Game 72: June 24, 2006
Phillies (35-39), 3
Red Sox (44-28), 5
L: Tom Gordon (2-3)
BS: Manny Delcarmen (1)
W: Jonathan Papelbon (2-1)
It was with more than unmixed delight that I watched as Brett Myers, the alleged abuser, nearly get decapitated by Alex Gonzalez’s liner up the middle in the second inning. If Myers did get beaned in the face, I must admit that would have been even more enjoyable than David Ortiz’s game-winning homer or the fact that Jonathan Papelbon locked down for two and a third innings for a win.
Curt Schilling endured for only six innings, perhaps due to his 24-pitch first inning that resulted in two runs but more likely because he couldn’t buy an out in the seventh inning even though he was pitching to the bottom of the order. He began the frame with consecutive singles by Aaron Rowand and David Dellucci and walking David Bell. Terry Francona truly lived up to his promise that he would test the young bullpen by having Manny Delcarmen face pinch-hitter Shane Victorino with the bags jammed and no out.
The hometown pitcher did induce a line out from Victorino but relinquished a game-tying RBI single to Jimmy Rollins. Javier Lopez took the mound to face lefty Chase Utley, who had been on fire but grounded bootlessly to Alex Gonzalez for the inning-ending double play.
A few of the Phillies seemed out of sorts; perhaps they were put off by having to play behind Myers. Rowand threw galley-west in the second inning on his attempt to return Mark Loretta’s gutshot grounder, permitting Kevin Youkilis to score and Loretta to advance to second. In the ninth Jimmy Rollins failed to seize third base on the Utley grounder to Gonzalez that saw his teammate Chris Coste gunned out at home. Rollins would have been the third out at third, so perhaps the caution was warranted, but he is fleet enough for the task and he represented the go-ahead run.
In contrast, the Red Sox prolonged their error-free streak to 12 games and made key plays on defense to keep Philadelphia at bay. Manny Ramirez scaled the left field wall to nab Pat Burrell’s foul fly ball in the sixth. Gonzalez and Youkilis tandemed for the pivotal double play in the seventh. If the Red Sox play another four games without an error, they will have tied the major league record for this streak held by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jonathan Papelbon was miked up for the game and bragged of his Scrabble expertise. I’m fairly good at the game if I’ve consumed enough qat tea, purchased from a suq, and am not waylaid on a umiaq trip or playing the crwth near a ghyll. So, Mr. Papelbon, if you are reading this, I humbly challenge you to a Scrabble contest. If you're intimated by my skills, we could have a hybrid Scrabble Strikeout Scuffle, taking the amalgamated pastime of chess boxing as our inspiration.
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver spoke glowingly of Papelbon, touting him not only as a potential Rookie of the Year or Cy Young winner but as a MVP candidate as well. After Craig Hansen yielded a double to Ryan Howard and walked Rowand, Papelbon toed the rubber to strike out Dellucci to end the eighth. The closer had a spot of trouble in the ninth with two sequential base hits but was bailed out by his shortstop’s on-target toss to home to keep the Phillies off the scoreboard. In the tenth he exhibited his near-effortless authority, striking out Howard and Rowand and making Dellucci ground out feebly.
David Ortiz was given the four-finger salute in the second. In the preceeding inning he showed his prowess at breaching the shift. Although intentional bases on balls ostensibly show respect, such tactics are prone to inspire annoyance in the Red Sox designated hitter. As he said in his postgame interview following his eighth walk-off roundtripper, Ortiz knew the rain was coming and had to get the job done.
NOUN: 1. The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer. 2. The upper region of the sky. 3. The highest point above the observer’s horizon attained by a celestial body. 4. The point of culmination; the peak: the zenith of her career. See synonyms at summit. ETYMOLOGY: Middle English senith, from Old French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic samt (ar-ra’s), path (over the head), from Latin sēmita, path.