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Home » July 2006 Game CommentsJuly 2006 » Coronate


Game 91: July 17, 2006
Royals (32-60), 4
Red Sox (55-36), 5
BS, L: Joel Peralta (2, 1-2)
W: Mike Timlin (5-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (27)

Last night I had the privilege of attending the game thanks to my friends Jane (of JJ’s Space), Annie (Jane’s girlfriend), and Joe (with whom I’ve collaborated with from time to time). The seats were in Section 40, the same area as David Laurila (author of Interviews from Red Sox Nation) and Anne Quinn. I love sitting in this part of the bleachers because it’s a good mix of season ticket holders and ruffians, one keeping group keeping the other in check.

The frat boy types behind us tried to act tough by harrying the groundskeeper who was in charge of running down beachballs. They also were sub-par hecklers, resorting to coarse slurs when trying to provoke Joey Gathright. But their vacuity was countervailed by the young boy and father pair to my right. The son had a Johnny Damon jersey that he retrofitted as a Josh Beckett ensemble by duct taping over the original name as well as applying white tape to change the “8” to a “9.” “You can make a Red Sox shirt out of tape,” he advised me knowingly. “All you need is tape and you can do anything!” That’s the trait of fan initiative and invention that Larry Lucchino must hate.

Unfortunately we got to our seats too late to see Marvin Lee Aday (a.k.a. Meatloaf) and Will Ferrell throw their first pitches. Only in baseball can two portions of three thirds add to a single unit and more than one first pitch can exist. Ferrell was dressed in the polyester blend uniform of the 70s and mimicked Luis Tiant. The actor’s pitch missed the plate but Josh Beckett nonetheless was able to glove it before it bounded to the backstop.

Tim Wakefield pitched only four innings, forced to leave early due to a recurrence of his back pain. The knuckleballer did seem out of sorts early. He begin the second inning by hitting Emil Brown after getting ahead with two swinging strikes. Mark Teahen singled and Gathright walked to load the bases. Wakefield walked the nine-hole hitter John Buck to grant the Royals the first run on the board. David DeJesus singled to left to plate both Teahen and Gathright.

In Wakefield’s stead Manny Delcarmen pitched two innings and permitted only a single run to score. DeJesus was involved again, this time his grounder fielded by Kevin Youkilis, who opted for the sure force at first rather than throwing home to nab Teahen.

I must chide those who left the game early because of the 4-0 lead Kansas City compiled. They were oblivious to the fact that the Royals’ bullpen is the worst in the league. These are the casual fans for whom the Red Sox trivia has been dumbed down. Last night’s question was so obvious because one the answers was the man who started the game. “Name the three pitchers who have pitched 2,000 or more innings on the Red Sox,” commanded the Jumbotron. Neophyte fans may have been misled by the presence of Jim Lonborg as the “Red Sox Legend” of the evening, but of course the hurlers are Roger Clemens (2,776), Cy Young (2,728.1), and Tim Wakefield (2,191.1).

Those who left early missed both Coco Crisp’s RBI single and Doug Mirabelli’s game-tying roundtripper in the seventh. Mirabelli’s homer was slow and lofty; it didn’t seem to have the might required to clear the wall. But it had enough height to be pushed by the breeze into the Monster seats.

The home team completed the comeback in the eighth inning. Mark Loretta and David Ortiz hit back-to-back singles. Terry Francona had Willie Harris pinch run for Loretta at third. The switch proved prescient as Manny Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to left proved shallow enough for DeJesus to make the play at home close. Inspired by his smallball success, Ortiz stole second with Trot Nixon at the dish. The designated hitter swiped the sixth base of his career and was smiling as if he had won the game in his usual clutch way. A pity that Crisp struck out to end the inning because it was clear the Ortiz was itching to attempt a theft of home.

Joe and I hung around on Yawkey Way, a few feet away from the intersection of Boylston, to watch the procession of players leaving the park. Joe is one of the better player spotters because of his height and automobile knowledge. He recognized Jack McCormick, the Red Sox traveling secretary, and called out, “Hey, Jack!” McCormick responded with a wave and somewhat bewildered look. I can hear the conversation back at the McCormick household later that night. “Honey, do we know a real tall kid, brown hair, beard? Some guy waved at me tonight and I didn’t recognize him.” We decided right then that we would cheer the lesser-known Red Sox personalities the loudest. I said that Ino Guerrero is going to get a huge ovation, and sure enough, he was the next one to motor down the road.

We stayed long enough to cheer Mirabelli, one of the last to leave, probably because of the media obligations required of a game-winner.

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