10/14/2004 12:18 AM ET
Game balls: Rating Game 2
Lieber, Rivera riding in style with strong performances
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
MLB.com is awarding "game balls" -- or, in this case, Wally the Green Monster to represent the Red Sox, and subway cars, in honor of New York City's mass transit system -- for performances in this year's American League Championship Series.
Let's see who took the express train and who hit the wall in the Yankees' impressive Game 2 victory against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Five subway cars: Empty car, all the seats to yourself
Four subway cars: Smooth ride, even got a nap
Three subway cars: Had to stand, but life is good
Two subway cars: Got my jacket caught in the door
One subway car: Overslept; hot, crowded car; splitting headache
Jon Lieber: It was tough for Lieber to match Mike Mussina's effort in Game 1, but Lieber was decidedly dominant for six innings and took it even further, through the seventh inning and into the start of the eighth. If the Yankees can count on Mussina and Lieber like that, it may be a very quick series.
Brian Cashman: Sure, the Yankees GM has a generous budget to work with, but it took brains, and not too many dollars, to sign Lieber two winters ago knowing that he would need at least a year to recover from surgery. Lieber has given the Yankees a starter they can rely on at a time when they didn't have many.
John Olerud: With the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Olerud's home run gave his 'mates the cushion they needed to breathe just a little. It turned out to be a significant blast as the Red Sox scored a run in the eighth.
Gary Sheffield: For the second night in a row, Sheffield got things started, this time with an RBI single in the first inning. He's hitting .625 in the series and can't wait to take aim at the Green Monster.
Mariano Rivera: A couple of four-out saves prove just how invaluable a gem like Rivera can be in the playoffs. He doesn't challenge hitters, he just toys with them.
Five Wallys: Wave the Red Sox flag high and mighty
Four Wallys: Makes Red Sox Nation feel good
Three Wallys: The fur could use a little fluffing
Two Wallys: Might be time to dry-clean the outfit
One Wally: You're stuck rallying the faithful in northern Maine
Pedro Martinez: Just as he did in the ALDS against the Angels, Martinez stepped up when his teammates needed him. He looked close to the Pedro of old and did not let the Yankees fans' constant taunting break his concentration. It was very important to the Red Sox for him to pitch well because, considering Curt Schilling's condition, Martinez may have to pitch two more times in crucial games.
Manny Ramirez: He was hot in the ALDS but has contributed very little against the Yankees. Ramirez may be pressing because he appears to be swinging at a number of tough pitches to hit.
Johnny Damon: The Red Sox can not start their run-scoring machine without Damon on base. But he's 0-for-8, with five strikeouts in the first two games. If he doesn't start hitting soon, the Red Sox might have trouble keeping the games close. Maybe he'll rebound when the series moves to Boston.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.