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Home » September 2005 Game CommentsSeptember 2005 » Hit


Game 147: September 16, 2005
Athletics (81-66), 2
Red Sox (86-61), 3
L: Juan Cruz (0-3)
W: Mike Timlin (7-2)
10 innings
1.5 games ahead in the division
1 game winning streak

September baseball can be tedious. Managers execute the same tiresome tactics: the endless substitutions of hitters, runners, and defensive players, not to mention the 6 or 7 pitchers both teams trot out for the theoretically optimal match-ups. But last night was different.

The 10th inning of last night’s game was epic. Timlin came in to relieve Tim Wakefield, who had pitched yet another complete game without a win. The knuckleballer’s line was 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts, supporting the case to name him team ace.

Timlin got the first two batters he faced out easily enough, but when facing the 9-hole hitter Marco Scutaro the right-handed reliever yielded a double to right field. There was a remote chance of Trot Nixon throwing out the swift shortstop, but the right fielder’s throw, though accurate, was tardy. With the count full to Mark Ellis, Timlin threw a pitch galley-west allowing the go-ahead run to third base. Ellis futilely grounded out to Edgar Renteria to kill Oakland’s chances. Because if things went badly for the A’s in the bottom of the 1oth, you-know-who was going to be at the plate.

Tony Graffanino played Cruz like his favorite playlist on his iPod. With a 2-2 count, the second baseman lined to the opposite field. Alejandro Machado pinch ran for him, and his speed enabled Boston to get the tying run to third when Johnny Damon grounded out.

Ken Macha began tinkering and September micromanaging was made manifest. He replaced left fielder Jay Payton with Keith Ginter to have five infielders with Renteria at the plate. Cruz lost control of his 3-1 pitch to hit the Red Sox shortstop and the home team sat pretty with runners at the corners, 1 out, and David Ortiz batting. You will recall that Ortiz hit a game-tying home run in the 6th inning.

The memo to major league managers finally made the rounds it seems, the one that reads Don’t pitch to David Americo Ortiz with the game on the line. Or with RISP. There is such a thing as clutch hitting. Whenever possible, just don’t. Ortiz was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Manny Ramirez has had many opportunities to get closer to Lou Gehrig’s record 23 grand slams lately. But Keiichi Yabu didn’t give the left fielder the chance; on his 1-1 pitch Yabu plunked Ramirez to move over the runners. Machado has now scored 2 runs and has had 2 major league at bats, but neither run was the result of him getting on base via the hit.

The Red Sox are 24-14 in one-run games, 2-0 in extra inning games at home, 6-2 in all extra inning games, 11-6 when tied after 8 innings, and 19-13 in games decided at the last at bat. The Blue Jays played the Yankees last night and after falling behind early actually got within one run of New York to pique our interest. But Toronto flew the coop and lost 11-10.


I hate to play 'ifs and buts' but if this year's Foulke were last year's Foulke, the Red Sox be 6 1/2 games in front of the Yankees, have the best record in baseball, and each Sunday Joe Morgan would sing songs to national television audiences about this wonderful invention known as "Tito Ball."
Ok, so maybe not so much on that last one.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like this site? You do good stuff. It's become one of my daily must-go's

Thanks, Yaz, even though your name reminds me of a dark moment in Red Sox history. I'll pretend your name refers to him looking up at the 2004 championship banner he helped Johnny Pesky hoist.

Foulke's decline has been key. It's a good thing Boston is doing so much better in one-run games this season. I have mentioned before that I do not like having a changeup artist as a closer. I count the days until Craig Hansen is ready for prime time.

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