05/24/2002 00:05 am ET
Small ball beats Yanks in Boston
By Mike Petraglia / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Yankees manager Joe Torre doesn't have to be reminded of how important the smallest of details are in winning baseball games. Especially, when the opposing pitcher is Pedro Martinez. Thursday night, both the Yankees and Red Sox tried to do the little things. The Red Sox succeeded where the Yankees couldn't.
Martinez Thursday limited the Yankees to four hits and a single run while striking out 10 over seven innings, leading the Red Sox to a 3-1 win in the opener of the four-game weekend series at Fenway Park. The loss put New York two games behind Boston in the AL East.
Through four innings, Martinez, who improved to 7-6 lifetime against New York, faced just one batter over the minimum. But then came the fifth and the first legitimate scoring opportunity as Jorge Posada doubled to left leading off the inning.
The frame would end with the Yankee catcher still on second. Martinez got Robin Ventura to pop out to second, Rondell White to ground back to the mound and John Vander Wal to watch a third strike sail by.
"He's too good a pitcher," said Posada. "You've got to get very good at-bats against him. Sometimes you get breaks, sometimes you don't."
While the Yankees couldn't rattle Martinez, the Red Sox weren't having much more success against lefty Ted Lilly. Following Nomar Garciaparra's run-scoring double in the first, Lilly retired the next 10 batters he faced. The little things produced two very big insurance runs in the fifth, when Tony Clark's fly to right advanced Jose Offerman to third with one out. Trot Nixon followed with a sacrifice fly to left to score the second run, the decisive tally of the game.
"I'm disappointed to a certain extent," said Lilly. "I would have like to gotten ahead a little bit more and there were just a few mistakes that you can't afford to make to a club like this."
"I'm disappointed to a certain extent. I would have like to gotten ahead a little bit more and there were just a few mistakes that you can't afford to make to a club like this."
-- Ted Lilly
"Whenever you play the Yankees," said Boston's Johnny Damon, "it's going to be like a playoff atmosphere. You've got to manufacture runs by moving runners around. A good example of that was Tony having a tough at-bat and hitting the ball to the opposite field and advancing the runner with what proved to be an important run."
Down 3-0, the Yankees pushed across their only run in the sixth, an inning that promised much more than it delivered. With runners on first and third and one out, Bernie Williams grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring Nick Johnson. Williams, with two strikes on Jason Giambi, was thrown out trying to steal second and the threat ended there.
"Obviously, when you've got him against the ropes, you want to be able to capitalize on it. But he was able to make pitches to get out of it," said Williams.
Torre had no apologies for his aggressive base-running approach with the Red Sox ace on the mound.
"You're trying to steal something," explained Torre. "You're trying not to be predictable. Obviously, in a situation like that, you're not going to steal too much with Jason at bat. We decided to give it a shot.
"When we had first and third and we get a hit there," continued Torre, "who knows what happens. But that's what makes him great. The great pitchers pitch out of jams when it looks like they're in trouble because they keep their head about them."
"Shoot, he (Pedro) makes a pitch when there's nobody on," said Giambi. "That's what makes him (so) good."
Martinez finally gave way to Red Sox relievers Tim Wakefield and Ugueth Urbina in the eight and ninth, respectively.
"That was our opportunity, the way he was pitching," said Giambi. "Get him out of there and get the bullpen in there and hopefully get a little rally going. We had some base runners tonight but we could never really push anything across. They just beat us tonight."
For the first time August 31 of last year, Roger Clemens will take the mound Friday at Fenway Park. The 39-year-old Rocket will oppose another veteran, 37-year-old John Burkett. "He doesn't know what his age is," said Torre of Clemens. "He still has fun. He's still enthusiastic. He's still a big kid to me." Torre acknowledged that Fenway still has somewhat of a hold on Clemens. "I'm sure it's a lot more distracting than pitching somewhere else. The last year or so, he's been comfortable in our uniform and has really been able to block things out. Again, that's not going to keep him from trying to throw it 200 miles an hour. A lot of times, he gets himself pumped. In this park, I can maybe see that being a problem early (in the game)."
Joe Torre loves New York. But he also admires the fans that turn out at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox. "The fans here are loyal," said Torre Thursday. "They fill this joint up every day. But you know what's in the back of a lot of their minds. Just watching TV, the interviews of fans and what they're saying, 'we'll see.' They still have that (doubt) in the back of their minds. There's something in store. But it doesn't keep them from coming out here and bleeding for this ball club. I love it here. I think it's dynamite. It's exciting. You can really feel the passion."
After winning the AL East the last four years, Joe Torre was asked again Thursday, before the opener, if the Yankees in the minds of the Red Sox. "I hope we are. They beat us three out of four the last time we were here. They didn't seem to mind who the hell we are. You'd like to believe we have some kind of spell on them. I don't buy into it. I really don't. The games we have played since I have been here have been very close. Even when it looked like we had a better team than they had, it was never easy. I really don't know if they're looking over their shoulders. You'd have to ask them that. This is the first time in a while they we've come up here and we're lurking. They've normally been lurking and we've been in first place."
Joe Torre said after Thursday's game that Mariano Rivera would have been available to throw if he had been needed in the series opener. Rivera has not pitched since Monday and was being treated for mild strain of his right groin. "You going to lose something if you don't have Mo, psychologically, if nothing else," said Torre. "We do what we have to do. He and the catcher (are irreplaceable parts). It's tough to replace what Jorge (Posada) gives you."
Mike Petraglia is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.