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Home » August 2006 Game CommentsAugust 2006 » Invaluable


Game 108: August 4, 2006
Red Sox (65-43), 3
Devil Rays (45-65), 2
W: Curt Schilling (14-4)
H: Manny Delcarmen (11)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (30)
BS: Shawn Camp (2)
L: Seth McClung (3-11)

The one thing that needs less cowbell: Tropicana Field. One of the few entertaining options in this baseball mausoleum is the Rays’ mascot, Raymond. The ever-buoyant cult figure donned a Ben Affleck mask that was actually more expressive than the actual actor’s own face.

Kiddies, don’t forget to head to the Rays Touch Tank located just beyond the right-center fence. In addition to the prodding fingers of toddlers, the poor rays will have to avoid missiles into their abode. For every home run hit into their home, $5,000 will be donated, half to the Florida Aquarium and half to a charity selected by the hitter of the home run.

Other fan outreach programs that the commissioner’s office did not approve:

  • Injection Connection at AT&T Park in San Francisco: Become a “Giant” just like Barry Bonds
  • Friar Fun Time at Petco: Have your kids get up close and personal with members of the local clergy
  • Tame a Tiger in Detroit: Whip and chair provided by the club; children 12 and under get free slabs of meat
  • Bernie Brewer’s Cheers for Beers: Microbrewing made easy enough for your tween to build a fermenter in the basement
  • Bird Flu and You: While enjoying the beauty of Camden Yards, partake in an interactive educational experience on cross-species epidemics

Perhaps Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett mentoring system isn’t working as it should. Schilling surrendered two homers in his seven innings of work last night, one to Damon Hollins in the first and the second to Carl Crawford in the third. Fortunately both were solo shots and were the only runs Tampa Bay could muster.

The panicky unloading of Josh Bard (.339 BA, .413 OBP, and .533 slugging in 164 at bats) in May looked even more foolish with the current dearth of catchers able to suit up for the Red Sox. For the final out of the inning, Carl Crawford slid into the plate as well as Doug Mirabelli’s ankle, hobbling the backstop. Mirabelli (.183 BA, .264 OBP, and .321 slugging in 109 at bats) was able to hold on to the ball to end the inning, but was pulled from the lineup in favor of the recently acquired Javy Lopez (.261 BA, .310 OBP, and .406 slugging in 283 at bats). As likable as Mirabelli seems, his being sidelined is perhaps the best thing for the team at the moment.

Proud product of the Yankee scouting system Dioner Navarro demonstrated that he can’t count past two in the fourth inning. After Kevin Youkilis struck out, the Rays catcher bolted for the dugout although there were only two outs in the inning. Perhaps he was struck dumb by David Ortiz’s colossal circuit clout or so stunned that Youkilis didn’t walk that his basic counting skills escaped him.

As if Mirabelli’s injury wasn’t worrisome enough, Schilling had a scare after B.J. Upton’s liner deflected off his pitching hand in the fourth. Schilling would do well to remember he has a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop behind him and doesn’t need to submit his body to unnecessary risks. But the veteran righty would remain in the game, impressively dialing up his velocity to 97 miles per hour when striking out Upton and Tomas Perez with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Key defensive plays kept the Rays at bay. Mark Loretta turned a key double play in the fifth with rookie Ben Zobrist called out for running out of the basepath to avoid the Red Sox second baseman’s tag and relaying to first to nab the zooming Crawford. In the bottom of the eighth, Gabe Kapler ran down Travis Lee’s liner to shallow right. The Rays first baseman had a single and thought the ball had gotten past the right fielder, and was therefore visibly shocked that the ball made it back to second to get him out.

“Clutch” doesn’t just mean walk-off hits but also coming through when the game is late and close. In the eighth inning with the score knotted at two runs apiece, Ortiz jacked a longball into straight away center.

“Clutch” also shouldn’t apply just to hitting. Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon combined for two scoreless innings; the shut down dyad struck out three, walked none, and allowed a single hit.

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