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Home » July 2006 Game CommentsJuly 2006 » Unfathomable


Game 97: July 23, 2006
Red Sox (59-38), 8
Mariners (47-51), 9
H: Craig Hansen (5)
BS: Manny Delcarmen (3)
L: Mike Timlin (5-1)
BS: Julio Mateo (3)
BS, W: J.J. Putz (4, 2-0)

This game reminded me of the movie Artificial Intelligence: AI. Brilliant premise, promising cast, spotty execution, atrocious ending.

Jon Lester could be likened to the Haley Joel Osment character in the film, David. David was a modern-day Pinocchio, an artificial being seeking to become real. Lester was on the cusp of proving himself a real major league pitcher, but made his most compelling case against the Kansas City Royals, a big league team by convention only.

Lester got into trouble early in his homecoming game, permitting three runs in the first inning and two in the third. He pitched to a single batter in the sixth inning after his team had attained a two-run lead. Terry Francona had Lester on a short hook and pulled the rookie starter after another rookie standout, Kenji Johjima, lined a single to deep left. Craig Hansen, another greenhorn that needs seasoning, walked the bases loaded before inducing a strikeout from Adrian Beltre in three pitches.

Alex Gonzalez was as smooth as Jude Law’s character Gigolo Joe, showing the whelps how to get an out with his elevated grab of Yuniesky Betancourt’s rainbow that seemed destined for shallow left.

The World Cup has been over for a number of weeks, but yesterday Manny Ramirez looked more like soccer player in left than an outfielder. In the seventh he slid to stop the trajectory of a line drive by Johjima. Coco Crisp, who had been backing him up, was forced to change his course and Richie Sexson scored from first in the fracas.

In the eighth there was yet another run-scoring mishap by the Red Sox outfield. Crisp retreated to the wall to make a play on Beltre’s deep fly but badly anticipated the path of the ball, which ended up caroming a good distance away from him. Ramirez was standing by to assist, but literally stood by, as he was unable to glove the orb. When Crisp got back into the play, he overshot two cutoff men before getting the ball in the vicinity of Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis, the latter of which had made his way across the diamond to the third base line. By the time Lowell relayed to home plate, Beltre had secured the go-ahead run.

Jason Varitek taunted Red Sox fans with his two-out, game-tying four-bagger in the top of the ninth. It was reliever J.J. Putz’s first surrendered homer since April 4th. In a meta-narrative way, this was analogous to what should have been the ending of A.I., where David gazes upon the Blue Fairy for eternity. Audience members were pleasantly surprised because Steven Spielberg had not resorted to a schmaltzy ending, something he was known for at the time.

Then, deus ex machina in the form of future mechas come whizzing out of the atmosphere to grant their primogenitor David’s wish.

Sexson was also like the character David in the movie: on a quest for love throughout this season. Not motherly love, but rather fans that would adore him despite his .227 BA, .296 OBP, and .440 slugging. The Mariner first baseman briefly turned into a real slugger with his ninth-inning walk-off home run. It was of the traditional sort, hopping about the Red Sox bullpen where Jonathan Papelbon had been warming.

Why wasn’t Papelbon facing Sexson instead of Timlin, you may ask. Prior to yesterday’s roundtripper, Sexson had only been able to manage a single hit off of the veteran relief pitcher in 16 at bats. Furthermore, Sexson had been struck out six times. Finally, the game was tied, and had the Red Sox been unable to score at the top of the subsequent innings, the remaining options after Papelbon in the bullpen were less than savory. Given the difficulty Oakland gave Boston at home, Francona was doing his best to preserve the effective arms he may need to call upon at McAfee Coliseum.


I think no Pap because, headed to the bottom of the ninth, we needed at least six more outs to win.

Good call, Jere. The four times Papelbon has pitched for six outs or more, the Red Sox have:

  1. 4/21: Lost against Toronto (2.1 IPs, blown save by Foulke)

  2. 6/13: Lost against the Twins (2 IPs, Papelbon in the 9th and 10th with Tavarez blowing it)

  3. 6/24: Won against the Phillies (2.1 IPs, saved by Ortiz's 10th inning walk-off homer)

  4. 7/9: Blown a save to the White Sox (2 IPs, pitched in the 9th and 10th again with Dye homering to extend the game)

    The problem with that assessment is that in none of those cases was the extended outing the cause of a poor performance. Both 4/21, 6/13 and 6/24 were all shutout performances by Paps, and on 7/9 the 1 run he did give up happened in his first inning of work.

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