Looking for Doom and Gloom? Won’t Find it Here

Preface: Of course I wanted the Red Sox to win this game.
That being said … I don’t feel the least bit upset we lost. Did we get “schooled”? Oh, I’d say we did. Renteria botching that groundball … Damon missing two Texas Leaguers, Wells hitting Giambi twice (although to be fair, Giambi didn’t move a muscle – per the rules, if you don’t try to avoid the ball, you’re out) and had an inexplicable balk. And then something that was high comedy to me – Halama botching a bases-loaded groundball. I just busted out laughing right then and there. It was the cherry on the top.
You’re not going to see me say “It’s only April” or “It’s only one game” because one game counts, whether it’s April, July, or September. We lost, and now we’re one game in the hole. It’s a game we’re going to wish we had in September … but it happens.
This now marks the fifth straight opening game that we’ve lost (nine of our last 10 openers have been away with 2002 the exception). We lost last year. Where did we go? We won the World Series in improbable fashion. We lost in 2003. Where did we go? We took the Yankees to Game Seven of the ALCS. (And would have gone further beyond if not for one slight detail, but I digress.)
In 1904 and 1913, the year after we won the World Series in the preceding years, we dropped the opener. In 1916, 1917, and 1919, we won those openers. So yeah, opening day really affects your playoff hopes. It’s a killer.
Moving on to the game:
David Wells got a bad rap in my opinion.

IP      H    R   ER  BB  K   ERA
4.1    10    4    4   1  4   8.31 

You’re right. The two walks and the balk? Not good. But how many hard-hit balls were off Wells? I can only remember one, Sheffield’s rocket into the outfield. I could be wrong, though – he did give up ten hits after all. But honestly, I thought it was more the fact that Wells wasn’t very sharp.
Sam, a commenter, says that it was a “predictable outing by Wells. He’s got the control, and he’s got the smarts, but he no longer has the stuff to intimidate.”
I don’t think Wells has ever had intimidating stuff. You think Jamie Moyer has intimidating stuff? Somehow I doubt it. He did strike four out in 4.1 IP, so I take consolation in that. It was just a matter of spotting the ball more. If you Yankee fans who seem to have found frequenting this site an enjoyment are expecting me to be all doom and gloom, I’m sorry. Maybe if you try ESPN where the national media will concoct anything they want to say. We got off to a good start with Payton rifling a shot off Randy Johnson to score a run. Prior to that, Kevin Millar had almost taken RJ deep but Matsui put a stop to that. (Dang that Matsui!)
Speaking of Randy Johnson … color me unimpressed.
I know, I know.

IP   H   R   ER   BB   K    ERA
6.0  5   1    1    2   6   1.50 

Whether it’s Randy Johnson or Derek Lowe, it’s a good line. But it wasn’t a Randy Johnson line. David Wells, you can say that he has these lines now and then because we’ve seen him be brilliant, average, and lousy. Randy Johnson? Last night he seemed to be throwing a lot more junk than usual, and his slider and fastball (at least to me) just weren’t electric.
ESPN also agrees, saying that:

Johnson did not have anything close to his best stuff, his best fastballs reaching about 93-94 mph, many of his sliders spinning flatly, particularly early in the game. (ESPN)

Color me unimpressed – by his stuff. He obviously got the job done, but the offense for the Sox just was a tad unlucky. Balls hit right at people, balls hit where Matsui could pick them off … overall I didn’t take too much away from this game.
ESPN also said this about David Wells:

Wells typically has had problems pitching in hot and humid weather in his career, greatly preferring brisk conditions. It rained all day Saturday and rained again much of Sunday, the dampness exacerbated by temperatures in the high 30s; as usual, Wells did not wear long sleeves.
But he seemed to have a very hard time in the cold, blowing on his left hand constantly, struggling to throw his curveball sharply and command his fastball. When Wells can’t throw the ball where he wants to throw it, he always has trouble.

I thought Renteria, aside from that groundball, was pretty smooth in the field. Millar is no Mientkiewicz, but I didn’t have any problems. Bellhorn and Mueller were steady, Manny and Payton were fine. Damon I think needs to be a lot more decisive. Either catch the ball or field it cleanly. But he’ll come around as he always does. It always takes time to kick into gear, and you could argue the Yankees need time to kick it into gear as well.
Bottom line? I take nothing away from this game except chalking a “L” into the column, and I move on to Wednesday, where we see Matt Clement’s debut against Carl Pavano. (Unfortunately, I’ll miss the first two-thirds of the game, drat! You guys will have to keep me posted in the game thread.) It should be a very interesting game to watch, and I’m willing to bet that it will be very messy on both sides. But someone will come out the victor (hopefully the Red Sox) and we’ll immediately move on to Thursday where Wakefield opposes Mussina.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. And I still feel good about our chances.

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