Early and Often. By the middle of the third inning, Boston led the Yankees 8-0. Damon, Mueller, Nomar and Manny had all batted three times, while the bottom third of New York's lineup had not been to the plate at all. Any more offense and Grady would be apologizing to Torre this morning. ... Friday's 9-3 win brings Boston to within 2½ games of first place, the closest they have been to the top in a month. Since August 20, when they trailed the Yankees by 7½ games, they have gone 11-3, including four consecutive road wins against top-caliber teams (Phillies, White Sox, Yankees). New York has gone 6-8 in that time. This will be a fight to the finish.
Pedro delivered, even though he was not 100%, according to Varitek. He threw 94 pitches in 6 innings (14-10-15-9-17-29) and struck out nine, including 4 of the first 5 batters. I watched the game on YES and the highest gun reading I saw was 93, on strikeouts of Johnson in the 4th and Giambi in the 6th. Pedro was usually around 88-91 and did not have a three-ball count until the 6th inning. Here are six stories about Pedro. ...
Boston didn't pound Pettitte; they had two infield singles among their five first-inning hits. And although Pettitte didn't fall behind too many hitters (though he issued 4-pitch walks to Merloni and Manny), the Red Sox methodically racked up 9 hits in 2.1 innings. Damon's bases-loaded triple, which made the score 7-0, chased Pettitte from the game. His replacement, Jeff Weaver, actually pitched very well. ... According to the New York Post, Steinbrenner wanted to sign free agent Ortiz, but Cashman said they already had Johnson and Giambi. George the Talent Evaluator said: "Find a way. He's going to be tough." Ortiz is 16-42 against the Yankees this season, with 6 HR; he's slugging .905 and has an OPS of 1.352! The man is on a rolle -- an Esther Rolle!
Ramirez brought his glove and gave us some comic relief ... A look back at the sweep of the Yankees in September 1999 ... What is Grady's fascination with Sauerbeck? Fossum would have been nice in the 7th, although if Sauerbeck can't hold an 8-run lead (it was a 6-run lead when he left), then he's beyond hopeless. More importantly, why is Embree in the 8th inning of a 9-3 game when he'll likely be needed in a higher-leverage situation either today or Sunday? If the answer is he needs some work, then whose fault is it that he doesn't get enough work? ... A New York columnist writes: "The Evil Empire is in danger of being vaporized by Boston." And George is gettin' upset! Plus, he has lowered his expectations: "All we have to do is win one of these three and we'll be okay.'' ... Do I sense panic in New York? ... Wakefield/Texas Con Man in Game #2.