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September 14, 2007 at 5:59 am ET
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Left field in Fenway? Matsui or Damon

Hideki Matsui covering the ground in front of the Green MonsterIn most ballparks, Johnny Damon makes a better leftfielder because of the ground he can cover on balls hit into the gap.  But with the Yankees in Fenway Park for an important three-game series starting tonight, Hideki Matsui might be the better choice.

That’s because no one plays the Green Monster better than Matsui, with the exception perhaps of Manny Ramirez.  He has an intrinsic sense of pretending to have a play on the ball, then allowing it to hit off the wall and limiting batters’ extra bases.

On the other hand, Damon played many years in the Red Sox outfield and knows it well.  In the second game of the series with the Toronto Blue Jays, he made a diving catch that kept pitcher Phil Hughes in the game.  I suppose the argument could be made that Damon should be back in centerfield, his favored position.  But neither fielder has the cannon of Melky Cabrera, who has earned the right to call that spot his own.

While Damon’s bat has been hot, Matsui has been slumping.  My bet is Matsui gets the start tonight with Damon as the designated hitter, which means Jason Giambi will take over first base duties.

***

Why not get paid for fly balls?

At the end of the sixth inning last night, Damon caught a fly ball in left field and gave it to a fan, who gave Damon a $20 bill.  While running to the dugout, Damon handed the money to a child.

In Toronto, it was a light-hearted interaction between a player and the fans.  Should that happen in Boston this weekend, Boston fans will beat the child to within an inch of its life for the twenty.  Not for a souvenir.  For beer money.

***

So how important is this Red Sox series?  It’s difficult to believe the Yankees can catch the Red Sox even if they sweep the weekend series.  But in order to maintain the Wild Card lead over the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees have to take two of three.  Both teams throw out their two best pitchers in the first two games, with Sunday night slated for a Clemens-Schilling showdown.  Regardless of standings, the series are always brutal, with hard slides into second, fastballs around the chin and always the chance of a bench-clearing brawl. 

***

Last night’s loss in the bottom of the ninth to the Blue Jays was a tough one.  On the one hand, the Yankees have not hit the ball well in two games, but they still out-hit the Blue Jays last night.  On the upside, rookie Ian Kennedy pitched a gem through seven, striking out seven and giving up only one hit in the game.

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2 Responses to “Left field in Fenway? Matsui or Damon”
  1. Dan Tobin Dan Tobin says:

    If Johnny Damon gave $20 to a kid in Fenway Park, he’d ball it up and throw it back like an opposing team’s homer ball. We hate us some Johnny Damon.

    (Partly because he used to do charming and hilarious stuff like that for us before selling his soul to the Bronx. Shaved Emasculated Shell indeed.)

  2. David Chalk David Chalk says:

    I saw the SESoJohnny Damon $20 incident on ESPN and I was confused. Everybody on my TV thought is was so cute and Aww like your squirrel.

    But Damon took the ball, ran past the kid originally, stopped for a $20 from an adult, then ran back to the kid with the $20. Wouldn’t most kids have rather had the ball?

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