mike Timlin who proceeded sit the next three Yankee batters down in order.
With the score remaining tied at two heading into the top of the ninth, Farnsworth made an interesting move –- passing over himself to bring in Worcester's Own Tanyon Sturtze. Sturtze made the biggest mistake of the game on his very first pitch, leaving a belt high fastball over the plate to Manny Ramirez who crushed it 500 feet, landing in the back row of the bleachers in right center. Adding insult to injury, Jason Varitek nailed the very next pitch over the wall in center, putting the Red Sox ahead 4-2.
Up by two runs heading into the bottom of the ninth, Papelbon brought in himself to shut the door naturally. “I know this guy can bring it,” Papelbon said of himself jokingly. After retiring the Yankees 1-2-3 in the ninth for the Red Sox win, Papelbon proclaimed that the Yankees should expect the same outcome when they hit the field for real on Monday night. (Information courtesy of Alan Taylor Communications)
Schill's Read on Roger
“ 'I find the whole thing about him coming back to Boston almost a comedy in and of itself. That there are people in Boston who would hate this guy and not know this guy has never cheated anybody in his life or not know how hurt he was the last two years he was here, how much crap he had to pitch through.
“ 'And then, for a guy like (former Sox general manager) Dan Duquette to call him out and say he’s on the back end of his career. That was the biggest middle finger ever given to a player from the front office. You know, I laugh at (stuff) like that.' ” -- 2.28.06, Curt Schilling to Steve Buckley, Boston Herald (subscription only)