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Home » July 2006 Game CommentsJuly 2006 » Reign


Game 92: July 18, 2006
Royals (32-61), 0
Red Sox (56-36), 1
L: Brandon Duckworth (1-3)
W: Jon Lester (5-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (28)

This past Tuesday, there was more action off the field than on. Javier Lopez was optioned to Pawtucket and Willie Harris was designated for assignment to make room for Jermaine Van Buren and Wily Mo Peña. So, when I watched Harris depart Fenway on Monday night, it probably was his last time driving down Yawkey Way. I’ll miss his .156 BA, .250 OBP, and .200 slugging, not to mention his single RBI and six stolen bases. It was great to have someone around to remind everyone of Cesar Crespo, but it’s production, not nostalgia, that powers a team.

Jon Lester was phenomenal and pitched for more than six innings for the first time in the majors. It’s easy to appear masterful against a team like the Royals. Kansas City trails the rest of the AL in the major offensive categories: 12th in batting average, tenth in OBP, 13th in slugging, 12th in RBIs, and 14th in home runs. Such a team probably makes Joey Gathright long for the Devil Rays. Such a team could give a starting job to Willie Harris, and he’d probably bat in the middle third of the lineup.

Nevertheless, Lester lasted for eight innings, allowing just a single hit and four walks while striking out four. He pitched exactly 100 pitches, 57 of which were strikes. Jonathan Papelbon entered the ninth inning and pitched perfectly. There’s few things that one can appreciate the smaller they get, things like waist measurements, cholesterol levels, and golf handicaps. One of those things is ERA, and Papelbon’s is 0.55.

Brandon Duckworth pitched almost as well as Lester. In fact, he walked three fewer batters and struck out one more in his six innings of work. Even more surprisingly, Kansas City’s bullpen, Andrew Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos pitched two scoreless innings to end the game.

The fitful wind conspired against both teams. In the fifth inning, Jason Varitek doubled off the wall, just missing a home run. The visitors probably thought the evaded misfortune, but then Alex Gonzalez knocked the ball up the middle to score Varitek and notch the only run of the game. Both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez had their long flys knocked down by the vengeful gales.

How disheartening to see a team like a Royals, one of the teams from the 1969 expansion, mired in such lassitude. In their short history they’ve captured six division titles, two pennants, and a World Series championship, as well as having George Brett inducted into the Hall of Fame. Unlike other cellar dwellers, like the Pirates and even the Devil Rays, they lack emerging talent to build around. Owner David Glass is content to pocket the revenue sharing checks the league sends him. I enjoyed seeing the Royals play in the Negro League Monarch uniforms this past weekend in a game against Detroit; it’s one of the few things this team does right.

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