Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Yanks Survive Toughest Game in 2003

I feel badly for every Boston Red Sox fan today.

Pedro Martinez gave them the game they had been waiting for seven innings in the most significant start of his career in Yankee Stadium, no less. He held the Yankees down and looked like a hero, wiping away any memory of Saturday’s fiasco in Fenway.

I’ve watched baseball for a long time. We all have become baseball managers watching the playoffs this year. We all know about pitch counts. The announcers are forever lecturing the listeners about the matchups.

But we have two eyes and can see plainly when the pitcher has lost his stuff at the critical part of the game and must be replaced.

That is all of us except Grady Little. I wrote it yesterday that Little has been slow on his pitching decisions during the postseason, almost costing his team game six when he let John Burkett get pounded in a game he couldn’t afford to lose.

To the chagrin of the Red Sox nation he continued that horrid trend Thursday night, robbing the Sox of their chance to go to the world series.

Pedro was cooked before Bernie Williams ripped his hit in the eighth. Alan Embree was ready and willing, throwing 95 plus in every appearance in the series. Mike Timlin had been perfect before allowing one hit yesterday. Scott Williamson had been lights out too. What a menu to choose from.

Little didn’t see it that way. Unbelievably he let Pedro talk him out of removing him from the game. Frankly, watching Pedro when Little came to the mound, the righty didn’t seem to say much, I think he knew he was done, but was just being a warrior, saying he could continue.

Matsui doubled, pulling the ball like a power hitter, which he isn’t. You just sensed bigger trouble ahead.

Posada’s flair was the last straw, tying the game and for all intents and purposes this game was over at that juncture because Mariano Rivera was coming in.

Click below for more!The Red Sox played the Yankees like champions. The Yanks were on the ropes. Roger Clemens got rocked for two homers, giving the Sox a four run lead.

Joe Torre brought his starting pitchers into the game in relief just as I said he would. Mike Mussina and David Wells held the Sox to one run, David Ortiz’s shot off Wells. The rest of the Yankee pen was flawless. Torre earned his dough last night.

So what was it? Why did Little sit and watch this game slip away without a fight?

Bullpen by committee, the ill fated Bill James experiment. The bullpen had burned the Sox so many times throughout the regular season that Little must have been having flashbacks which clouded his judgment.

I learned how a manager handles the end of the game from Art Howe when he was with the A’s. If you gave Art relievers that could get the job done, he never let the starter give the game away after the seventh inning.

They say Grady Little manages from his gut, I like that, robot managers get old after awhile. I like initiative, but how do you turn your back on what is happening on the field during the biggest game of your life? Where was the pitching coach? The bench coach?

Don’t take anything away from the Yankees, they put the bat on the ball. They are winners, they don’t choke, they keep their cool in the toughest situations.

They were handed the chance to win the American League pennant and they didn’t drop the ball.

More power to them for stepping up to the plate with the season on the line and getting it done.

Tim Wakefield shouldn’t feel badly about giving up the homer to Aaron Boone, it’s part of the game. That stuff happens occasionally and it’s OK.

Just ask former Pirate Bill Mazeroski, he rode his game winning homer in the 1960 World Series right into the Hall of Fame.

No, this game was lost when the manager let his ace get rocked when he had a lights out bullpen ready to go with a three run lead and one out in the eighth.

Pedro wasn’t Koufax, Gibson, Seaver or Marichal last night, but he was damned good until he ran out of gas, he had the Red Sox in position to nail the pennant.

That is until his manager Grady Little choked in the clutch.

And that is the story of last night’s game in a nutshell, not the homer by Boone as most people are writing about this morning.

This story starts with a great effort by Martinez and ends with a horrifc decision by the manager.

Sorry Red Sox Nation, you deserved better this time!


1 Anonymous { 10.17.03 at 11:33 am }

Your comments are well taken, For this Red Sox fan it doesn’t make it any easier. 5 million hearts were broken in Boston last night and many more
around the country. However,Boston fans will recover and come February, hope will again be in those hearts. I do agree with you about Art Howe.
He once said that he could tell by a pitcher’s eyes
if the guy was going to come through for him. Maybe Grady Little should have look at Pedro in the eye. He would have known there was no gas left in the tank.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and there is nothing
that can be done about last night’s game.
These were exciting games and the drama of
playoff baseball is unmatched.The World Series
can be anti-climatic at times. I wish the Marlins good luck and hope they will pull off the upset.

Jerry F

2 marty { 10.17.03 at 11:40 am }

You are being too kind. This is no 20/20 hindsight, the manager had a bad playoff and in my opinion let this game get away. The Yankees are like safe crackers, cool under pressure and they always seem to figure out the combination and make their getaway just before the police arrive. Too bad for Sox fans.

3 Anonymous { 10.17.03 at 1:33 pm }

Marty: You’re right on about Martinez and Little. Why can we all see it and the managers can’t. 75% of what they get paid for is managing the pitching during pressure times. There aren’t too many of them who do it well (Howe and Alou are two of the exceptions. Alou doesn’t care who the pitcher is. if he’s in trouble and should be out of there, he goes.) The Sox should be the winners, Little blew it. Other than that, this has been an unbelievable post season this far. If Florida holds up their end, it will continue to be. Further, the more I see of Jeter the more I appreciate what a great balplayer he is. He brings more to the game than mere physical skills. He is a most positive presence, in the dugout as well as on the field.

4 Anonymous { 10.17.03 at 2:09 pm }

I can’t agree with all this…
Marty has talked all season long about “confidence” by the manager with whom he goes to in the pen (look at all of Bradford’s appearances during the season).
What confidence did Little have in his pen?
All season long they showed him something…
…and it wasn’t a whole lot of confidence.
Yes, during this post-season the pen had been a pleasant surprise for all of the Red Sox nation…
So there Little was on the mound in the 8th with the game on the line… does he leave in his ace, whom all agree is the best pitcher in the AL or does he bring in the bull pen that has let him down numerous times all season long but only recently has shown signs of delivering in the clutch?
Talk about a tough situation!!!
I’m sure Little could see quite clearly the needle on “E” in Martinez’s eyes… -but how many times has any team’s “go-to” guy gutted it out and won and made that manager look like a genius?
This one was a “gut check” call for Little and if it worked he was a genius and if it didn’t he was a goat!
The goat got this one!

I put this one more on the Boston organization.
Bull pen by commitee!!! ???
Wakefield certainly had a good season and a great postseason but it doesn’t take a genius in baseball to realize that a knuckleballer in extra innings in an away game is simply one lucky swing away from going home for the season (not to take anything away from the great hit by Arron Boone).
Shame on Boston for the bull pen being such a weak link of an otherwise solid team in such a critical game.
Message to Epstein concerning off-season priorities: Its going to take pitching to beat the Yanks! Both starting and out of the pen.

C. Pyle
Morgan Hill

5 Anonymous { 10.17.03 at 4:40 pm }

IMO, the regular season stuff is largely out the window in playoff time. You never know how individual players are going to perform. Unless, of course, you have a team of tested veterans like the Yanks who always find a way to produce and/or help each other out. When one isn’t doing it, someone else is. Too bad the A’s don’t have that advantage. Back to the subject. The Red Sox pen has been virtually lights out in the playoffs. They were pitching great and with tremendous confidence. There’s no reason not go to the pen in that situation. Embree in particular was throwing exceptionally well. A lefthander who can throw 97mph? Makes Durazo’s hit off him in the 1st game of the division series that much more impressive. Martinez was done. It was clear that he was losing it and he is unable to go more than 7 innings anways. The blame falls on Little. Marty called it correctly. He said he was going to blow it and he did. Great observation, Marty.

6 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

7 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

You must log in to post a comment.