Game 66: June 17, 2006
Red Sox (38-28), 5
Braves (30-39), 3
W: Josh Beckett (8-3)
H: Manny Delcarmen (2)
H: Julian Tavarez (1)
H: Javier Lopez (1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (22)
L: Lance Cormier (2-2)
Braves fans really get into the game... when they are out-numbered by the visiting team’s fans and shown up in their own house. Never has the perfunctory and derogatory chanting reached such levels, not even during all of Atlanta’s playoff appearances. Even John Smoltz, who was miked up by Fox, noted the prevalence of Red Sox fans in the Turner Field stands. When Kevin Youkilis launched a leadoff homer in the first inning, those weren’t boos.
Lou Piniella was the color commentator for the game, a job that seemed to be described to him as “just repeat what the play-by-play guy says but in your grizzled jock voice.” When Jason Varitek missed a foul pop fly near the plate, Piniella opined that someone should get an error on the play. He did later note that Varitek missed the ball because he tripped on the discarded bat, but still maintained that David Ortiz should have taken control of the situation. I suppose it’s because a guy like Ortiz, who started 13 times at first base the last two years, has a lot of credibility on the field.
Generic play-by-play guy said that Bruce Froemming once ejected the entire press box in a minor league game he was officiating. Supposedly it was because the media members were disdainful of Froemming’s calls, but more than likely it was because Froemming feared they would completely consume the postgame spread.
With slumping left fielder Manny Ramirez out of the lineup for the fourth time this year, the Red Sox received contributions from the usual suspects as well as some unpredictable sources. Ortiz drove in a run in the third and homered in the fifth, making up for the lack of Manny Ramirez. Trot Nixon batted in his place, going 1 for 5 with an RBI. Josh Beckett singled in the fourth to plate Alex Gonzalez, who had reached on a double that shunned the mitt of Braves left fielder Matt Diaz.
Beckett quelled worries of his recent rickety starts with a six inning, three hit, two earned run, four walk, and five strikeout outing. He threw 105 pitches, of which 56 were for strikes. The Boston bullpen tandemed for three outings of effective hurling with only Julian Tavarez having a run scored against him. Indicative of how the season is going for Tavarez, this was his first hold in 28 appearances. There was a moment of confusion as Terry Francona went to swap Manny Delcarmen for Tavarez as Javier Lopez made for the mound instead. That’s what happens when you’re the new guy. His security badge hasn’t even been activated and he has to follow Mike Timlin around to get through checkpoints.
No one could mistake the muscular physique of Gabe Kapler, who returned to the big league club on Friday, with anyone else. Well, perhaps Michaelangelo’s David or a model photographed by Lon of New York. Kapler made his presence felt by not only making his teammates feel woefully inadequate physically but also making a tremendous pounce on a Jeff Francoeur line drive in the eighth.
Note: “Mekko” is the word for “chief” in Creek, the language of the people that lived in what is now called Georgia. The Creek were just one of the aboriginal groups displaced in the 1830s by Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy.