If Monday's game was a sandwich, the bread would have been made with the finest grains in all the land, imbued with a magical yeast and sliced by a knife capable of imparting extra flavor thanks to a bladesmith taught by the gods.
The meat in the middle, however, was of the lowest quality -- gristly, stringy and slathered with mayo that spent far too many hours out in the sun.
Thankfully, the last thing you taste with such a sandwich is the last bite of bread. With bread that good, it's easy to forget the meat. The last thing the Yankees tasted on Monday night was pie, which meant an 11-9 victory and a much easier time forgetting how dreadful things had been for so much of the night.
That's what drilling a pair of substandard Jonathan Papelbon fastballs deep into the Bronx night will do for a team. Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames were both sitting on the fastball and both of them got one on their first pitch. There wasn't much doubt about either blast once they left the bat, nor was there much doubt that A.J. Burnett would make an appearance to truly welcome Thames back to the Yankees during his postgame interview.
It wasn't hard to believe things would end well at the game's start. A five-run first inning put the Sox on the ropes and the Yankees raked Daisuke Matsuzaka for seven runs in total, but Tim Wakefield came in and did some strong relief work to keep the game close. Phil Hughes, meanwhile, turned in his first poor start of the season and gave back most of a 6-1 lead before leaving the game after the fifth inning. Circumstances, poor performances and poor management conspired to give away the rest of it.
Joe Girardi didn't have David Robertson or Joba Chamberlain available to pitch after their weekend efforts. He didn't have Sergio Mitre and didn't want to use Javier Vazquez unless absolutely necessary. That meant it was up to Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park to protect what was a 7-5 lead entering the sixth inning.
You know how that turned out already so, to make a long story short, let's just say that the crowd responded loudly to their efforts. They weren't saying "Boooooone" or "Chan Hoooooooooooo," however.
Girardi had his hands tied, to be sure, but he bears some of the blame because he's irrationally attached to Logan, a player who has proven unworthy of being in games at every turn this season. Park was just off the DL, which made the prospect of going two innings a dangerous one but, again, Girardi had his hands tied. With six more games this week, the team can't allow something like that to happen again even if it means getting creative with the roster for a few days.
But all's well that ends well and this sandwich even came with a tasty pickle on the side. Vazquez came in as a last resort with two out and two on in the top of the ninth and got Kevin Youkilis to strike out. That earned him the win and, perhaps, erased a few of the demons associated with what happened the last time he pitched in relief against Boston.
Maybe not, but the game was still part of the same historical standard set by the 2004 ALCS and all the other memorable games in the past. Twists and turns kept coming, massive swings in momentum came at regular intervals and, at the end, a pie in the face.
That's what you want from the Yankees and the Red Sox and, for the first time in 2010, we got it.