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Home » April 2006 Game CommentsApril 2006 » Duple


Game 14: April 18, 2006
Devil Rays (7-7), 4
Red Sox (10-4), 7
BS: Scott Dunn (1)
L: Ruddy Lugo (0-1)
BS, W: Mike Timlin (1, 2-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (7)

It was a night of defensive marvels that one doesn’t usually expect from a Red Sox/Devil Rays match-up. Jerry Remy was amazed by the defensive alignment Joe Maddon devised for David Ortiz. The Tampa Bay field manager had four outfielders and also had his second baseman fairly deep in right field. Remy could only recall a similar blueprint for Jim Rice, but reversed for the right-handed hitter.

Ortiz’s strategy to beat the shift in the third inning? With two outs, he slammed a wallball double. The Red Sox designated hitter was driven in by Manny Ramirez’s liner that just inched past Carl Crawford’s glove. Ramirez also notched two more RBIs in the seventh inning in response to Tampa Bay taking the lead at the top of the inning. With runners on second and third with two out, Ramirez’s liner bounced off of right fielder Russell Branyan’s glove and was ruled a single.

I wonder how Ruddy Lugo got his job? He’s not related to anyone famous, is he? Julio Lugo’s younger brother entered the game in the bottom of the eighth after his team had tied the game in the top of the inning. He quickly gave up a wallball double to Mike Lowell and walked pinch-hitter Trot Nixon on five pitches. The younger Lugo then left the game with runners on first and second with no out for Chad Orvella, who was just recalled from the triple A Durham and is one of the few potential bright spots in the Devil Rays bullpen.

Adam Stern attempted a sacrifice bunt to advance the men on base but ended up deleting Lowell from the equation. Alex Gonzalez put up a fight against Orvella by fouling away four pitches but struck out swinging. The stage was set for Kevin Youkilis, who had grounded out in his first two at bats but then singled and walked. He jetted the ball off the Monster more towards center than left field to drive in two runs for the lead. Mark Loretta singled a grounder into the opposite field to plate Youkilis, tacking on another run.

The Red Sox did not record an error in the game, continuing to play crisply on the field. In the fifth, Ramirez played the wall with his usual aplomb, catching the carom of Toby Hall’s fly ball off the wall barehanded and returning it to the infield rapidly, limiting the Devil Rays catcher to a single. Hall was then thrown out at second by Jason Varitek on a failed hit and run play. Clement also fielded his position well in the seventh. He fielded a Joey Gathright ground ball Clement wisely opted to get Tomas Perez out at second, which both reduced the risk of a close play at first base and erased the runner from scoring position.

Despite the outstanding play of the defense, a potential weakness in the bullpen was exposed. Mike Timlin blew the first save for Boston this season in the eighth inning. He walked Travis Lee on four straight pitches and gave up doubles to Jonny Gomes and Branyan, who tied the scored 4-4 with his RBI double. Hopefully Timlin’s shaky outing won’t be indicative of future performance or a sign of veteran pitcher being overused.

One can’t speak of defense without mentioning the defensive play of the game, and according to my opinion of not ESPN’s, the Web Gem of the night. Jonathan Papelbon was in danger of blowing his first save of the year. After striking out Gathright on three pitches, Papelbon allowed Crawford to reach on a single up the middle. The young closer also struck out Jorge Cantu, but not after throwing nine pitches to the persistent second baseman and also allowing Crawford to reach second. Lee then walked on 10 pitches and Gomes on five to load the bases. Damon Hollis, who came into the game in the eighth as a pinch runner, fell behind 0-2 in the count before winging the ball into shallow center for what appeared to be a certain hit. Center fielder Stern had other plans, however, diving for the cambering ball just before it touched the turf.

Instead of this brilliant catch to save the game, however, ESPN opted to highlight Johnny Damon’s collisions with the outfield wall. Go figure. It’s probably just an effort to stoke the flames of the rivalry.


Stern was a little miffed at the slight. After all, his catch won the game, while Damon succeeded in mashing his face into a Julia Louis Dreyfus flatness. And then there was Wednesday's game, when Adam got a face-full. If only he could hit, Joanna.

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