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Home » April 2006 Game CommentsApril 2006 » Broom


Game 6: April 9, 2006
Red Sox (5-1), 4
Orioles (2-4), 1
W: Tim Wakefield (1-1)
H: Mike Timlin (3)
H: Keith Foulke (1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (3)
L: Rodrigo Lopez (1-1)

The final game of the series did not begin well for the Red Sox despite the strong presence of their fans in Camden Park’s stands. After Rodrigo Lopez sat the first third of the lineup in order, Mark Loretta kicked off the bottom half of the inning with his first error of the season. The second baseman came up to early on David Newhan’s grounder which skittered through his legs. Newhan then swiped second, the typical plan of attack with a knuckleballer on the mound. Luis Matos lifted a pitch deep enough into right field for Newhan to advance to third.

Tim Wakefield may have been having nightmares of his Texas start after hitting Melvin Mora and watching Miguel Tejada’s abrupt liner dart into center to score Newhan. Even though Josh Bard mimicked Trot Nixon’s tribal eye black pattern, the backstop did not copy Nixon’s bearing. This time around Bard was much more composed, his demeanor almost as relaxed as it was in spring training. The catcher garnered the second out of the first inning with a basket catch of Jay Gibbons’s pop fly near the brick wall. Said wall had a run-in with Jason Varitek yesterday, but x-rays were negative. Rally-killing Kevin Millar carried over his methods to the Orioles with his fly out to center field to end the inning.

Wakefield earned his first quality start and win of the year, pitching for six innings with five hits, one run, no earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. He was tested in the sixth inning after allowing a leadoff double to Ramon Hernandez and a single by Chris Gomez. With runners on the corners and no out, Wakefield proceeded to strike out Corey Patterson, Newhan, and Matos in order.

Although David Ortiz did not drive in a run, it was gratifying to see him ground a ball through the shift in the fourth inning. He urged the ball between the third baseman and second base, proving that above all he is a hitter, not merely a slugger.

Boston scored at last in the fifth inning, precipitated by J.T. Snow’s leadoff single which could have been a double. Bard shot a single past the middle infielders for his first hit as a Red Sox player to advance Snow. Alex Gonzalez perfectly executed a sacrifice bunt to move his both his teammates into scoring position, a tactic that probably had Red Sox fans doing a double take. The circumstances of the game, however (irksome pitcher, trailing by one, weak hitter at the plate, and no out), dictated such a strategy.

Adam Stern, starting in place of the possibly injured Coco Crisp, cracked a single into right field, plating Snow to tie the game. Baltimore second baseman Gomez snared a liner hit by Loretta for the second out of the fifth, but then errantly threw to first. Bard, attentive to the situation, tagged up to give his team the lead.

The pitcher Lopez earned his distinction as a Red Sox killer, but no one clued home plate umpire Derryl Cousins to this fact. The righty disagreed with Cousins’s calls and permitted the discordance affect his pitching. Lopez walked Nixon and Snow in the sixth, but seemed to be back on track when he induced Bard to hit a grounder to erase the runner at second base. With runners at the corners and two out, Lopez walked Gonzalez to load the bases, a certain sign of nerves.

Millar bobbled Stern’s infield poke and what should have been an easy out was instead converted into another run. The Red Sox further increased their lead to three runs with Loretta’s soft opposite field liner to drive in Bard.

The sweep of the Orioles was not without its difficulties. After two quick outs in the seventh, Mike Timlin got into a jam by allowing a Gibbons single and Millar walk to crowd the bases, but then dispatched hot-hitting Ramon Hernandez. Keith Foulke’s eighth inning effort was heartening and uneventful from an offensive standpoint; he struck out both pinch hitter Brian Roberts and Patterson and then forced Newhan to line out to first.

The same could not be said for Jonathan Papelbon’s showing. Despite complications including a leadoff double by Matos, hitting Tejada with a pitch, and falling behind in the count of every batter except Millar, Papelbon endured to earn his third save and secured the sweep.

It may have been too soon to anoint Papelbon the closer. I’m sure WEEI will have a field day with the brewing “closer controversy,” but having more than a one viable bullpen option from which to choose is a benefit as long as egos are checked in at the clubhouse door.

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