Category Listing
Monthly Archive
Baseball Reference
Red Sox Links

Recent Posts
Recent Comments
Essential Empy

Home » Category Listing » August 2005 Game Comments

September 1, 2014

One-Hit Wonders

For the third time this season the Red Sox were held to a single hit. This is the first time this has happened since the 1992 season, another dreadful season where the squad ended in last place in the division.

Will Middlebrooks broke up Jake Odorizzi’s no-hitter with a leadoff line drive to center field in the fourth frame. He came into the game when Dustin Pedroia departed in the second inning.

Pedroia was covering second base when Logan Forsythe’s elbow found his skull. Slow motion replays seemed to show that there was intent, but at regular speed it appeared it was a pure reaction play. Nothing has been said since the incident that has further inflamed these teams’ already tense relationship so the matter is all but settled.

In order to boost attendance at the Trop the Rays now host cosplay conventions simultaneously with games. The force must be incredibly strong in this Jedi. He can shoulder his lightsaber as if it were a fishing pole.

Star Wars nights are so de rigueur these days. Call me when there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy extravaganza. This cart should be manned by Nova Corps and girls with raccoon ears, not an illogical mix of stormtroopers and scout troopers (yeah, I went there).

Game 135: August 30, 2014
Boston Red Sox
0 L: Allen Webster (3-3)
No extra base hits
WinTampa Bay Rays
7 W: Jake Odorizzi (10-11)
2B: James Loney (25), Ryan Hanigan (8)

September 1, 2005


Game 131: August 31, 2005
Devil Rays (55-79), 6
Red Sox (77-54), 7
L: Casey Fossum (8-11)
W: Tim Wakefield (14-10)
S: Mike Timlin (4)

2.5 games ahead in the division
4 game winning streak

Fossum is the only former Red Sox player to look more scruffy away from Boston than when he was with the team. He even seems to have put on some weight so that he isn’t constantly adjusting his belt as he used to. He’ll always remember November 28, 2003, just as we should, because that was the day he was traded to Arizona, along with Michael Goss, Brandon Lyon, and Jorge de la Rosa, for Curt Schilling. If he had stayed on the Red Sox pitching staff, the team would have the highest HBP rate and would hold the top three positions in that statistic. So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Fossum hit Renteria in the 1st inning. Warnings were again issued, this time by home plate Tony Randazzo, because of the history between the clubs, which is ridiculous. Isn’t the proper procedure to wait until the opposing team also hits a player? The umpiring this season has been inconsistent and infuriating.

Wakefield, perhaps hankering to repeat the drama of Schilling’s game, gave up 5 earned runs in the first 3 innings, including 3 homers. The knuckleballer turned the screws from the 4th inning forward, allowing no baserunners for 16 straight outs. He struck out 5, walked 1, and gave up 6 hits throughout the course of his 8 inning appearance.

The story of the night, however, has to be Doug Mirabelli. To be sure, Kevin Millar silenced his critics, which are legion and include me, for one evening. The sunny first baseman showed signs of life by going 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and home runs in the 2nd and 7th innings.

Not only did Mirabelli hit a home run to lead off the 4th inning, but he got on base for each of his 4 plate appearances, walking twice and getting 2 hits. He topped Millar by stealing second base during Bill Mueller’s at bat. (That was not a misprint.) Jesus Colome held on to the ball too long to get the backstop out, despite the fact we’re talking Mirabelli here. Because of Colome’s hesitation, Julio Lugo mishandled the toss and Mirabelli progressed to third base. Mirabelli’s only other steal this season was also against the Devil Rays. If he did this every game against Tampa Bay, he could have steal totals in the teens.

David Ortiz did try to wrest away the hero of the game title from Mirabelli with his opposite field homer into the Monster seats to tie the game in the 5th inning, but that’s de rigeur for him. To be game hero, one must to something outstanding as well as unusual given expectations of the player. If Ortiz hit a triple, that would warrant consideration.

Going foward, I’ll be officially scoreboard gawking and showing the gap between the Red Sox and their division rival with each game comment. Say, do you remember, dancing in September?

And the days dwindle down
To a precious few, September, November
And these few precious days I’d spend with you
These golden days I’d spend with you
Maxwell Anderson
Knickerbocker Holiday

August 31, 2005


Game 130: August 30, 2005
Devil Rays (55-78), 6
Red Sox (76-54), 7
H: Chad Orvella (13)
L, BS: Joe Borowski (2, 1-1)
W: Mike Timlin (6-2)

Schilling’s outing was one-third Jeff Weaver and two-thirds Tom Seaver. He struggled mightily in the first two innings, giving up grandiose fly balls to hitters of all stripes and 5 earned runs. Veteran that he is, Schilling was able to settle down for his last four innings, allowing only a single base hit and no additional extra base hits. In his postgame press conference he stated that the 2nd inning may have been the nadir of his career and that he was particularly motivated to expiate his early sins. Shutting down the Devil Rays after they had pummeled him and keeping their speedy players off the bases was redemption enough.

The Red Sox began their comeback in the 3rd inning with a leadoff double by Bill Mueller, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Edgard Renteria doubled into the left field gap on a line drive that Carl Crawford intercepted just before the warning track, scoring Mueller and Tony Graffanino, who had walked to get on base.

Jason Varitek continued the barrage in the 4th inning with a leadoff single that shot through to center field. The blonde Kevin Millar, whose hair matched Schilling’s, followed up with a double off the Monster that advanced his captain to third base. Trot Nixon, the hero-to-be of this game, grounded out to short but Varitek was able to score and Millar even advanced to third on the play. Mueller, the unsung hero, brought the Red Sox to within 1 run with his sacrifice fly to center.

In the 6th inning, Graffanino showed that he was inspired by the Cobra Kai dojo from The Karate Kid with his technique. He stumbled while retrieving the feed from Renteria of a Toby Hall grounder, but still managed get Hall out with his cunning legwork. Sweep the leg, Graffanino!

In the visitor’s half of the 8th, Nixon hosed Hall on his attempt to score on a Crawford single. Apparently the Devil Rays catcher thought that hanging around with other guys that are fast rubbed off on him.

Johnny Damon pinch hit for Millar and led off with a walk in the bottom of the 8th. Nixon, the hometown hero and right fielder then doubled over Crawford’s glove with a line drive that bounced off the wall. Mueller then grounded out to first to score Damon and advance Nixon, and Borowski gave up his first run since becoming a Devil Ray on July 12th. Another pinch hitting substitution was strikingly effective when John Olerud took the place of Gabe Kapler to hit an RBI single to tie the game.

Both Nixon and Manny Ramirez came through with adept catches in the top of the 9th, particularly Ramirez’s, who backhanded Aubrey Huff’s fly ball offering after taking a bit of a circuitous route. With David Ortiz, Ramirez, and Varitek loading the bases, Damon came to the plate and lined out to shallow right. Dale Sveum, for once, did not risk his designated hitter’s life and limb and kept Ortiz at third. This set the stage for Nixon to line to right and drive in Ortiz for the winning run. If your game needs some fixing (not the Black Sox sort of fixing, mind you), you can count on Nixon.

August 30, 2005


Game 129: August 29, 2005
Devil Rays (55-77), 6
Red Sox (75-54), 10
L: Seth McClung (5-8)
W: Matt Clement (12-3)

Clement finally got early run support when Johnny Damon hit his first leadoff home run this season in his first at bat, on the 2-2, no less. Mike Timlin tried to do his usual “catch with the towel” thing with Damon’s ball as it fell into the bullpen, but bobbled it. David Ortiz, not to be outdone, lofted his 34th homer over the bullpens. Timlin didn’t even try to catch that one. In the 7th inning Ortiz would go on to hit his 35th homer as well, this one into the centerfield bleachers.

The early momentum was temporarily halted with a rain delay at around 7:35 PM. Yet again Clement is a victim of the elements. The game restarted at 9:16 PM, and Clement would stay in to earn his first decision in his last 3 starts, with all 3 of those games ending in extra innings. Clement finally garnered a long awaited and deserved win after pitching 5 innings with 3 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

Any benefit Kevin Millar gained from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” has been officially, irrevocably dissipated with his new two-tone bleach job and Dustin Hermanson-inspired facial hair. Now he looks more Sturgis than stylish. Do we need to call Kyan Douglas? I think it is advisable.

Wally the Green Monster is someone who will never be caught on the wrong side of the couture war. Right after the rain delay, Wally was gifted with a bespoke pair of Reeboks. He’ll have to resort to wearing knickers for a while to show them off, alà Damon.

The Red Sox defense has been snappy lately. During the hot streak there were games that weren’t won by fundamental play but by mere bludgeoning. I can’t recall any previous infield pair that executed a deke like the one in the 4th inning as well as Alex Cora and Edgar Renteria. Carl Crawford fled first base with the pitch, and the Red Sox tandem acted as if the double play was on, prompting the Devil Ray left fielder to turn on the jets. Trot Nixon had fielded Jorge Cantu’s fly ball cleanly and threw to John Olerud for the real double play and outfield assist. Damon did have a fielding error in the 5th inning on a Travis Lee fly ball, and the center fielder seemed tentative in his attempt because his cohort Manny Ramirez was in the vicinity.

The 5th inning saw another scoring flurry. Olerud led off with a line drive single off the wall. Mueller carried his hit streak into its 12th game, and unlike last night Don Orsillo carefully observed the fly ball just in case it may have had enough to clear the monster. The third baseman ended up with a double that advanced Olerud to third. Cora then pulled a grounder to right for an RBI single. Mueller tagged up on a Damon sacrifice fly for the 2nd run of the inning. Cora scored standing on Renteria’s stand-up double, the sleek infielders doing their best to keep each other’s togs tidy. After Trever Miller intentionally walked Ramirez, he threw a wild pitch to Nixon that scored Renteria for the 4th and final run of the inning.

Mike Myers earned his title as the international man of mystification in the 6th inning by getting out of a jam with no runs scored. Myers took the mound with Julio Lugo at first and induced a fielder’s choice to erase Lugo and grant Crawford first base. He then walked Cantu and was threatened with speed on the basepaths, a fact rapidly proven when Crawford stole third on the 3-1 pitch. With Aubrey Huff at the plate and runners at the corners, Myers adroitly handled Huff’s comebacker and tossed the ball to Renteria to get Cantu for the first out. The shortstop then turned it over quickly to get Huff at first.

In the home half of the 6th, Damon was hit in the hand sharply by a Miller pitch, but was then called out on strikes to end the inning. Fortunately, x-rays were negative and Damon is listed as day to day (but aren’t we all?).

Orsillo and Jerry Remy unleashed themselves on an unwitting public. This is what you get when a long rain delay combines with a blowout. The camera meandered into the Red Sox bullpen, where a blue floral bag sat. Rookie pitchers are made carry said bag to the bullpen as part of hazing. It’s kitsch personified, and I believe I saw a coordinating fanny pack next to it. However, if anyone can pull it off, Abe Alvarez can. Alvarez pitched 1.1 innings and gave up 6 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 strikeout, and 1 home run.

Could someone please help me find the key to the batter’s box?

August 28, 2005


Game 128: August 28, 2005
Tigers (62-66), 3
Red Sox (74-54), 11
L: Nate Robertson (6-11)
W: David Wells (11-6)

Time to retitle this blog to something a bit more accurate, like The Bill Mueller Pompom Waving Anarchy Cheerleading Faction. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention his 3rd inning RBI single from last night’s game, the one where he got thrown out at second base trying to get into scoring position. (Does mentioning something in the course of saying you’re not going to mention it mentioning it?)

Mueller hit his 8th homer (his 2nd from the right side of the plate) in the bottom of the 4th inning, eliciting this puzzling call from Don Orsillo: “It’s got a lot enough.” Admittedly, when Mueller is at the plate one doesn’t expect a home run each time, but Orsillo seemed genuinely surprised that the ball’s trajectory took it over the monster. Curt Gowdy was honored at the game and had just left the booth following his ingame visit. Jerry Remy deadpanned, “Good thing Gowdy wasn’t here to hear that call.” Then Remy followed with some sage advice for his colleague: “When something happens that’s surprising, just say, “Can you believe it?” and leave it at that.” Mueller scored twice and went 3 for 4, increasing his average to .303 and OBP to .380.

Mueller also dazzled defensively with two plays that had him ranging to his right to stop grounders from capering down the left field line, righting himself with his characteristic quickness, and then throwing rockets across the diamond to hose the runners at first base. In the 4th he nabbed Craig Monroe’s grounder and in the 5th duplicated the effort with a ball hit by Placido Polanco. Both times he assisted Wells by keeping the leadoff hitters off the basepaths. The third baseman did have an error in the 3rd inning when he threw a Polanco grounder towards Kevin Millar that knocked him galley-west, but the Red Sox offense would provide more than enough runs.

Today was New Hampshire Day at Fenway Park, so you were either living free or dying. World champion skier and gold medalist Bode Miller appeared in the pre-game, and something tells me that the Easton native would have gotten along very well with Mark Bellhorn. His big thing is that he used hourglass-shaped skis before anyone else. Hooray, technology.

Other fun moments:

  • David Ortiz shimmying a ground ball single through the shift after he bunted a pitch foul. The bunt may have forced the Tigers to realign defensively, allowing the hit and Johnny Damon to score.
  • Jason Varitek lofting an 0-2 pitch into the triangle to score Manny Ramirez in the 6th inning.
  • Ramirez goofing on Ortiz for not scoring on his double in the 7th.


Game 127: August 27, 2005
Tigers (62-65), 12
Red Sox (73-54), 8
W: Roman Colon (2-5)
H: Jamie Walker (10)
H: Craig Dingman (3)
BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (1, 0-1)

This game had me yelling like Gary Oldman as Zorg in The Fifth Element: “Very disappointing!” It started out promisingly enough with New England Patriot three-time world champion Troy Brown visiting Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy. Brown talked about his appearance on the Jimmy Fund tele-radiothon. Clips from his upcoming Dunkin’ Donuts commercial were also shown, such as him dancing with the Patriots mascot, Pat. He got bingo.

Sean Douglass surrendered three straight singles to Tony Graffanino, Johnny Damon, and Edgar Renteria in the 3rd inning. Needless to say, David Ortiz would probably find the righty similarly hittable, and, as if on cue, jacked a 3-run homer that hit on the top of the Green Monster. Not to be outdone, Trot Nixon hit a fly ball to center that had Curtis Granderson backed up square against the center field wall because it landed right on the top of the wall.

That Dmitri Young grand slam in the 4th almost went into orbit; it was indeed very close to being Ortiz-like. The home half of the 4th featured a missed call in favor of the Red Sox: Graffanino was actually picked off of first base by Colon, but was called safe thanks to Sam Holbrook. This call spurred Alan Trammell’s ejection by third base umpire Randy Marsh.

The top of the 5th inning saw three outstanding defensive plays, one by each Red Sox outfielder. On a Placido Polanco line drive, Manny Ramirez initially drifted in the wrong direction but corrected his route and extended to rob Polanco of a hit. Damon ran full bore and about 15 yards to catch Chris Shelton’s fly ball on the warning track for the second out. Finally, Nixon caught Ivan Rodriguez’s liner on a run towards the ball as threatened to fall in front of him.

Those plays were some of the few consolations in the game that saw the Red Sox blow a 6-run lead. The Tigers had lost 11 in a row at Fenway and were on a 3-game skid while Boston had won 14 in a row at home. Such is the nature of the game and streaks.

August 27, 2005


Game 126: August 26, 2005
Tigers (61-65), 8
Red Sox (73-53), 9
L: Jason Johnson (7-10)
W: Tim Wakefield (13-10)
H: Chad Bradford (6)
S: Mike Timlin (3)

This season at Fenway I’ve been to two games that I believe had the largest weather swings: the June 13th game of intense 90 degree heat and back-breaking humidity and the 49 degree, drizzly and bone-chillingly windy match-up just two days later, both against the Reds. But last night saw perfect conditions for baseball, despite what those Rolling Stones hooligans did to the field. The entire center field as well as parts of deep right and left fields needed to be replaced because of the damage caused by the concerts. I wonder if the Red Sox organization even generated any profit from the galas based on the amount of field repair required?

Detroit came out of the 1st inning with an early lead thanks to Kevin Millar’s error on Placido Polanco’s grounder towards first base. His miscue generated boos from the crowd, but as much as every nanosecond Millar spends on the field irks me, I won’t jeer a player on the team I root for. Even Millar’s 0 for 4 outing with 2 strikeouts and 3 left on base don’t warrant a Bronx cheer.

The 3rd inning was the offensive key for the Red Sox. Doug Mirabelli led off with a double that just missed being a home run. I was in Section 42 and could see Magglio Ordóñez fumbling to gather the ball. I went down closer to the barrier to take a picture of the right fielder in his haplessness. A drunken fan loudly opined on Ordóñez and Jamie Walker’s parentage and quality of play, prompting an usher to urge him to “take his seat and watch his mouth.” The fellow bolted toward the exit tunnel, tripping on the stairs in his haste and cowed like a scolded five-year old.

Alex Cora singled with a liner into center, setting up Mirabelli to score on Johnny Damon’s (who was wearing knickers, a change for him) sacrifice fly to right. Tony Graffanino also lined into center to single and David Ortiz walked to load the bases. I’ve been on hand for two grand slams this season (Ortiz’s on April 15th and Manny Ramirez’s on April 16th), and I felt fairly confident that I would get a hat trick with Ramirez at the plate. It appeared that Johnson was told not to tempt fate and threw slop to the Red Sox left fielder to walk in a run. Trot Nixon sacrificed to bring the score to 3-1, but Millar struck out to end the inning.

As for the 4th, I have no elucidation on the validity of the call on Curtis Granderson’s home run to right field, but the folks in the sections that had a better view gave the umpiring crew the home run sign each time a ball went into the stands foul. As such, I feel compelled to call out Randy Marsh, the home plate umpire who overruled Jim Wolf’s original ruling of foul and who ejected Terry Francona for questioning him, for making the incorrect call.

The Red Sox rallied in the 5th and 6th innings with 2 and 4 runs, respectively. The 6th was especially exciting with the leadoff double by Bill Mueller, Mirabelli walk, and most notably a Cora sacrifice bunt. Sacrifice bunts are probably more rare for the Red Sox, come to think of it. I’ll check on that and post the results.

John Olerud and Edgar Renteria both received warm welcomes upon their entry into the game, particularly Renteria. The fans acknowledged the shortstop for incredible road trip during which he edged his batting average closer ever closer to .300 and attained .350 in OBP. As for Jeremi Gonzalez, it was a homecoming he’d rather forget. Too bad, too, because without Gonzalez the bullpen would be in complete tatters rather than only slightly threadbare. Overcoming my initial unease with him and his odd spelling, I’ve adopted him as one of my supporting heroes of the season.

Be sure to check out Sam at Blue Cats and Red Sox and her coverage of the series. I’d likely go Sybil cheering for beloved teams playing against each other, but she somehow manages.

Sunset traces and fresh-grown grass.

I’m sure pitchers are already developing superstitions about not stepping on the “crack” in the grass.

Mere photographs do not do the sky justice, although the sentiment on the sign adds to the panorama. How I adore Bank of America’s low interest rates.

Dream of fields.

The radio-telethon’s goal of $2M was exceeded. Even if you missed this event, you can donate at any time by visiting the Jimmy Fund website.

I like to think that the bird prints in the concrete near my seat were
those of the bird that died on Jere back in May.
Fear not, friends, for it is properly and forever memorialized.

It will always be Burma to John O’Hurley. J. Peterman had some pipes.

The scourge of beachballs in the 7th inning. When Mueller was at bat, no less. For shame, woman. Repent.

August 26, 2005


Game 125: August 25, 2005
Red Sox (72-53), 4
Royals (42-83), 7
L: Curt Schilling (5-6)
W: Jose Lima (5-12)
H: Ambiorix Burgos (9)
H: Jeremy Affeldt (10)
S: Mike MacDougal (17)

As a starter, I like Schilling as a spokesperson for various charities. I’d hate to add my wares to the ever-expanding inventory of the merchants of misery, but the veteran northpaw’s first start since April 23rd left much to be desired. Schilling threw 82 pitches over 5 innings with 9 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, but at least no home runs were surrendered. The organization trusts Schilling implicity and without hesitation, and this seems to be creating an untenable situation. Schilling’s faith in his god and himself was well and good when his body was physically capable of rigors he demanded of it. But now, “[t]he falcon cannot hear the falconer.”

Gratuitous Bill Mueller feat: With the count full, 2 out, and 1 on, the third baseman hit a grounder that jauntily skipped by former Red Sox player and current Kansas City first baseman Matt Stairs. Also notable is that by the time the ball was gathered by right fielder Emil Brown, Kevin Millar was able to score from first. I’ll permit you to let that sink in a moment. Yes, you read that correctly: Millar legged out a run.

Since this game wasn’t particularly compelling, I watched the ‘Ewa Beach match-up against Lafayette in Game 28 of the Little League World Series instead. It’s win or go home for the remaining teams from this point forward. Unlike previous games in which the team from Hawai‘i outscored their opponents a combined 24-4, the final score was a tight 2-0 in favor of the islanders. The scoreless tie was broken in the 4th inning when Sheyne “Bubbles” Baniaga hit a 2-run home run. Baniaga drove in Alaka‘i Aglipay, who had reached on a walk. Myron “Kini” Enos (1.06 ERA) pitched 5 innings of shutout ball, stifling the Southwest champs. ‘Ewa Beach next plays the West champs from Vista, California on August 27th. The winner of this game will represent the US in the World title game.

I’ll be at the game tonight and will let you know if the new turf installed because of the havoc wreaked by the Rolling Stones concert meets my approval. Perhaps the Red Sox will market the Rolling Stone lawn just as they did the championship sward. Everyone knows, a rolling stone gathers no moss (which is entirely different from grass because it is a non-vascular plant).

August 25, 2005


Game 124: August 24, 2005
Red Sox (72-52), 3
Royals (41-83), 4
L: Bronson Arroyo (10-9)
W: Andrew Sisco (2-2)
11 innings

This would be another easy game, right? Johnny Damon was hit by a pitch from D.J. Jazzy Carrasco in the 1st inning after the third-year Kansas City righty got ahead with a of count 1-2. Edgar Renteria and David Ortiz both conspired to advance Damon to third. Manny Ramirez then earned his league-leading 112th RBI to put Boston ahead early.

Ignoring Kevins after they hit home runs is a Red Sox standard operating procedure. Kevin Millar lofted his 5th home run of the year in the 2nd inning. Ortiz machinated again by getting the dugout to ignore Millar as he made his way back to the bench after his homer. The ice was broken by Jason Varitek, who jumped the inconstant first baseman from behind to get a piggyback ride.

The 3rd inning saw the final run scored by the Red Sox, although many opportunities later in the game were squandered. Ortiz grounded into his team’s first double play of the night, but it was a productive 2 outs because it scored Damon. The Royals responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning with Mike Sweeney’s sacrifice to center to plate David DeJesus.

My requisite Bill Mueller mention: in the 4th inning he ranged to nab Emil Brown’s grounder and heaved it to Millar for the first out of the inning. Jerry Remy mentioned that Mueller is having a great year defensively and should be a candidate for the Gold Glove. Mueller has 9 errors while his counterpart in the New York AL team has 10.

Ramirez lunged at the first pitch he saw in the 5th inning with the bases loaded and 1 out to ground into a double play. Kansas City grabbed the momentum back from the Red Sox, DeJesus replying with a 2-run home run to tie the game.

The next 6 innings were a primer of disillusionment as both teams left runners in scoring position with startling regularity. The Royals loaded the bases in the 6th after Matt Clement hit Angel Berroa to load the bases. John Buck killed the inning by grounding into a double play initiated by Renteria. In the 7th inning, Terrence Long made one of his patented Red Sox-slaughtering plays, sprinting to catch up to Millar’s liner with 2 out and the bases loaded. Does anyone want to win this game?

The only trusted bullpen arms (Mike Myers, Chad Bradford, and Mike Timlin) pitched the next two innings. Bradford was particularly impressive by roaring back by striking out Berroa and Buck with inherited runners at the corners and 1 out .

Bronson Arroyo relinquished the game-winning run in the 11th. Former Red Sox prospect Chip Ambres hit a fly ball to Ramirez, who got the ball back to the plate almost in time to cut down DeJesus.

A frustrating loss, but still heartening to see Clement being able to go long into the game to give Jeremi Gonzalez a breather. Tonight we’ll see if Curt Schilling can reclaim his title as team ace.

August 24, 2005


Game 123: August 23, 2005
Red Sox (72-51), 5
Royals (40-83), 2
W: David Wells (10-6)
L: Zack Greinke (3-15)

Trot Nixon had his first at bat since July 26th, that fateful day when both he and Matt Clement were injured. Who would have thought then that recovering from potential head trauma would be quicker than a strained oblique muscle, but such is the nature of soft tissue injuries. I hope we aren’t seeing the onset of aging left-handed slugger injury syndrome, so poignantly demonstrated by Jim Thome, Garret Anderson, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Nixon went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a strikeout, reclaiming his place in the fifth spot that both Jason Varitek and John Olerud had ably filled in his absence. There were others that tried to bat fifth, but they did not acquit themselves as well, and since they were understandably not in the lineup, they will remain unnamed.

Despite illness, Wells shut out the Royals through 5 innings with a line of 5 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Jeremi Gonzalez continued his impressive string of middle relief showings, pitching for 3 no-hit innings, striking out 3 and walking only Chip Ambres, his former teammate.

Greinke pitched perfectly until the second batter of the 3rd inning, when Bill Mueller lined down the left field line for a one-out double. After Graffanino flied out to center, a cavalcade of hits followed. Johnny Damon arched a fly ball over Terrence Long to score Mueller, then Edgar Renteria lined his single into shallow left. Dale Sveum decided to test Long’s arm by sending Damon, who scored despite a close play. The Red Sox shortstop advanced to second base on the off-target throw, well positioned to score on David Ortiz’s line drive double to center field. Were you half-hoping for another bunt? Me neither.

Boston quelled the Royals’ hopes for an extra base hit in the home half of the 5th inning with a Manny Ramirez assist, his 13th of the season. It was an all-time classic deke: Ramirez slid to miss Long’s hit to left field. Convinced he could advance safely, Long broke for second, not seeing that Ramirez had quickly recovered to throw out his Kansas City counterpart to end the inning.

We are witnessing the Paul Quantrillification of Timlin before our very eyes. His 63 appearances lead pitchers in the AL, edging out Tom Gordon (who used to be a starter in Kansas City) by a single game. Timlin did get the final 3 outs of the game, but not without permitting 2 runs as well as initiating a spate of drama in the form of the tying run reaching the plate. If there is anyone reading this who happens to know Terry Francona, could you please convey the message that this abuse must stop? Send him video of Ortiz hitting a home run off of Quantrill in the 12th inning of Game 4 if necessary, superimposing the face of Timlin. I’m mortally serious about this.

August 21, 2005


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.

August 20, 2005


Game 121: August 20, 2005
Red Sox (70-51), 2
Angels (71-52), 4
L: Bronson Arroyo (10-8)
W: Ervin Santana (7-5)
H: Scot Shields (26)
S: Francisco Rodriguez (28)

Hey, at least it wasn’t Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. That’s one of the few positive things I have to say about this game.

Major league hitters, please stop hitting our pitchers. This isn’t dodgeball, mind you. And that applies to you, Mr. Orlando Cabrera, even though you are one of The Twenty-Five. I saw you hit Arroyo in the 1st inning, and don’t say you didn’t. No stuffed turtle for a week!

The 3rd inning began inauspiciously for the Red Sox starter-cum-singer when he hit Adam Kennedy after getting ahead of the second baseman 0-2 with 1 out. Chone Figgins flied out on the first pitch, and Arroyo was going to town with 2 outs and a runner on first. Kennedy managed to steal second while Cabrera was batting, a rarity for Arroyo as he had only surrendered a single stolen base previously. He walked Cabrera after coming from behind in the count to make it full. Johnny Damon had another awful fielding effort when he allowed Darin Erstad’s liner to skip by him, permitting 2 runs score. Recall that the center fielder had requested not to be in the lineup for a day game in the Metrodome because he felt he would be a defensive liability. This lack of self-assurance is badly timed since Adam Stern was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury today.

Edgar Renteria’s nickname is “Igor,” according to Fox. Is it pronounced “eye-gor”?

Lenny DiNardo, who filled the vacancy provided by Stern’s injury, pitched in the 7th inning. Terry Francona sanctioned too much leeway with the lefty, who gave up 2 singles, a steal, and a run before getting an out and the hook. Mike Myers replaced DiNardo and nearly got the second out but for a throwing error by Renteria that granted Erstad first base and advanced Figgins. Chad Bradford joined the fray and Vladimir Guerrero singled on his first pitch to load the bases. A wild pitch by the submarining righty to Casey Kotchman enabled Figgins to score the second run of the inning. Kotchman struck out swinging at Bradford’s erratic trajectories. The fourth pitcher of the inning, Mike Remlinger, got the final out by making Maicer Izturis fly out to center.

The Red Sox made it halfway back with a rally in the 8th. Singles by Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Damon, and Renteria provided the only Boston runs of the game, with Renteria earning 2 RBIs. With runners on first and second and 2 out, David Ortiz had the chance to be the hero again. He struck out swinging to end the inning, however.

This game’s folly was not being able to get baserunners. Rather than lack of timely hitting like the first game of the series, there was just a lack of hitting, period. I’ve mentioned how poorly Red Sox hitters fare against rookie pitchers, and this showing against Santana was no exception. I suggest ramping up the advanced scouting team to full gear to scrutinize this young pitcher, whom Boston might likely face again in the postseason.


Game 120: August 19, 2005
Red Sox (70-50), 4
Angels (70-52), 3
BS: Mike Timlin (5)
W: Curt Schilling (5-5)
L: Scot Shields (8-9)
10 innings

I had to make sure I was watching the correct game. Some team wearing Red Sox uniforms put on the bunt twice in the 2nd inning. Alex Cora bunted for a base hit after Bill Mueller had singled to lead off. A spirit must have then possessed Terry Francona and made him put on the sacrifice bunt call with Gabe Kapler at bat to move over the runners. I slapped the side of the television to confirm it was working correctly. Johnny Damon plated Mueller with a ground out to first base for the first run of the game.

Matt Clement was solid through 7 innings, partially dispelling the notion that he is unable to sustain his momentum past the All-Star break. His line comprised 6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts and was in line for his twelfth win of the season.

Before I go on about the game, I must say to Steve Finley, he of the $6M a year salary and .267 OBP, how dare you use “Tom Sawyer” as your bat music. Perhaps that is why you get booed. It’s not your 0 for 4 showing with 2 strikeouts, really.

The Red Sox extended their lead in the top of the 5th with 2 runs. Manny Ramirez doubled to center with a line drive on a 2-2 pitch. John Lackey made a wild pitch that allowed Ramirez to reach third with Jason Varitek batting. The Red Sox catcher walked, and John Olerud lined a double to center to clear the bases.

With a little better throw from Olerud, the bottom of the 5th would have continued the shutout of the Angels. Casey Kotchman led off with a double and would eventually score on a fielder’s choice by Finley. Olerud threw to home to attempt to get Kotchman out but his throw bounced before reaching Varitek. Making amends for recent sloppy play, Ramirez reached over his head to catch Adam Kennedy’s liner. With runners at the corners and 2 out, Alex Cora proved his mettle by diving to catch Orlando Cabrera’s fly out to end the inning.

The 6th inning had a little more of the go-go that the Red Sox usually lack, even though it ended fruitlessly. Damon beat out Figgins’s throw for a leadoff infield single and then proceeded to steal second base on a close call that prompted Mike Scioscia to complain. Mueller made an excellent catch of a foul ball from Darin Erstad’s bat, sliding near the wall in a way that evoked his gruesome season-ending injury.

Another interlude, this time with Steven Manganello, affectionately known as “The Coma Guy.” This atypical fan was in a coma throughout last year’s ALCS and World Series, missing the entirety of his beloved team’s championship run. Dan Roche, Don Orsillo, and Jerry Remy are straightlaced on Fridays now, much to everyone’s dismay. No Cobalt or coma jokes here, folks.

David Ortiz found Bill Welke’s calls at home plate a joke. He was extremely disinclined to agree with Welke’s view of the strike zone, which was capricious at best. The designated hitter struck out for the third out of the 8th inning and was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes. He made a demonstration at home plate by pretending he was a right-handed hitter at the plate, perhaps insinuating that Vladimir Guerrero gets favorable calls? Remy opined that Ortiz’s exhibition might get him suspension time.

With 2 out and 1 on, Francona called for Guerrero to be intentionally walked. Very few players require this particular tactic of intentional base on balls to put the tying run on, and the Angels’ right fielder is one of them. Bengie Molina came through on a full count with a bases-clearing single to tie the game. Note to Francona, or who or whatever is currently possessing him: see how rest improved Schilling? Please consider the same for Timlin.

Schilling pitched 2 perfect innings with 4 strikeouts to shut down the Angels and allow his team to wage a comeback. In the 10th inning, Kapler and Damon singled in order. Roberto Petagine batted in place of the ejected Ortiz. Petagine stood in the box for a marvelous 10-pitch at bat. With each successive pitch and foul off one could almost feel his confidence surging, so different from a comparable Kevin Millar turn at the plate. Watching Millar’s plate appearances, one senses mounting desperation as an undertone, and the scene invariably unfurls into an unproductive out. In contrast, Petagine walked to load the bases, and with 1 out Ramirez surveyed the field. Quickly down 1-2, Ramirez seemed to make the decision to judiciously drive in a run rather than swing for the fences. He took the fourth pitch, a ball, and then nubbed the fifth pitch just enough to score Kapler and advance the runners.

The Red Sox won their 17th one-run game (17-12 overall) and their 4th extra innings game. They have outscored their opponents 10 runs to 6 in extra frames, showing resiliency in late and close situations. Slowly they make their way out of the inferno (a place of random fireworks and exhorting public address announcers), through purgatory (although they left 16 in Limbo), and perhaps beyond.

August 19, 2005


Game 119: August 18, 2005
Red Sox (69-50), 4
Angels (70-51), 13
L: Tim Wakefield (12-10)
W: Bartolo Colon (16-6)

Circle 1, Limbo: Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon collided in the outfield, neither one of them getting a glove on an utterly catchable ball hit by our old friend Orlando Cabrera with 1 out for a double. Cabrera remained stranded to end the inning.

Circle 2, Lust: Designated hitter Casey Kotchman hit a home run on a 3-1 fastball to right field. The fireworks symbolize the desire that Angels players have for a fan base that actually understands baseball and doesn’t need cues from the ring of signs around the stadium to know how to react.

Circle 3, Gluttony: For a perfect picture of indulgence, see Bartolo Colon. Cerberus isn’t around to turn him into kibble, however.

Circle 4, Avarice: Arte Moreno, owner of the Angels, covets the Dodgers’ market share and has made every effort to lure fans to his stadium, including redundantly renaming his franchise. Is that Moreno futilely moving the boulders in the center field panorama? In the 4th inning, Bill Mueller made an exceptional catch to stop Juan Rivera’s ball from hurtling along the third base line, but as with most of his efforts after particularly outstanding catches lately, the throw was askew. It pulled Kevin Millar off first base to allow Juan Rivera a single. Wakefield recovered to strike out Steve Finley and force a ground out from Adam Kennedy, stranding runners at the corners.

Circle 5, Wrath and Sloth: Cabrera, who has only 4 errors this season, walked to get on base and then stole second base. His replacement Edgar Renteria mishandled Doug Mirabelli’s check throw and the Angels shortstop then advanced to third base. Ramirez muffed Darin Erstad’s hit to left by failing to back off the bounding ball that proceeded to roll all the way to the wall. After Guerrero was intentionally walked for a second time, Molina golfed a low pitch through the infield towards right, scoring Erstad. Kotchman drilled a hit that ricocheted off Wakefield’s right ankle and the knuckleballer had to leave the game. Wakefield did depart under his own power. Mike Myers took the mound and was promptly shelled by Juan Rivera for a 3-run home run. The Angels score an ominously symbolic 6 runs in the inning.

Circle 6, Heretics: Who else to represent the heretics but the dissidently named Chone Figgins, who led off with a double and looked less outclassed than he did in last year’s ALDS. Figgins eventually scored after being advanced on ground outs by Cabrera and Erstad. Myers somehow struck out Guerrero to end the inning, flying in the face of accepted wisdom.

Circle 7, The Violent: This circle was tailor-made for me. Give me some marshmallows and I’ll make s’mores in my personal gyre. This game made me as violent as when I see the McDonald’s poetry slam or Coke 1970s retread teaching the world to chill commercials. The Red Sox whittled away at the Angels’ lead, scoring 3 runs with 2 outs. Ramirez laced a ground-rule double to right field on a 1-2 pitch, followed by four straight singles by Millar, Mueller, Mirabelli, and Gabe Kapler. Terry Francona brought out Mike Remlinger to hurl, which is what the lefty makes me want to do when I see him on the mound. He allowed a leadoff single by Molina. Rivera’s grounder up the middle evaded Renteria’s glove, leaving Remlinger with runners on first and second with 1 out. He then walked Finley on 4 pitches to load the bases. Adam Kennedy flied out to Ramirez, but Figgins followed with a 2-run single that sprung past a diving Tony Graffanino.

Circle 8, Malebolge (for the Fraudulent): Typifying a fraud is Remlinger disguising himself as a major league pitcher, when, in reality, he’s both Billy Bob Thornton and John Ratzenberger. Think about it, you’ve never seen them in the same place have you?

Circle 9, The Traitorous: Tonight, the whole team belonged here. There were flashes of radiance: Mueller who hit a home run in the 9th and Adam Stern’s snatch in center of Erstad’s fly ball in the 8th stand out in particular. Neither of these things ultimately mattered to the outcome of the game, but they did make it more bearable. Fittingly, Anaheim ended the game with 13 runs. The Red Sox had 4, which is an ill omen in Japan because one of the pronunciations for “four” (shi) is a homophone for “death.”

Hopefully tonight the game will be a little less hellish and a bit more divine.

August 17, 2005


Game 118: August 17, 2005
Red Sox (69-49), 5
Tigers (57-62), 6
L: David Wells (9-6)
W: Jeremy Bonderman (14-9)
H: Vic Darensbourg (1)
H: Craig Dingman (2)
S: Fernando Rodney (5)

Welcome to Double Play City, population: the Red Sox. Boston was crippled by 5 double plays.

  1. Kevin Millar (shocker there, eh?) grounded into a 5-4-3 double play in the 2nd inning. Amazingly, the habitually slow John Olerud advanced to third base and positioned himself to score on Bill Mueller’s ground-rule double.
  2. Switching things around a bit, John Olerud grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to kill the 5th inning rally that began with a Johnny Damon leadoff double and a David Ortiz walk.
  3. Jason Varitek had leadoff with a walk and Mueller singled to put together a scoring opportunity in the 6th inning. Tony Graffanino snuffed the chance by grounding into a 6-4-3.
  4. Graffanino grounded into his second double play to finish off the 8th inning, this time a Pythagorean double play (5-4-3) like Millar’s. Millar had stunningly singled to opposite field to get on base, and Graffanino rendered the miracle futile.
  5. Even the most reliable hitters can fall victim to the twin killing. Ortiz grounded into a 4-5-3 to end the game.

The Red Sox did turn 3 double plays of their own, so it’s as if the Tigers were timesharing in DP City.

Wells lasted only 4 innings. It’s incredible he stayed in for so long given that he gave up 5 earned runs in the first inning. Let’s hope it’s only a result of pitching in the daylight with his sinus congested rather than a sign of Wells going Wade Miller on us. He ended with a line of 12 hits, 6 earned runs, no walks, 3 strikeouts, and 1 home run. The bullpen trio of Jeremi Gonzalez, Mike Remlinger, and Chad Bradford kept their team close in the late innings, but the early deficit was too large to overcome.

I’ll get to see a game in the final series with Detroit later this month. Amusingly enough, I, who never wins any luck-based contest, won these tickets in a raffle. The person who called me about my win said I had a choice between two games and kept on gushing about how lucky I was to get tickets because they were really hard to come by this season. Abashedly I admitted I already had tickets to many games and needed to check which ones I was already attending before I committed to a date. Strange how one can feel badly about winning something. With any luck, I’ll be feeling similarly wistful watching the Red Sox decimate the Tigers at the end of August.


Game 117: August 16, 2005
Red Sox (69-48), 10
Tigers (56-62), 7
W: Chad Bradford (2-0)
BS: Fernando Rodney (4)
L: Craig Dingman (1-2)
10 innings

Going forward, it’s “Jonathan Papelbon,” not “Jon.” Chris Snow established this in the pre-game show. I’ll miss the way the first name rhymed with the last syllable of the last. Another long-awaited (by me, at least) “World According to Mike Myers” aired, this time an interview with Papelbon about his first major league appearance. Papelbon talked about trying to zone out the crowd at Fenway, but how he wasn’t able to completely block out the roar. He never got the ball he used to earn his first strikeout, but Jason Varitek did give him a game ball. Myers talked about how he got on the internet to get the scouting on the rookie and prepare for the interview, but couldn’t find anything. Doesn’t Myers know about Sox Prospects? The righty listed his pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, and splitfinger; no change-up. Myers also talked some fluff stuff, asking the rookie about his favorite birthday gift, which was a trampoline. He got an add-on boxing ring for Christmas and would beat his brother up in it.

Speaking of names, is there any way a pitcher named Dingman could ever not get out of a game unscathed? He had a single win, and I thought to myself, “Self, that must have been a win over the Kansas City Royals, where the magnitude of their unusual appellations overcame the Dingmanity.” And, indeed, it was against the Royals, specifically Ambiorix Burgos.

Varitek supported his fledgling starter early with a 2-run home run in the 2nd inning after a Ramirez walk. It would be a long time before the Red Sox got on the board again, as Nate Robertson went the next 6 innings without allowing another hit, let alone another run.

Papelbon looked competent again, going 5 innings with 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He had nearly the same line as his first start, but this time with no home runs. He worked out of a jam in the 4th inning. Chris Shelton led off with a single, but Papelbon retained his composure and struck out the next batter, the lethal Dmitri Young. He fell behind Magglio Ordóñez 3-0 and eventually walked him. Most impressively, he went in on Craig Monroe, getting the left fielder off the plate but also allowing the runners to advance because the ball got away from his backstop. Monroe struck out swinging on the very next pitch, and Brandon Inge followed on 3 straight strikes.

Detroit tied the game in the 5th inning. Omar Infante started things off with a single and Papelbon hit Vance Wilson trying to give him the Monroe Doctrine. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco singled to center. Damon got credited with his third assist of season by initiating the rundown of Polanco. Shelton got a hit and reached second on error after Manny Ramirez fumbled the ball in his glove after it bounced for a single. Papelbon managed to get through the heart of Detroit’s order, steeling himself after walking Young by inducing Ordóñez to pop out to Edgar Renteria for the final out.

The Red Sox killed the 6th and 7th innings with double plays. The 6th featured a strike ’em out, throw ’em out of David Ortiz and Edgar Renteria while the 7th was a 1-4-3 suffered by Tony Graffanino. The Tigers pulled ahead with a Ordóñez sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the 8th. Damon didn’t even try to throw out Shelton as he tagged for home.

What’s the opposite of a “Grady”? How about a “Trammell”? Alan Trammell pulled his starting pitcher to bring in bring in his pseudo-closer Rodney. Ortiz, so used to hitting homers in Comerica Park since he acquitted himself well in the Home Run Derby, hit a home run to tie the game in the 9th.

The 10th inning showed the thinness of both teams’ bullpens. The Red Sox scored 7 runs, with both Ortiz and Varitek hitting their second dingers of the game. Although Mike Remlinger got his first outs as a Red Sox player, he crumbled to load the bases and give up a grand slam to Monroe. We’ve hopefully seen the last of Remlinger, and by the end of the season Detroit may have a new manager.

If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly; if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.
William Shakespeare

August 16, 2005


Game 116: August 15, 2005
Red Sox (68-48), 6
Tigers (56-61), 7
H: Mike Timlin (24)
H: Chad Bradford (5)
BS, L: Curt Schilling (2, 4-5)
W: Jamie Walker (4-3)

Johnny Damon looked awkward playing the vast center field of Comerica Park. In the 1st inning he went back on a fly ball hit by Chris Shelton and leaped at the wall trying to snare the ball. He landed without it, however, looking perplexedly at the warning track dirt and his fallen cap. Gabe Kapler gathered the carom and threw it back in the infield, but Shelton already ran out a triple. The Red Sox center fielder also seemed to give up on Dmitri Young’s blast in the 9th inning. Although it was unlikely that he would have caught it, it wasn’t implausible for him to reach it more quickly, enabling him to possibly make a better throw to third base to at least contest the triple by the lumbering Young.

The game started promisingly enough; Manny Ramirez led off the 2nd inning with what appeared to be a leisurely double, until his counterpart Craig Monroe decided to press him by throwing the ball to second. Ramirez raised his arms up after touching the bag, gesturing to Monroe as if to say, “What the dealio with that?” Ramirez reached third on Jason Varitek’s grounder to first, and then Roberto Petagine walked to position runners at the corners. Bill Mueller lofted a ball to center deep enough to score Ramirez. Alex Cora then jacked a home run to right field and all things seemed possible. This was true, however, for both teams.

The Tigers came lunging back in their half of the 2nd inning, and Arroyo fell apart. Monroe led off with a single to left followed in short order by Brandon Inge’s single to center. The Red Sox outfielders seemed to be unable to gauge exactly where to position themselves, coming up short on fly balls hit by light hitters while permitting longer shots by power sluggers to careen overhead. Omar Infante drove in both runners with his double to left, and Arroyo still had not gotten an out. Infante reached third on a sacrifice bunt, but was stranded by the next two batters. Detroit carried their momentum into the third inning, where Shelton led off with a liner to left that bounded into the stands for a ground-rule double. After advancing to third on a grounder, Shelton was plated by Magglio Ordóñez with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Two streakers took the field in the 6th inning. This is what you get when you play “Centerfold” during pauses of the game. The NESN camera crew have a special talent for selecting people from the crowd that convey exactly what is happening on the field, regardless of the event. One young mother held her younger daughter in her lap, covering her eyes, but laughed along with her older daughter at the spectacle. Mike Myers and other members of the bullpen watched enrapt. Don Orsillo barely managed to utter his favorite count after the incident, a giggle-wracked “The 2-2!” somehow escaped from his lips. Jerry Remy said that this act topped naked cartwheels along the base lines in Oakland. In the clip of the year, a woman took a picture of one handcuffed streaker as he was led up the aisle and off the field.

Despite the disappointing end, two plays by my two favorite players should be mentioned. In the 7th, David Ortiz hit a home run into right field, which happened to be his league-leading 18th homer on the road. Mueller made a great play in the 7th by nabbing Infante’s grounder that minced along the third base line. The third baseman had to make a split-second decision to either try to let the waffling ball go foul or go for the assist, and he chose wisely.

What made this loss most frustrating was that the Red Sox had ample opportunity to widen the lead on multiple occasions. The 4th inning could have been more fruitful; despite 2 leadoff walks and Mueller extending his hit streak to 10 games Boston only scored a single run. The 5th inning was futile beyond belief; how could such a potent offense only get one run after loading the bases with one out? When your first baseman grounds into a 3-2-3 double play, that’s how.

Schilling gave up a leadoff single to Placido Polanco and then a triple to Dmitri Young to score Polanco. Still a one-run game with the gutsy Schilling on the mound, the team would be okay, right? After all, these are the Tigers and these are the World Champions. But we got nooked when Nook Logan pinch ran for Young. Logan’s speed wasn’t even required since Ordóñez drove in Logan with a line drive to left for Schilling’s second blown save of the season. With 2 out, 2 runners on, and the count 0-2, Schilling relinquished the game to a utility player named John McDonald.

August 14, 2005


You might wonder how I go about writing a game post. Or not. At any rate, here are my incomplete notes (I was reading at the same time) from the game that never was and might never be.

Game X: August 14, 2005
White Sox (74-41), 5
Red Sox (67-47), 3
?: Orlando Hernandez (8-5)
?: Matt Clement (11-3)

One sock, two sox. White Sox, true Sox. How can you have the nickname “White Sox” but still have an alternate logo with only a single sock?
Adam Stern made awesome catch for 2nd out of the 1st inning.

3rd: Clement is looking bad. Gets to 2 strikes and can’t put them away. Hope this rain doesn’t let up.
Walked Uribe. Carl Everett single. Paul Konerko double.
Blum can’t make a play on fly ball played with the wind hit by Kapler. Rowand ends up fielding it. Blum is looking silly wearing sticker eye black rather than real eye black. Does he think he’s an NFL running back?
Stern gets a hit.
Cora hits off the wall.
Graffanino hits as well. Ortiz grounds into double play to end the inning.

Yay, Joe Silva, player’s parking lot guy.

4th: Home run by Dye.
Stern tried hard on a Blum fly ball, but the ball hit the heel of his glove as he dove.
Cora makes throw to 3rd as Mueller shifts over to get Widger, the lead runner, out. Widger is a former Yankee, so, ha.



Game 115: August 13, 2005
White Sox (74-41), 4
Red Sox (68-47), 7
L: Jon Garland (16-6)
W: Tim Wakefield (12-9)
H: Jeremi Gonzalez (1)

The centerpiece of the series had the White Sox coming undone at the seams. They seemed to think David Ortiz was the Boston version of Scott Podsednik. Garland threw over twice while Ortiz was on first. Evading the ubiquitous shift, Ortiz got on base by lining a slider over the shift in the 1st inning with 2 out. Garland’s pickoff attempts had Ortiz grinning more widely than usual. The lefty has obviously heard about what a terror Ortiz is on the basepaths, sort of like a 6'4" Ichiro.

Roberto Petagine, the Tom Brady to Kevin Millar’s Drew Bledsoe, hit his first home run in a Red Sox uniform in the 2nd inning. The last time he homered in the majors was with the Reds on September 27, 1998, but that was against Jose Silva, who had a career ERA of 5.41. Going yard on a 1-2 count on a possible Cy Young award-winner and team ace in his career year to break a scoreless tie is an entirely different matter.

Wakefield was on the verge of a quick meltdown in the 3rd inning, one of those episodes where the opposition suddenly pins 3 or 4 runs on the board. With runners at the corners and 1 out, the organist played “Call Me.” Who wouldn’t be inspired by the timeless words of Blondie: “Oh, amore, chiamami/ Appelle-moi, mon cherie/ Anytime, any place, anywhere, any way!” So cosmopolitan. Wakefield induced Pablo Ozuna to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play that required Tony Graffanino to adroitly toss the ball to a gliding Edgard Renteria, who nimbly avoided his counterpart Juan Uribe on his move to throw to first base. The seemingly choreographed sequence kept the White Sox off the board.

Chicago was faced with a similar situation in the bottom of the 3rd. Joe Crede, perhaps enthralled by the football preseason, spiked the ball like a quarterback into the infield on a Renteria grounder, allowing the shortstop to reach first. Once again eluding the shift, Ortiz hit a single to right field, advancing Renteria to third. Runners at the corners with no out and Manny Ramirez at the plate, the question is not if Boston will score, but how much. He singled up the middle after patiently fouling off 3 pitches and working the count full, plating Renteria. Following the clean-up hitter’s example, Petagine hit another single up the middle with a grounder that Garland just missed fielding. Aaron Rowand, a.k.a. Wakefield killer, couldn’t get the ball back to the plate in time to stop Ortiz from scoring.

After I had unfavorably compared Uribe with Renteria yesterday, the Red Sox shortstop showed his range to left by catching up with a grounder hit by Tadahito Iguchi in the 4th inning. He made several such plays, as well as the previously mentioned double play, displaying a skill that is lost in his unusually high error count.

Rain, rain, go away. Carlton Fisk visited the booth and spoke of the sundry honors granted to him since his induction into the Hall of Fame: Named the left field pole after him (I was at that game). Flashed his World Series ring at Ozzie Guillen. Posed for a statue for White Sox.

I thought about how I would tell the Aristrocrats joke during the rain delay. I tell jokes badly in front of people. How badly, you might ask. I would make Dan Roche look like George Carlin or Jerry Trupiano seem like Bill Hicks. I’m not so bad at writing jokes, however. What I devised isn’t suitable for this blog.

The rain delay got to Wakefield. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Paul Konerko and Rowand in the 7th inning, erasing the knuckleballer’s shutout. The Red Sox responded with 2 of their runs, but scored them in a White Soxian way. With 2 out, Bill Mueller extended his hit streak to 9 games with a double that clattered against the metal part of the wall. Graffanino then lined a double that hit the less noisy part of the Green Monster to drive Mueller in, and was in turn plated by Gabe Kapler with an opposite field single.

Alacritous Adam Stern made a great catch in the 8th for the second out by ranging all the way to edge of his territory in right field. He tracked down Iguchi’s fly ball, which would have landed just foul in that part of Fenway where a sliver of foul territory recedes into the wall. Stern had built up enough momentum to run into the barricade, but held on to make the out. That speed just needs to be harnessed and combined with some baserunning know-how and perhaps we’d have Dave Roberts version 2.

Remlinger was brought in to get Carl Everett. The bullpen camera showed him not being able to get door open. You could almost read his mind, “Hey, how does this thing work? Where are my damn bifocals? I swear, kids these days.” Just add in that weird whistle that the elderly sometimes have when they talk. He walked Everett, but did manage to get the count full after falling behind 2-0. Remlinger also pitched to Konerko, giving up a double to left field that Ramirez bobbled, permitting Everett to score. Curt Schilling had to be summoned to get the last out in the 8th with a runner on second base, and did so on 3 straight strikes. After Schilling gave up a leadoff home run to Jermaine Dye, he sat the next 3 batters down in succession.

What can I write about Wakefield that hasn’t already been said? A true Red Sox player, gritty, reliable, steady, a winner. He would have pitched more than 6.2 innings if it weren’t for the rain delay. His line: 7 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, 5 strikeouts, and 2 home runs.

August 13, 2005


Game 114: August 12, 2005
White Sox (74-40), 8
Red Sox (67-47), 9
L: Mark Buehrle (13-5)
W: Chad Bradford (1-0)
H: Mike Myers (7)
H: Mike Timlin (23)

Let’s start from the end and work backwards for a change. The Red Sox need a bona fide closer. If any other pitcher gave up home runs the way Curt Schilling did last night, his services would have been listed on eBay in a sham auction by now. But it’s Schilling, hero from last year’s postseason, he of the red sock, the great white hope of New England baseball fans, and therefore beyond reproach. Fortunately for him, he was saved from a blown game because of David Ortiz. Although he gave up 2-out home runs to Tadahito Iguchi and Paul Konerko in the 9th to allow the White Sox to claw within 1 run, Schilling was able to strike out Aaron Rowand to end the game.

The Ortiz 3-run home run in the 8th to straight away center field seemed superfluous at the time. But with Schilling’s shaky late innings, I will no longer take any additional runs for granted. Ortiz hit the first homer that rookie Bobby Jenks has given up in 14 innings of major league ball. Somebody feed Ortiz some applesauce!

The 7th inning was Cobalt time. Ortiz homered over the Monster on the 98th pitch to give the Red Sox the lead; so tantalizingly close! Buehrle looked sad because someone won’t have the chance to win a car. Manny Ramirez reached on an infield miscue between Konerko and Iguchi, and Jason Varitek advanced him by lining a single to center field. Kevin Millar stifled the potential rally by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play and Tony Graffanino finished it off by grounding out.

Varitek hit a 2-run home run with 1 out in the 5th inning to tie the game and ate applesauce in the dugout afterward. Perhaps one needs to take the lead with a homer in order to have someone else feed you the treat. Nonetheless, homership has it rewards.

Rising to the occasion of playing the best defensive team of league according to number of errors and fielding percentage, in general the Red Sox fielded better than recent outings. Bill Mueller got to the edge of the White Sox dugout for a near catch of a Joe Crede foul ball for first out of the 4th inning, but White Sox third baseman flied out to Gabe Kapler in right field on the very next pitch. Damon shave iced Scott Podsednik’s fly ball for the 2nd out.

Millar’s hit an opposite field single with 1 out in the 4th, and was almost thrown out at first after rounding the bag a bit too widely. His blazing speed saved him, however. Graffanino singled to right as well, showing that Boston would take the strikes that Buehrle would give them and go with his pitches rather than get pull-crazy. The strategy worked. Crede missed a foul ball, thrown off trajectory by the wind, hit by Mueller. That out would have meant 2 out with runners on first and second, but instead Mueller walked to load the bases with 1 out. Kapler drove in 1 run, but disappointingly it was the only score of the inning. Damon grounded into a fielder’s choice that hosed Graffanino at home. Then Juan Uribe caught Renteria’s liner to end the threat. Uribe should definitely get more acknowledgment than he does; he plays defense like Renteria used to when he was with the Cardinals.

Buehrle had a no-hitter until the 3rd inning, when Mueller lined a single to center field with the count full, extending Mueller’s hitting streak to 8 games. Edgar Renteria arched another full count pitch for a wall ball double. Ortiz drove in 2 runs with his double to right field with 2 out. Put that on the board. He gone.

And to think this all started with a Ramirez error in the 1st inning that led to 2 runs. Revoke a vote for him in the Gold Glove if you like, but I’ll take a series-opening win against the league-leading White Sox, if only to shut up Hawk Harrelson.

August 11, 2005


Game 113: August 10, 2005
Rangers (56-57), 5
Red Sox (66-47), 16 (should be 17)
L: Kenny Rogers (11-5)
W: Bronson Arroyo (10-7)
H: Chad Bradford (4)
H: Mike Timlin (22)

The Rangers series, which I’ve taken to calling the “Dumb Umpires Procession Extraordinaire,” or DUPE, culminated in a sweep by the Red Sox. This is the 9th sweep by the Red Sox, who in turn have only been swept twice. The season series against Texas ended in Boston’s favor, 7-2.

The last game of DUPE was highlighted by the return to glory of one Kenny Rogers, booed lustily by the Fenway fans. I wonder if the camera crews covering the event secretly smirked at the reception the volatile veteran lefty received. Rogers went only 5 innings with 7 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 1 home run (should be 2), and 0 camera crew members harassed.

The crowning achievement of DUPE was when Joe Brinkman, Bill Miller, Adam Dowdy, and Derryl Cousins drew upon their combined mental and visual acuity to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run. In the 3rd inning, Kapler hit a ball that ricocheted off the top of the ledge above the Green Monster. Despite a long conference, the umpiring crew incorrectly determined that Kapler had a double. I wonder if Kapler kept on running if he would have been granted an inside the park home run, because I don’t know how anything off the wall, as the umpires seemed to be claiming, would be a ground-rule double. We at least got to see a (hopefully recovering) Trot Nixon berating the foursome from the dugout.

A cavalcade of runs in the 4th inning granted the Red Sox a dominating lead. Manny Ramirez hit a 3-run home run, Bill Mueller had an RBI single to right field, and Kapler grounded out to plate Tony Graffanino.

Millar provided some comic relief when he went into his slide about 10 feet before second base, looking like a roped calf as he came to a dead stop without reaching the bag. I suppose he was practicing his Tom Brady slide to get the first down.

Ramirez upheld his bid for the Gold Glove by expertly fielding Kevin Mench’s hit off of Mike Timlin in shallow left to rein in the Rangers and close the inning. If the Gold Glove weren’t awarded based on reputation instead of actual results, he might have a chance at the award, supported by his league-leading 12 assists.

The 8th inning featured a Red Sox offensive outburst of 9 runs. The only players not to get an RBI in the course of the game were Jason Varitek, Millar, Adam Stern, and Kevin Youkilis, and the last two were late inning replacements.

Arroyo should keep the cornrows. He went 7.1 innings with 7 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts.

August 10, 2005


Game 112: August 9, 2005
Rangers (56-56), 7
Red Sox (65-47), 8
L: Kevin Gryboski (1-1)
BS: Chad Bradford (1)
W: Curt Schilling (4-4)
10 innings

Of course the pop fly that Alex Cora dropped in the 2nd inning was planned. That way, he got the speedy Alfonso Soriano out and the sluggish Kevin Mench on the bases. This team is always thinking.

In the 3rd inning, Bill Mueller broke the scoreless tie by lofting his 6th home run of the year into the bullpen. Could this possibly be a low-scoring game between the Red Sox and Rangers? Will it be a pitchers’ duel?

Edgar Renteria had the first of his two errors in the 4th inning when he booted a grounder hit by Phil Nevin. With 2 runners on and 2 out, Gary Matthews hit a ground ball up the middle that Cora flailed after, allowing the tying run to score. Not to be outdone, Manny Ramirez reached on ground-rule double to the opposite field in the bottom of the same inning, advanced on a Jason Varitek ground out to first, and then scored on Kevin Millar’s sacrifice fly to right field. Manufacturing a run, Red Sox style.

In the 5th inning, Johnny Damon looked a bit awkward as he fielded a ball hit straight to him by Michael Young. You might recall that Dave McCarty talked about various fielding issues back in April.

Ramirez worked Joaquin Benoit to a full count with 2 out and 2 on in the bottom of the 5th. He lined to center field to break the tie, and the Red Sox came roaring back. Varitek doubled off the Monster for another 2-out RBI, and Roberto Petagine drove in 2 runs with a drive down the left field line. That would be enough to win, you would think.

Mike Remlinger debuted in the 7th inning, leading to much giggling by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy. Apparently, the player the Red Sox gave up for him, Olivo Astacio, is in extended spring training. Remy deadpanned, “It’s August, and he’s still in spring training?” Remy also said the player to be named later wasn’t actually born yet. This was all funnier in media res.

You know it’s a bad umpiring crew when I can remember all of the members in the course of a series. Bill Miller, who was working second base, called Mark Teixeira safe when he ruled that Renteria did not catch Mueller’s assist. The call resulted in loading the bases with no outs, granting newcomer Remlinger an ERA of infinity. By virtue of the ridiculous criteria for determining pitching statistics, Chad Bradford was burdened with his first blown save despite not being responsible for his inherited baserunners. He was responsible, however, for Rod Barajas lining a double off of him to score the tying 5th, but final, run of the inning. Remlinger looked like a older John Halama.

Kameron Loe replaced Erasmo Ramirez in the 7th inning. Loe is from California, explaining his name. The Red Sox are the victims of another blown call, this time at first base by Joe Brinkman, who called Gabe Kapler out on his grounder to shortstop Young. Replays showed that the call could have gone the other way.

The 10th inning started off with the man that originally put Boston on the board, Mueller, singling to center field. He advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Cora, but the Rangers countered by taking the bat out of Damon’s hands by walking him intentionally. Renteria redeemed himself by singling to left field to plate the winning run. He was mauled by his teammates, a disturbing sight knowing that Cora would be his backup. Lay off him, boys; it’s exciting, but he’s needed despite his 22 errors.

Matt Clement looked again as if there were no lingering aftereffects from his accident of just a few weeks ago. He went 6 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He snoozed briefly in the 5th when he didn’t cover home plate after his wild pitch to Soriano, permitting David Dellucci to score and forcing Varitek into a foot race. But other than Remlinger and Bradford, the pitching continued to quell the Rangers’ incendiary bats.

August 9, 2005


Game 111: August 8, 2005
Rangers (56-55), 6
Red Sox (64-47), 11
L: Steve Karsay (0-1)
W: Jeremi Gonzalez (2-1)

Wade Miller had another brutal beginning, giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning. Miller continues to have short outings, this one lasting only 4.1 innings, in which he gave up 10 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts. He’s been reminiscent of Pedro Martinez circa 2003, which you will recall was the year he was still recovering from his injury. Ricardo Rodriguez had a similarly rough start as the Red Sox rallied to score 4 runs to take the lead, but Rodriguez only lasted .2 of an inning.

Anytime you see Miller start, you might as well pencil in Gonzalez for a few innings of relief. He shut out Texas over 2.2 innings, earning his win and neutralizing the formidable artillery of the Rangers’ offense.

In the 1st inning, David Ortiz hit his 26th homer, this time with Edgar Renteria on base. Someone must have given the Red Sox a baserunning clinic, because Manny Ramirez tagged up from second base on a Millar fly ball to left field. His heads up tag led directly to him scoring on Roberto Petagine’s grounder up the middle. Tony Graffanino hit Rodriguez with his comebacker, deflecting towards Alfonso Soriano and scoring Jason Varitek. Predictably, though through unpredictable means, the Red Sox took the lead right back in the bottom of the 1st inning.

The 2nd inning featured the full range of the defensive spectrum. With the bases loaded and 2 out, Petagine demonstrated atrocious fielding technique by allowing a ground ball hit by Mark Teixeira go right through his legs, allowing the tying run to score. Kevin Millar, someone you wouldn’t normally associate with acceptable defense, deftly maneuvered to rob Hank Blalock of an RBI-generating hit by placing himself in the path of a short fly ball to end the inning. By “deftly,” I mean rolling like a potato bug, and by “maneuvered,” I mean ungainly moving his bulk around the outfield. But he got his team out of trouble.

Graffanino was impressive in all facets of the game. In the 4th inning he scored on a wild pitch, another beneficiary of the baserunning workshop that I think occurred. With 2 runners on and 1 out, Graffanino hit a Monster seat homer in the 5th inning. He was intentionally walked in the 7th, stole second, and scored on a Johnny Damon infield hit. If the replacement second baseman sustains such production, Mark Bellhorn won’t be returning to the Red Sox any time soon.

Add nearly the entire crew to the inept, adamant umpire list: Joe Brinkman made a bad call in the 4th by calling Ortiz out. The designated hitter wasn’t tagged by Soriano, nor did he appear to be out of the basepath. The 7th inning saw Derryl Cousins call out Gabe Kapler at first for a seeming double play, but on replay it was clear that Kapler was safe. Adam Dowdy, late of the Pacific League, was on the receiving end of players’ dirty looks and invectives, but this is likely more a result of him being a rookie rather than how he actually called the game.

Alex Cora got in on the good baserunning dividends in the 7th by stealing third base, forcing an awkward throw from catcher Rod Barajas and enabling him to score. I had to rub my eyes and ensure my prescription was correct. Are these my Red Sox?

NESN showed a kid in the Monster seats that had a sign upon which was written “Varitek, hit one to the upper deck.” That kid thinks Fenway has an upper deck. A Jere “terrible job” to him for listening to that song that says that Fenway has an upper deck and believing it. Maybe next game he’ll wave some rally towels.

August 7, 2005


Game 110: August 7, 2005
Red Sox (63-47), 11
Twins (57-54), 7
W: Tim Wakefield (11-9)
S: Curt Schilling (9)
L: Joe Mays (5-7)

Terry Francona featured another lineup by dartboard:

  1. Tony Graffanino, 2B
  2. Edgar Renteria, SS
  3. David Ortiz, DH
  4. Manny Ramirez, LF
  5. Kevin Millar, RF
  6. Roberto Petagine, 1B
  7. Doug Mirabelli, C
  8. Alex Cora, 3B
  9. Gabe Kapler, CF

In the Royal Rooters game thread, I sarcastically stated that a fan had a better chance of winning a Cobalt than the Red Sox had winning this game with such a lineup. In the 1st inning, David Ortiz just missed a 3-run home run because of the blasted baggie in center and right fields. Instead, he had a 2-run double that plated Graffanino and Renteria. Copycat Ramirez doubled immediately after, and even Millar and Mirabelli got into the action by surprising hits to the opposite field. Shannon Stewart pulled a Benny Agbayani and threw the ball into the stands after he caught Alex Cora’s fly ball, which resulted in an error, a Millar run, and an advance by Mirabelli to third. Kapler struck out looking to mercifully conclude the 5-run inning. Perhaps I was wrong about this particular configuration of players.

I don’t usually like to proven wrong, but there are exceptions.

I would love to be proven wrong about Petagine. He had his first major league hit in 6 years with his 5th inning bases-clearing double, although he was thrown out at third base trying to get closer to home. He has only had 9 at bats, so once he attains about 30 or so perhaps we’ll have a better estimate of his value.

What is written on the brim of J.C. Romero’s cap? The lefty reliever tried to move Ramirez off of the plate in the 7th inning, going inside and high on Ramirez, making the left fielder duck. What Romero doesn’t realize is that this no mere mortal batter. For all we know, Ramirez’s response to the inside pitch may have been an overreaction to make the pitcher believe he was spooked. The very next pitch: opposite field home run. I recommend the following to be added to Romero’s cap: “Ramirez kills lefties. You are left-handed. Be careful.”

Both starting pitchers had career days. Mays allowed a career-worst 13 hits in 4.2 innings with 8 runs, 7 of which were earned, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. Wakefield had a career-high 11 strikeouts, pitching 8 innings with only 4 runs (2 earned) and 1 walk. My favorite Wakefield moment was in the 6th inning. After he had struck out Matthew LeCroy, the camera caught the knuckleballer grinning because LeCroy was so out of sorts his helmet careened off his head with his luckless swing. Wakefield sets the heart aflutter, as Many Delcarmen did in the 9th inning, but for entirely different reasons.

After adroitly sitting the first two batters he faced, the Hyde Park native walked Juan Castro and then allowed a single to Cora by Jason Bartlett. Cora, looking uneasy at third, made a throwing error that permitted Castro to take third base. Delcarmen then relinquished a 2-run double to Stewart and was thoroughly unhinged, permitting the bases to fill. Schilling was brought in to clean up the rookie’s mess, and although he walked in a run, he managed to get the final out of the game, avoiding the sweep.


TwingiftGame 109: August 6, 2005
Red Sox (62-47), 3
Twins (57-53), 4
L: Mike Timlin (4-2)
W: Joe Nathan (4-3)

It may have been for comedic effect, but in the 1st inning David Ortiz made as if to bunt on Johan Santana’s first pitch to him. The sham bunt attempt by the .557 slugging designated hitter was one of the few enjoyable moments in a game riddled with miscues and missed opportunities.

David Wells’s outing was 5 innings of Cy Young and 1 inning of Jason Young. Indeed, Wells flirted with a perfect game his first 3 innings. In the 6th inning, Wells gave up five straight singles, which generated 3 earned runs. If this game was a gift to Twins, Wells was the one who took time out from lunch (a big deal for him) to go to the mall shop for the present.

Manny Ramirez got the present from Wells and picked out festive wrapping paper in the top of the 7th when he grounded into a double play with 1 out and the bases loaded. He had Adam “Fiver” Stern wrap it prettily in the 8th with yet another patented Fiver foul-up. Fiver was thrown out when trying to reach second base on what looked like to him a passed ball from Juan Rincon to Joe Mauer.

Bill Mueller put a nice, bright bow on the package when he flung the ball hit by Michael Cuddyer over first base defensive replacement Roberto Petagine’s head. With no outs, Cuddyer stood on second with Nick Punto at the plate. The Twins second baseman laid down a sacrifice bunt that Timlin fielded with relative ease, and Boston seemed assured of an out with a runner on third. Instead, Timlin’s throw to first skittered by a lurching Tony Graffanino, allowing Cuddyer to cross home plate. Ballgame.

The Red Sox handed over the game gift-wrapped and without resistance. I like that this team is generous and giving, but this is not what I had in mind.

August 6, 2005


Game 108: August 5, 2005
Red Sox (62-46), 0
Twins (56-53), 12
L: Bronson Arroyo (9-7)
W: Brad Radke (7-10)

What the heck was that? Were the Red Sox feeling guilty for their recent spate of indestructibility? Is it not enough of a challenge to start the game with a lead, so they want to spot the other team a few runs to make a dramatic comeback in the later innings?

Except the comeback never came. Much like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, the Red Sox entered the contest with a lackadaisical cockiness. Despite Johnny Damon leading off with triple in the 1st inning, he ended up not scoring, a harbinger of ill things.

The Twins uncharacteristically went for the jugular, seemingly taking out their frustration at losing their All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter due to an injury sustained at Fenway Park on a hapless Boston team. Radke pitched what was his best performance of the year so far (7 innings, 4 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts) and the Twins lineup combined for 16 hits.

Arroyo’s performance was strangely reminiscent of the Derek Lowe start on June 29, 2004 at Yankee Stadium. With 1 run in, 1 out, and the bases loaded, Arroyo handled a grounder from Justin Morneau and opted to throw to second base instead of first. His throw was not close to his intended target, Edgar Renteria, bounding into the outfield to bring all three Twins to the plate. Arroyo pitched for 3.2 innings with 8 hits, 7 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.

Lew Ford is becoming a Red Sox-killer of Catalanottolian proportions. Whereas the Blue Jays left fielder is more of a clutch-hitting, RBI-generating threat against Boston because of his place in the lineup, Ford is the type to deliver daggers to the heart in the form of outstanding defensive plays and working the pitch count on the offensive side. He robbed Kevin Millar twice; in the 2nd inning he ranged to his right to catch what would have been an extra base hit and in the 7th he stole what would have been Millar’s 5th home run of the season. In the 6th, the replacement center fielder slid to intercept a fly ball hit by Damon. Ford went 3 for 5 and scored each time he got on base, even inspiring the Minnesotan crowd to a Merloni-like round of “Lews!”

The best thing about the broadcast was yet another Cobalt contest failure.
Remy: This is the worst contest ever. What chance do you have?
Orsillo: [giggles] Zero!

Which is what the Red Sox scored. Tonight the team tries to start a new streak.

August 4, 2005


Game 107: August 4, 2005
Royals (38-70), 9
Red Sox (62-45), 11
L: Leo Nunez (2-2)
W: Matt Clement (11-3)
H: Chad Bradford (3)
S: Curt Schilling (8)

The Fenway Park crowd rolled out the welcomes for Matt Clement who made his first start since July 26th, the evening of the game he was struck on the side of the head by a line drive. He was mentally at ease on the mound seemingly unaffected by his recent mishap. His line of 5 innings pitched with 5 hits, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, and no home runs was hopefully an indication of rust rather than any lingering malady. Before the incident, Clement had been giving up home runs at a quicker pace, and he stated he would like counter this trend.

Before the game started the Red Sox made a roster move by putting John Olerud on the 15-day disabled list and calling up Roberto Petagine. My estimation of him at the time he was signed was unkind as I thought he would be hot in spring training and fizzle out during the regular season. In his time with the Pawtucket Red Sox he accrued a batting average of .327, on-base percentage of .452, and slugged .635. He had 63 walks compared to 46 strikeouts, so he’s not showing the best knowledge of the strike zone, but the trade-off is is respectable home run total of 20 (compared to Kevin Millar’s 4). Petagine went 0 for 3 with a walk, but there is world enough, and time.

The Red Sox fell behind early when Matt Stairs singled to right to score Ruben Gotay. The 4th inning was a big one for the Royals, and not coincidentally Clement had his shakiest frame. He gave up walks to David DeJesus, Gotay, and Stairs to load the bases, and then hit Emil Brown with his first pitch. On the 2-2 count, Terence Long doubled to left to clear the bases and build Royals’ lead to 5.

As they tend to do, the Red Sox takes another team’s big inning and improves upon it, strengthening and conditioning for better shine and more manageability. The bottom of the 4th showcased both the Royals’ ineptness and the Red Sox’s relentlessness. Jason Varitek led off the inning with a base on balls and his team was able to bat through the lineup. Boston scored 4 runs, aided greatly by 4 more walks. When Varitek returned to the plate, it was the 120th time the bases were loaded for him. Unlike those previous 119 times, however, the veteran catcher cleared the visitor’s bullpen to hit his first career grand slam.

The sound and fury of the final innings resulting in a score of 11-9 makes it seem closer than it truly was. The Red Sox executed their 30th come from behind victory. This game was Yaz. Next they go for Williams.


Returning to the Kansas City Monarchs retrospective, I found an even better link for Muehlebach Field, a.k.a. Municipal Stadium. It was engineered by Osborn Engineering, the same firm that designed both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. The park was the site of the actual first professional baseball night games, started in 1930 with portable lighting and enhanced in 1932 with permanent fixtures. Five years before the supposed first night game at Crosley Field, the Monarchs had night games for several reasons, among them being to generate hype with the novelty of playing what was traditionally a day game at odd hours and to satiate their primarily working class fans’ demands to see their team by accommodating their schedules. Next time someone mentions the Crosley Field game, be sure to remember the Monarchs and their pioneering evening engagements.


Game 106: August 3, 2005
Royals (38-69), 5
Red Sox (61-45), 8
L: Kyle Snyder (0-3)
W: Wade Miller (4-4)
H: Mike Myers (6)
H: Chad Bradford (2)
H: Mike Timlin (21)
S: Curt Schilling (7)

Kyle Snyder began the evening with an ERA of 8.59 and left 3.1 innings later with an average of 9.24. Fenway Park can do that to a pitcher, especially one coming off a fallow year due to shoulder injury. Snyder’s biography stated that he is a switch hitter and that he lettered in basketball, swimming, and golf in addition to baseball. So, at least there’s other career options that he might want to explore should this pitching thing not pan out.

In the 1st inning, Johnny Damon was thrown out at home plate on a David Ortiz single to center, and this time it was not Dale Sveum’s fault. Damon seemed to think he could avoid Royals catcher John Buck’s tag, which came at the tail end of a precise throw from center fielder David DeJesus, and didn’t slide. Damon’s oversight allowed DeJesus to save, not a soul, but a run. With Edgar Renteria and Ortiz still on base, Manny Ramirez duplicated his multi-RBI effort from last night and homered for the early lead.

As Renteria and Ramirez both tracked Mark Teahan’s line drive to shallow left field, neither noticed the other in pursuit. Renteria’s gloved hand impacted with the slugger’s face, leaving the later with a bloody nose. Ramirez, still playing his role of superhumanny, held on to the ball despite the collision for the final out of the inning. Damon talked to Renteria as they left the field seemed to be saying, “Dude, that’s nothing! Let me tell you about this one time in the 2003 ALDS....” Ramirez left the game but the Red Sox shortstop was able to continue until the 7th, and had a key at bat in the 4th.

Emil Brown responded in the 2nd inning by hitting a 2-run home run. Team captain and designated hitter Mike Sweeney also homered over the Green Monster in the 4th inning, this time to tie the game. The game seemed to be shaping up to be an offensive battle with barrages of homers from both sides.

Neither team played well defensively, however. Jose Cruz, Jr. played a fly ball to the rounded wall in right field badly, leading to a Brown triple and a go-ahead run. Angel Berroa’ single came off of Tony Graffanino’s glove when the second baseman tried to backhand the grounder, which ricocheted off his glove toward second base. Renteria was unable to field it and the Royals took the lead in the 4th.

Roles reversed in the bottom of the 4th when Graffanino infield hit to shortstop. Berroa returned the favor by bobbling the ball and not getting the ball to home plate at time. Millar scored to tied the game again. Damon loaded the bases with a line drive that Cruz had to avoid as it flew over his head. Despite the earlier mishap, Renteria was able to fly deep to center and plate Graffanino to take the lead. Ortiz walked to load the bases yet again, but Kapler grounded out to end the inning.

Boston scored three more runs off of Royals misplays. In the 5th inning, Jason Varitek scored on yet another error by Berroa of a Graffanino grounder. Cruz, who reached on a single to right, advanced and Graffanino scored when Andrew Sisco pitched askew to Damon. These new guys impressed again, going for the jugular when other people slipped up. Bill Mueller hit is 22nd double of the season, tying him with Melvin Mora for 5th in the AL for doubles by third basemen. Jimmy Gobble’s flight went awry on his 2-2 pitch to Doug Mirabelli, which scored Mueller for the Red Sox’s final run of the game.

Even a guy in the luxury boxes to the right were fielding better than the Royals. He made a great catch of a Sweeney foul ball in the 5th inning, celebrated his triumph, and purposefully pointed towards the NESN booth to Jerry Remy.

KcBefore the Royals, there were the Kansas City Monarchs, the most dominating team of the Negro League. The Negro National League was founded by Rube Foster in 1920 in Kansas City. The 18th & Vine district was the epicenter of African American culture and life in Kansas City, alive with jazz and baseball, two of our country’s greatest inventions. The district has been home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) since 1997.

The Kansas City team was the elite franchise in the segregated era. When the ban on African American players was lifted, the Monarchs sent the most players to the major leagues, including Ernie Banks, Willard “Home Run” Brown, Elston Howard, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Thompson. Former Monarchs Banks, Paige, Robinson, “Bullet” Joe Rogan, and Hilton Lee Smith are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for their accomplishments.

Another notable Monarch was John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, chairman of the NLBM. He won two Negro World Series and five pennants as the manager of the Monarchs. O’Neil was the first African American coach, named to the position by the Chicago Cubs in 1962. He signed Banks and Lou Brock, two Hall of Famers, to their first professional contracts.

The Monarch’s homefield was Municipal Stadium, which also housed the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1967 and the Kansas City Royals from 1969 to 1972. Municipal Stadium was demolished in 1976, and all that remains is a plaque to conjure the memories of these former kings of the game. Their legacy lives on in the diverse, vibrant game we savor to this day.

August 3, 2005


Game 105: August 2, 2005
Royals (38-68), 4
Red Sox (60-45), 6
BS, L: Ambiorix Burgos (2,1-4)
W: Tim Wakefield (10-9)
H: Mike Timlin (20)
S: Curt Schilling (6)

Manny Ramirez has adopted the “Manny being Manny” phrase, absconding with a sign emblazoned with his new motto before the game started. At the beginning of this season, everyone was “turning the page,” and now we’ve turned a new leaf to leave this melodrama behind.

In the 4th inning, Runelvys Hernandez walked Edgar Renteria and David Ortiz, setting the board perfectly for Ramirez. Like my cousin beating me at checkers when we were kids by being crowned to return as a king to conquer my peasant pieces, Manny jumps over his inferiors with ease. His 3-run bomb to center field in the 4th inning kept his team in the game. It’s just Manny being superhumanny.

Democracies supplant empires and monarchies, history has taught us that. A nation of equals will overcome the dusty duchies and moribund that represent the dissipated vigor of royals. Tonight was no different. Despite Kansas City securing an early lead, Boston prevailed. All of the Royals’ RBIs were the result of former Red Sox organization players’ homers: Matt Stairs in the 1st inning with Chip Ambres and Mike Sweeney on base and Ambres in the 3rd with a solo shot.

Ambiorix: it’s a moisturizer, an herbal supplement, and a relief pitcher all in one! Tonight he actually increased the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles because he had me smiling and laughing in the 7th inning. Not as much as Manny’s sign hijinks, but what can compare to that?

Burgos started the inning by giving up a base on balls to Jose Cruz, Jr. in his first at bat with his new team. Adam “Fiver” Stern pinch ran for the newcomer, a fortuitous move by Terry Francona. Tony Graffanino singled to right field and Fiver was able to score from first. Honestly, these new guys are such suck-ups, doing all this productive stuff to get wins and things. Johnny Damon felt so intimidated by them, he hit an RBI single of his own to center, and Ramirez followed suit. Boston completed its 28th come from behind win.

Happy birthday to winning pitcher Tim Wakefield, who now holds sole possession of third place for wins in a Red Sox uniform, surpassing Mel Parnell. His 124 wins trail only Cy Young and Roger Clemens, who both have 192. In 7 innings, Wakefield’s performance comprised 6 hits, 4 earned runs, no walks, 7 strikeouts, 2 home runs, and pure class.

August 1, 2005


Game 104: July 31, 2005
Twins (54-50), 3
Red Sox (59-45), 4
L: Juan Rincon (4-4)
W: Mike Timlin (4-1)
S: Curt Schilling (5)

Digital video recorders are devices of the gods. I have Jon Papelbon’s major league debut, all 5.1 innings and each of his 7 strikeouts, forever encoded in 0s and 1s. He shut down the Twins in his first 3 innings, and ended with 4 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 5 walks, and 2 home runs. Throughout it all, he showed peculiar poise for someone who had never pitched a major league game. A single chink in his armor showed when he thought he gave up a grand slam to Terry Tiffee in the 5th inning. He didn’t overreact, but tried to remain stoic as he asked the home plate umpire for another ball. And for yet another reason Papelbon found himself happy in Fenway Park, because what would have been a homer in McCoy Stadium was just a long fly ball out in Boston.

The 4th inning was the frame of dueling solo homers. Justin Morneau hit one to to right field and David Ortiz and John Olerud replied with back-to-back homers. Jacque Jones also homered off of Papelbon in the 6th inning to tie the game. Bill Mueller’s 6th error of the season in the 6th inning led to the go-ahead run by Lew Ford.

The Twins threatened in the 7th inning when Tiffee doubled and advanced to third on a Jones sacrifice bunt. Mike Myers induced a ground out from Morneau and Timlin came in to finish off Lew Ford. On Timlin’s seventh pitch, Ford lined to right and it it appeared that Minnesota would pad its lead with an insurance run. However, Gabe Kapler would rob Ford of extra bases with a stunning catch in right field. Kapler took what he thought would be the correct path to the ball, but it began slicing away from him. He changed direction, like a cornerback, Jerry Remy noted, and made the catch to end the threat. Timlin also worked himself out of a bases loaded-jam in the 8th inning, making it a hard-earned win.

Kevin Millar tied the game in the bottom of the 7th with a sacrifice fly to the opposite field, scoring Olerud, who had reached on a fly ball single to Ford. He was taken out of the game by the top of the 8th because of a hamstring issue. The crowded stirred throughout the 7th inning, uniting for a chant of “We want Manny!” (Local 7 News just showed a clip of Manny jubilant in the dugout asking “You know what I’m going to do right now? I’m going to do like Rogers!” Then he went for the camera. He can be a comedian when he finishes his baseball career.)

It could not have been scripted better. The Red Sox were quickly down 2 outs in the 8th inning after Rincon struck out Kapler and got Johnny Damon to ground out. Edgar Renteria came through with a double, and Ortiz was walked with first base open and Adam Stern in the offing. With 2 outs and 2 runners on, Manny Ramirez pinch hit for Stern. The crowd was beyond hysterical, past insanity, more rabid than I have seen and heard them in quite a while. The only scenarios that come within similar spiritedness are when Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling would be slamming the door with a strikeout to end an inning against the middle of the opposition’s lineup. Ramirez watched the first pitch, a called strike, fly by. Rincon worked him away with a ball and then came back for another called strike. With the count 2-1, I was apprehensive; perhaps the time away had dulled his ability. The left fielder fouled off the next pitch away, and did one of his patented “gee, I’m lucky I made contact on that one looks.” On the 2-2, Ramirez grounded up the gut to score Renteria and the Red Sox took the lead to sweep the Twins out of town.

All is happy in the Hub until the next time Manny asks for a trade. But, if the result is another run at the championship, I’ll sit through any number of baseball soap operas. Just be sure to tell me when the Millar marries Manny episode airs, because I’ll need to program my DVR to catch it.

« Top « Home » Category ListingMonthly Archive


RSS Feed



  • Visitors to EE since November 2004
  • Boston Phoenix Best of ’06
    Phoenix Best
  • Blog contents, images, and design
    © 2004-2015 by Joanna J.M. Hicks.
    All Rights Reserved.
    Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.