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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Weekend in New York was one to remember

By MIKE SHALIN
August 14. 2017 11:04PM


Did you all enjoy your little roller coaster ride provided by the Red Sox over the weekend?

The first three of 10 between the rivals in 23 days. A span of 52 or so hours of thrills.

It started Friday night, where John Farrell took a public beating for the Yankees rallying from three runs down to score five in the eighth, only to have Eduardo Nunez run into a crucial out at third base as Aroldis Chapman melted down in the ninth. The lead was down to 3½.

Saturday, Andrew Benintendi did his best David Ortiz in the Bronx impression with a pair of three-run homers as the Red Sox routed the Yankees’ best pitcher, Luis Severino.

Sunday night was, as they say about the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all. Another one.

Another wasted Chris Sale effort because of lack of offense. Chapman’s 102.8-mph fastball crushed by Rafael Devers as part of another Chapman meltdown, Farrell again getting fired by the public, and this time even forgetting the rules about changing pitchers. Addison Reed with another oh-oh — and then Benintendi doing it again.

The smoke cleared and the lead was 5½ coming home for Monday night’s makeup game against the Indians, the start of what is now a six-game homestand that has the Yankees coming back in this weekend.

A 5½-game lead in mid-August should mean playoffs — even though the manager might not make it that long.

Kidding, of course.

By the way, Farrell said, “I know the rule. I messed up trying to get Craig Kimbrel into the game.”

Sale-ing along

Sale drove another nail home in his Cy Young chase Sunday, but it came on the same day Corey Kluber won another game for the Indians.

Colleague Scott Lauber of ESPN.com boldly stated the following before Sale’s start: “ICYMI: If Chris Sale beats the Yankees three times in next four weeks, he should be AL MVP. Story, via @espn: espn.com/blog/boston/re…”

Interesting thought. But the skinny lefty HAS been pretty special as he is on track to become the first pitcher ever to have five straight seasons of 200 strikeouts and fewer than 50 walks.

Dustin Pedroia told Fox’s Ken Rosenthal he doesn’t blame Manny Machado for that slide into Pedroia’s left knee earlier in the season. “No, I mean I’ve played middle infield for a long time,” he said. “You know, it’s my job to hang in there on double plays, and try to be ... my job is basically around second base, so there’s so many different incidents and things that have happened over my career. You know, it’s baseball. One play is not the reason (why) I’m banged up.”

Chapped

Sunday night, we saw Devers do something very special: He hit the second home run by a lefty off Chapman, EVER, and the first in six years.

Chapman has simply not been the same since wrapping up the World Series for the Cubs last fall. He came out firing Sunday and had a powerful fastball drilled to tie the game.

Wrote John Harper of the New York Daily News:

“And now Joe Girardi has to think long and hard about whether to keep Chapman and his 3.48 ERA in the role of closer, especially when he has options like Dellin Betances, who seems to be out of his recent slump, and (David) Robertson.”

Well, you’d think so, anyway.

But Girardi said, of Chapman: “He’s my closer.”

Every time Chapman gives it up, you can’t help but think of Joe Maddon running his rental into the ground in the World Series. Column pal Joe Casale noted Maddon, “made him $86 million,” but there seems to be a cost.

Second gear

Bill Belichick brought the media into the discussion when asked Monday about newcomer Brandin Cooks having “a second gear” and knowing when to turn it on.

“I think all players like that. There’s an element of that to them,” he said. “A guy who plays every play can play hard. But, realistically, there’s another level, there’s another gear at certain times, whether it be critical plays or a particular play. I’d say, in my experience, some of the good or great players have been able to identify and achieve that kind of play. Lawrence Taylor was one. He played hard. He was a tough player, one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached, but every play wasn’t the top play. But, every important play was.”

He mentioned “guys like (Randy) Moss or (Tedy) Bruschi, (Willie) McGinest. Some of their biggest plays were at the most critical times, which is what made them great players — Troy Brown.”

“Not saying Brandin does or doesn’t have it,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve really been through that enough with him, but I think there’s an element of that.”

And the media?

“(Second gear is) kind of like you guys,” he said, tongue apparently planted in cheek. “You know, you write your best stories on Sunday or whatever. Yeah, have some good ones, but then when you really need that top story, that’s when you really push the pencil a little harder on the paper.”




Binghamton Mets pitcher Kevin McGowan, from Nashua, NH, works against the Fisher Cats during a game last July. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader File)

The big time

Tip of the cap to local guy Kevin McGowan (Nashua North, Franklin Pierce) for making it to the big leagues with the Mets — arriving during their game Sunday in Philadelphia. Tweeted @NHBaseball_Notes: “Huge shoutout to @kevinmcgowanjr.”

And a salute to First Lieutenant Chris Rowley of the Blue Jays (and formerly the Fisher Cats), who on Saturday became the first West Point graduate to play in the major leagues. He went 5 1/3 innings in a victory. His debut was heralded by a tweet from @undersecarmy: “Great job! Chris Rowley the 1st @USArmy @WestPoint_USMA graduate 2 ever start in a @MLB game.”

Regrets, I have a few

Two guys who suffered key losses to Boston teams in the past seven months are both learning to deal with their defeats and move on.

From Matt Ryan, via Sports Illustrated: “That game is always going to be a part of who I am. It’s always going to drive me, but it doesn’t consume me. I won’t let it consume me.” Class kid. He’ll be back.

And John Wall, who went 0-for-11 from the floor as his Washington Wizards were eliminated by the Celtics in Game 7 of their playoff series, says, “At least I wasn’t being passive.”

Wall and his Wizards, no pals of the Celtics, will be at TD Garden for a Christmas Day game at 5:30.

This and that

The Rays were shut out five times in eight days at home, the first team since the 1955 Orioles to suffer that horror. … The Mets have won 17 of their last 20 series against the Phillies. … The Bruins will hit Manchester Aug. 27 at Arms Park, as part of their FanFest tour of five cities. Free admission. … Colleague Dom Amore says the retired Jim Calhoun is hinting at coaching again, at a small local school. … After prized client Bryce Harper narrowly avoided catastrophic injury slipping on a wet base, mega agent Scott Boras called for baseball to come up with some technology to avoid wet bases. … From @austinkarp: “ESPN drew 2.1 overnight rating for Yankees-Red Sox last night. Best for a non-opening-night MLB game on ESPN since 2014.” … Sorry, but I just don’t care who stands, kneels or sits for the national anthem. This is America. … Matt Barnes, home: 5-1, 1.55 ERA, .174 opponents BA, 0.897 WHIP, eight walks in 27 games, 29 innings; road: 1-2, 5.20 ERA, .211 OBA, 1.373 WHIP, 18 walks in 28 games, 27 2/3 innings. … New owner-to-be Derek Jeter may get rid of that ridiculous home run structure in left-center at Marlins Park. … Joey Votto since the break, via MLB Network’s Brian Kenney: .500 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage.

Finally, chatted with “our Joe Morgan” the other day for book comments and here’s Joe 29 years after Morgan Magic.

“It was unbelievable the way it went — with 12 straight wins, a record for an interim manager. Fred Haney had the record at 11 and I played for him in Milwaukee in 1959. It was crazy because there was cars going by my house by the numbers, all day long, saying, ‘there’s where he lives.’ I went to the hardware store one time and the guy wouldn’t take any money for a hammer I got. It was crazy. Head downtown and shopping took quite a while because everyone was talking to you, let’s put it that way.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL