Game 60: June 11, 2006
Rangers (33-29), 4
Red Sox (36-24), 5
H: Ron Mahay (4)
H: Scott Feldman (4)
BS, L: Akinori Otsuka (2, 2-2)
W: Manny Delcarmen (1-0)
Up until late Saturday night I had no plans to attend this game in person. But I am always game should a friend contact me with tickets, even at the last minute. Too bad about what happened at Troy, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Coincidentally, this game was the Sons of Sam Horn’s outing and one of their members got to throw out the first pitch because she was the “Leader of the Pack” (insert motorcycle engine sound effect here).
Am I ever grateful Matt decided to tell me he procured tickets for the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday. Sure, I was 11th or so on the list, but those other 11 folks are despondent that they didn’t get to go. Even though I had to contend with a hungover and disheveled buddy not-so-fresh from a wedding and reception, the game was worth it. Also, it was breezy enough so that any residual fumes wafted away and the bright sun in the bleachers seemed to have blanched away any other unsavory aromas.
I had yet to see Josh Beckett pitch live and was somewhat gratified by his five and one-third inning appearance. Although he gave up an RBI double to Mark DeRosa in the first inning, Kevin Youkilis’s inability to field a relay throw by Alex Gonzalez with Michael Young bearing down on him at first base.
The Red Sox mustered runs of their own early in the game. Manny Ramirez homered to the opposite field, giving fans in the stands a palpable reminder of his 16th roundtripper of the season. Sadly, Matt missed this pivotal play due to a restroom visit. Alcohol is the drink of the devil, people. David Ortiz lofted a single over the shift into center field in the third inning to plate Mark Loretta.
Beckett would not allow another run until the fifth inning when he allowed back-to-back doubles from Rod Barajas and Ian Kinsler to tie the game. The Kinsler double was questionable as third base umpire Paul Schrieber appeared to call the ball foul but was actually fleeing for his life. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce called the ball fair, provoking an extended conversation between Terry Francona and the officials that ended with the extra base hit remaining on the scoreboard. Beckett then allowed a base on balls to Gary Matthews, Jr., but settled to sit Young, Mark Teixeira, and Hank Blalock, issuing strikeouts to the Ranger’s shortstop and third baseman. The sixth inning began promisingly enough with a DeRosa whiff, but Brad Wilkerson walked on five pitches and scored on a Kevin Mench homer deposited into the Monster seats.
David Riske and Manny Delcarmen combined for three and two-thirds scoreless innings, doing their best Mike Timlin impersonations. Delcarmen struck out both Wilkerson and Mench and worked himself out of a jam in the top of the ninth to set the stage for Ortiz.
What Ortiz does is beyond clutch at this point. It’s superhuman. Shaquille O’Neal claims he’s an alien, but the real extraterrestrial is Ortiz. O’Neal says he’s from another planet but Ortiz isn’t even from this galaxy. With Trot Nixon, who had pinch hit for Gonzalez, and Coco Crisp on base with singles and two outs, Ortiz entered the batter’s box with the singular mission of winning the game for his team.
He is so money. And he knows it.
As Ortiz’s home run receded out of my view into the teeming masses in the bleachers, I clapped my hands raw, I hollered my throat dry, and exulted in a glorious day of baseball.