Yankees elimination is one to relish

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Yankees elimination is one to relish

People will tell you they are a classy organization. Media talking heads will say that all they do is win. Their fans will tell you that youre just jealous of all the championships. All those things may in fact be true, but watching the Yankees crash and burn in spectacular fashion is still oh so glorious.

Last nights season ending pinstripe defeat was sweeter than most. After they were granted a rainy stay of execution, the 2012 version of the Evil Empire was swiftly and emphatically swept from the playoffs by a surging Detroit Tigers team. After dealing the Bombers an 8-1 drubbing in the clinching game, the Tigers were showered with champagne and the Detroit ground crew kept the tarp ready in case of any Waldman related precipitation.

Ok before I go any further, lets get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the Red Sox season ended sometime right after the press conference that named Bobby Valentine as manager. Yes, the 2012 Red Sox were the baseball equivalent of that 50 foot dead whale floating around Boston Harbor. Long dead and bloated, they floated aimlessly though the season slowly decomposing. Yes, next year will probably end up being the bridge year that fans didnt want to stomach in 2010. And yes, as Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardis report from an anonymous Red Sox illustrates, even after the in season removal of a quarter billion of bad attitudes, there is still some clubhouse cleaning that needs to be done. To put it simply, the 2012 Red Sox were historically bad.

This years Yankees, on the other hand, soldiered though a successful if unspectacular run to the American League East title while surviving a late season push by the resurgent Orioles as well as numerous injuries, not the least of which was a season-ender to all-time great closer Mariano Rivera.

Unfortunately for the Yankees and their fans, thats pretty much where the highlights end. Yes the Yankees did win a thrilling five game divisional series with Baltimore, but if the Os had someone to close games other than Byung-Hyun Johnson, New York would have been done in 4 games and the plans for Raul Ibanez to be canonized as the patron saint of pinch hitting would never have made it to the Vatican.

The Pope wont have to worry about commissioning any stain glass windows commemorating the Yankees performance in the ALCS. Last rights are now overdue as the Detroit Tigers demolished a Yankee team in offensive shambles. Batting ineptitude that harkened back to the late 80s versions of the Bombers was the story of this series, which suited Curtis Granderson fine as hes been perfecting his Steve Balboni impression all season. Even the Williamsport-like confines of New Yankee Stadium proved insufficient to artificially animate this slumping Yankee lineup. But they did prove intimate enough to allow Alex Rodrigez to grab some digits as he alternated between riding pine and lowering the Yankees carbon footprint as a right-handed wind farm.

It got even worse for the pinstripes as the almost immortal Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, was felled by a freak ankle fracture. Till this point in his career Jeter has been the baseball version of Dorian Grey, seemingly ageless. But a routine grounder combined with an already weakened ankle, and Jeter having less range than Michael Cera painted the portrait of the Captain's mortality. (And before I get added to Dan Shaughnessys anonymous axis of internet evil, like Rivera, I hope Jeter recovers fully and returns. I have nothing but respect for both players and hope they end their careers on their own terms, which will include a standing ovation in their last appearance at Fenway.)

Its only fitting that after the heart and soul of the Yankees was carried off the field that the rest of the team collapsed like a house of cards, but not before adding delicious insult to unfortunate injury.

As a result of trailing a series three games to none, the Yankees and their fans were forced, once again, to revisit the darkest moment in franchise history. Every time a team trails a seven game series three games to none, in any sport, the footage of the 2004 Red Sox come from behind series victory gets rolled out. Its the gift that keeps on giving for Sox fans. Now Yankee fans were not only subjected to reliving the worst choke in sports history, but forced to read from Yankees scribe Jeff Bradley of the New Jersy Star-Ledger about how the Yankees themselves should watch Four Days in October and embrace the mantra of Kevin Millar Dont Let us win tonight.

The Yankees must have just fast forwarded to the end of that documentary because their game four performance was a carbon copy of game seven of the 2004 ALCS. The ace Hessian of the Yankees staff falters under pressure and the Bombers are ushered out of the post season in blowout fueled by a barrage of home runs.

This is truly a Yankee defeat to relish, not only for its magnitude, but because the outlook for New York next season is uncharacteristically grim. CSNNEs Sean McAdams Yankee post mortem might as well have been written on the walls of a Mayan temple. If half of the quatrains in McAdam's piece hold true, the Yankees wont have to worry about embarrassing playoff attendance for some time.

Personally, the thought of not being able to witness the Yankees squander hundreds of millions of dollars in cataclysmic post season fashion, is a bit depressing, but as we know, all good things must come to an end. Right Suzyn?

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

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Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON - The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.