The bad news tonight was that the Red Sox lost to the Yankees again, falling 1 1/2 games behind New York in the AL East standings.
The good news was that it was a close game (2-1), largely due to the efforts of rookie pitcher David Pauley, who was making just his second Major League start. Going 6 2/3 innings, Pauley scattered eight hits and gave up just two runs against the potent Yankee offense.
A sinker ball pitcher, the 22-year-old kept the ball down and recorded 13 ground outs, five fly outs, and two strike outs. In all, Pauley threw 98 pitches, 61 for strikes.
The only blemish on Pauley's otherwise impressive night was a solo shot to Bernie Williams in the fifth. Pauley was cruising along through the seventh, retiring the first two batters of the inning, before giving up an infield single to Miguel Cairo on a groundball that just slipped under his glove. He'd love to have that one back. Johnny Damon singled immediately, followed by a four-pitch walk to Melky Cabrera. Bases loaed.
The unreliable Rudy Seanez came on in relief and quickly proceed to walk in the winning run. Pauley deserved better. Sure, he was responsible for the runners on base, but what kind of reliever walks in the winning run? Julian Taverez walked in a couple last week, but that lead was too big to blow despite Mr. T's efforts. The Sox bullpen has issues.
The starting rotation has its own issues, such as what happened to Josh Beckett in game one, Matt Clement in general, and who the fifth starter will be. The first two remain a mystery, but judging by tonight's performance in hostile Yankee stadium, the Sox may have found their fifth starter -- or some insurance in the event that David Wells can come back and be effective. Even if that happens, the Sox are just an injury -- or a mental meltdown -- away from needing Pauley's services again, and may consider themselves fortunate to have found a determined young sinker baller pitching in Double A ball.
Who would have thunk it?
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.