Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sox-Yanks: The Really Big Story

A-Rod hit two more jacks tonight in Boston and is officially headed for the best April in recorded history. He now has 12 home runs and 30 RBI and is absolutely carrying a crumbling Yankees team on his back. I've never really cared for this lad since he screwed the Mariners over in order to stuff his pockets with trillion dollar bills, but I have to tip my cap on this one. I will be updating my old column on A-Rod's hunt for the career home run record in light of recent events, that is for sure.

However, as amazing as this sounds, A-Rod's mashing wasn't even the biggest story in Beantown tonight. That honor goes to the Artist Formerly Known as Mariano Rivera.

Tonight Rivera was called in to stop a Boston rally in the bottom of the eighth and promptly gave up an RBI single to Jason Varitek, a two-run triple to Coco Crisp (he of the .167 batting average), and an RBI single to the legendary Alex Cora. Four batters faced, three run-scoring hits, a second blown save in as many appearances. This all came on the heels of Rivera giving up a three-run home run to the A's Marco Scutaro earlier in the week. He's blown two saves, has two losses, and sports an ERA of 8.44. Of even greater concern is the fact that he's only struck out two hitters since fanning the side in his first appearance of the season, against the Devil Rays. Could it be that he's losing his stuff?

It is important to note that Rivera has had a few of these cold spells in the past. In early 2005 the Sox battered him a little bit, and coming on the heels of the Dave Roberts Game and everything else in that crazy ALCS, it started to look like he was washed up at worst and that the Red Sox owned him at best. It turns out it was neither as he settled back down and resumed being a dominant closer for the next 734 days (Rivera blew just three saves by virtue of allowing more than one earned run between April 10, 2005 and April 14, 2007 and never once blew consecutive save opps during that time).

So now we sit back and watch to see whether this is the beginning of the end, or just another blip on the radar. Either way, it's a big enough story that A-Rod's torrential pace must take a backseat, at least for one night.

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