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Home » August 2005 Game CommentsAugust 2005 » Sublime


Game 122: August 21, 2005
Red Sox (71-51), 5
Angels (71-53), 1
W: Mike Timlin (5-2)
L: Paul Byrd (9-8)

Not only did the Red Sox not commit errors, there were several marvelous defensive plays that made this game more gratifying than any slugfest. I’m an adherent to the belief that solid foundational play holds you in good stead and this theory held today. In the 2nd inning Manny Ramirez made a superlative play on Casey Kotchman’s fly ball to left field by tracking down the ball with no regard for life or dreadlock. Jason Varitek neutralized Chone Figgins on the basepaths by catching him stealing in the 3rd to end the inning. Tony Graffanino wasn’t necessarily fundamentally sound but did make a stylish catch of Adam Kennedy’s pop fly for the second out of the 9th inning. The Red Sox second baseman ranged into shallow right field with the sun blasting straight in his face. He backhanded the ball for a moment, but then it sidled out of his glove and rolled down his arm. Graffanino whipped around quickly enough to catch the ball on the rebound.

Clean defensive play was necessary because Byrd pitched a gem of a game for the first 7 innings. He sat down 15 Red Sox hitters consecutively and looked as he was on his way to a complete game shutout.

Bill Mueller led off the 8th inning with a single grounded to left field and Graffanino did the same. Terry Francona signaled for a bunt with Gabe Kapler at the plate, and unlike yesterday the stratagem failed as the lead runner was erased. Next Johnny Damon grounded to out third and it seemed that another rally would yield barren fruit. Edgar Renteria begged to differ with his clutch 3-run homer with 2 out. Angels left fielder Juan Rivera couldn’t leap high enough to intercept the ball’s progress and the shutout ended abruptly. With a baseball equivalent of Trading Places, David Ortiz bunted down the third base line to subvert the shift and got his first bunt for a base hit of his career. Mike Scioscia awoke from his mid-afternoon nap to bring in Brendan Donnelly to face Ramirez, perhaps thinking that the .125 batting average implied a good match-up but maybe not realizing it was based on only 8 plate appearances. Small sample sizes--they’ll kill you. So will 2-run home runs to render the score 5-0.

Papelbon was the very definition of chutzpah. Undaunted by former MVP Vladimir Guerrero, Papelbon pitched the right fielder high and inside on the 0-2 count in the 4th inning. Papelbon then got Guerrero to swing on his 5th pitch to strike the lethal clean-up hitter. Audacious and intrepid, the rookie righty still has not earned his first victory, but proved his mettle against a superior opponent. His line was 5.2 innings, 5 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts.

Curt Schilling made his last appearance from the bullpen. I wasn’t a proponent of the experiment, but his stint served its purpose. I don’t doubt that he’ll be much more effective with the latitude that starting pitchers have in manipulating the opposing teams’ hitters across multiple innings.

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