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Home » April 2006 Game CommentsApril 2006 » Habitat


Game 7: April 11, 2006
Blue Jays (3-4), 3
Red Sox (6-1), 5
L: Josh Towers (0-2)
W: Josh Beckett (2-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (4)

Josh versus Josh. Ah yes, it calls to mind the epic battle of the Jeremies (Jeremae?) last May.

The home opener paid homage to the 1946 American League Championship team. Six members of that team, Bobby Doerr, Dave “Boo” Ferriss, Don Gutteridge, Eddie Pellagrini, Johnny Pesky, and Charlie Wagner, threw out the first pitch of the game. All the members of that team had their names on banners festooning the park. There are many renovations to Fenway Park that I’ll get to see in person this Thursday for my first game of the season. I can’t wait to get a picture of the new façade and update the banner to this site.

Josh Beckett’s second start was a near carbon copy of his Texas debut. In press conferences, Beckett does not admit to any psychological effect of playing in either the fervent atmosphere of Fenway Park or the heightened profile of the Red Sox. Four of the first six hitters faced working full counts seem to indicate an overabundance of adrenaline. But when speaking of his outings, Beckett is preternaturally in control, just as he can be on the mound.

The young righty got Russ Adams to ground out easily enough but then proceeded to walk three batters and mixed in a single to Vernon Wells. One of the walks came with the bases loaded, scoring Frank Catalanotto. It was the only run Beckett gave up in his seven innings. Two of the three hits against Beckett were singles, and the third was a gift double due to Trot Nixon’s misplay in right field. Due in part to home plate Jerry Layne’s tight strike zone, Beckett walked four batters and struck out only two.

One can always rely on Shea Hillenbrand for a timely double play. The Blue Jays designated hitter grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end Beckett’s shaky first inning. The fourth inning witnessed an even better 4-6-3 inning-ending twin killing. Mark Loretta leapt, Pokeyesque, in an attempt to snare a liner off Bengie Molina’s bat. Unable to snare the ball, Loretta alley ooped in Alex Gonzalez’s area. The shortstop had the wherewithal to scoop the ball, scamper towards second base, slide his foot across the bag, and then promptly jettison the ball to Kevin Youkilis at first. Youkilis had to execute a semi-split to complete the double play.

Trot Nixon pulled his groin during the game and will be out of the lineup for the next five to seven days. It may have been in the second inning when he displayed ill-considered judgment when tracking Aaron Hill’s fly ball, resulting in an inopportune face plant in right field and the only extra base hit yielded by Beckett. In the bottom of the inning Nixon took the plate (with his equilibrium-enhancing double ear flaps), walked, advanced to second on Jason Varitek’s up the middle single, and scored on Mike Lowell’s wallball double, all the while not betraying any evidence of an injury.

Adam Stern and Youkilis (Coco Crisp’s replacement in the leadoff spot) both doubled in the bottom of the second to give the Red Sox a lead they would not surrender. Boston scored again in the seventh inning, when David Ortiz dispatched yet another ball into the right field seats. He’s a home run ball souvenir factory.

In the eight, Keith Foulke acted as the set-up guy for Jonathan Papelbon. All would have gone smoothly had Wily Mo Peña cleanly fielded Catalanotto’s fly ball for the second out of the inning. Fenway Park is many things: a receptacle of history, a place of leisure, a site much storied and even more beloved. And yet it spurns the very players who call it home. Any outfielder in Fenway can relate his frustrations over playing on such an incongruous field.

Of course Peña was not completely at the whim of the field’s idiosyncrasies. He jumped, not perfectly timed like Loretta, but early. He floundered with his glove, not in foul ground as Youkilis did with Hillenbrand’s pop fly, but near the bullpens, and didn’t recover. The two-run homer did not cost the game. Fans seem forgiving of Beckett’s early inning infirmity; some of that clemency should be extended to Peña. Perhaps all he needs is some of that Papa Jack magic.

Peña gloved the final out. There is hope.


Randomly- did you see the new Sports Guy mailbag? There's a bit about Hawaii.

I clicked on the link. I don't know what's up with Keith Verrier, but the Yankee propaganda machine spews its malfeasance far and wide, even to the most isolated land masses on earth.

Please know that Keith in no way represents all people from Hawai'i. This has been a public service announcement from Concerned Citizens of EE.

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