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Home » September 2005 Game CommentsSeptember 2005 » Launch


Game 150: September 19, 2005
Red Sox (87-63), 7
Devil Rays (63-88), 8
L: Chad Harville (0-3)
W: Mark Hendrickson (10-7)
H: Jesus Colome (2)
H: Joe Borowski (20)
S: Danys Baez (38)

0.5 games ahead in the division

2 game losing streak

Here’s where you have to present some hypothetical situations to yourself to feel better. If you had told me that the Red Sox would be leading the AL East by a half of a game with 12 games left despite Curt Schilling making around 10 starts with a 6.20 ERA, Keith Foulke having a 5.91 ERA, and the pitching staff having a team ERA of 4.77 for fourth highest in the league, I would take it. Adding to the mix the precipitous decline of Kevin Millar at first base (comparing his 2004 to 2005 statistics you get .383 to .355 OBP and .474 to .404 slugging) and a slew of ill-timed injuries made me realize that although Boston isn’t in the ideal position for postseason contention, at least my team is contending. Heck, it’s leading the division. That’s something I need to remember as I peruse Red Sox fan message boards spewing negativity.

But my optimism about the team does not mean I can’t parse out blame for last night’s loss. To begin at the beginning, Wells couldn’t have selected a worse time to have a subpar outing. Following Clement’s atrocious performance, Wells lasted only 2.2 innings and surrendered 10 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout. In a pivotal 3rd inning situation with Aubrey Huff batting, Wells did not cover first base after Millar had made a fairly good play on the Devil Ray right fielder’s grounder. Jonny Gomes scored on the play and Wells was left with 1 out and runners on first and second. Terry Francona gave the lefty a surprising amount of leeway as Wells stayed in to allow 3 more runs to score and was only pulled when he walked Carl Crawford on 4 pitches to load the bases with 2 out. The bullpen had to be tapped for the second night in a row, but there was another arm to rely on with Craig Hansen being called up this afternoon.

Tony Graffanino was pulled in the 4th inning in favor of Alex Cora because of a strained left groin. The summoning of Hanley Ramirez yesterday now seems strangely prescient.

The Red Sox have come from behind 43 times this season to win. Cora reminded us of this with his fly ball triple to center field to tie the game in the top of the 4th. Chad Harville gave up a leadoff double to Gomes, who would eventually be driven in by a Huff ground out to return the lead back to the Devil Rays.

Hansen made his major league debut in the 5th inning. His first pitch was a 96 MPH strike to Toby Hall, who struck out whiffing on Hansen’s 5th pitch. The righty then induced a pop out to Edgar Renteria from Damon Hollins, but not after 9-hole hitter fouled off 3 pitches in a row. Finally, Hansen struck out Julio Lugo to end his perfect inning. He didn’t face the meat of the lineup, but comported himself well given that he came into a game with a one-run margin.

Johnny Damon did not come through for rookie pitcher Jonathan Papelbon in the 6th. The center fielder was in position to make a catch on Carl Crawford’s fly ball for the inning’s first out, but Damon did not make the play and the official scorer actually credited Crawford with a double. The miscue proved costly when Jorge Cantu hit a 2-run round-tripper on the first pitch he saw from Papelbon. Remarkably, Papelbon weathered the shoddy defense to sit down the next three batters in a row, striking out two of them.

A glimmer of life manifested itself in the 7th inning, and who else but David Ortiz would provide the hope for a comeback. Adam Hyzdu reached base on a single to leadoff the inning but was erased on a force out. Damon and Edgar Renteria were on base to score on the fly ball that Ortiz drove into the gap in right field. Ortiz’s 2-run double cut the lead to 1 run.

The bottom of the 7th inning required defensive heroics. With 1 on second base and 1 out, Cora hustled to stop Travis Lee’s grounder from getting into the outfield. The second baseman saved a run and kept double play in order with his efforts. I’ve never seen a second baseman like him; Cora makes plays, but doesn’t necessarily do it elegantly. He’s no Roberto Alomar with his awkward pursuits of grounders, but Cora nonetheless completes the play. Cora was the pivot man in Julio Lugo double play induced by Chad Bradford to end the inning.

For me, the 8th and 9th innings summarized everything that is encouraging though frustrating about this team. On the hit and run, the usually consistent and reliable John Olerud failed to make contact and the end result was a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play to end the inning.

Renteria committed his 29th error of the season, the highest error total of his career, in the bottom of the 8th. His blunder of Gomes’s grounder allowed Crawford to score to pad the Tampa Bay lead to 2 runs. Manny Ramirez had his 16th outfield assist when he threw Gomes out at the plate thanks to Varitek blocking home.

Of course Ortiz came through by launching a home run in the 9th high into the right field seats. But it was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing since there was no one on base. The Red Sox one-run game record is now 25-15.

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