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Home » August 2006 Game CommentsAugust 2006 » Riposte


Game 106: August 2, 2006
Indians (46-60), 5
Red Sox (64-42), 6
BS: Brian Sikorski (1)
BS, L: Fausto Carmona (2, 1-2)
H: Manny Delcarmen (10)
BS: Mike Timlin (4)
W: Jonathan Papelbon (3-1)

Every season there’s a player that brings out the fangirl in me. A player that I can justifiably cheer for because of his performance on the field but who else makes my heart race when I see him in person. While Bill Mueller was here, he was my Red Sox Crush.

It has to be someone that not everyone is idolizing, since I tend to stray from the mainstream. In high school when my peers were drooling over the faux soul and fades of The New Kids on the Block or the epicene dreaminess of Duran Duran, I idolized Johnny Marr. And I could reasonably claim it was because of his superb craftsmanship with the guitar, and the music highbrows would be impressed.

In part it was because of his artistry, but also it was because I found him attractive. My friends were perplexed. “If I were going to select a somewhat obscure group, why not pick the lead singer?” they would wonder.

Obviously, they didn’t realize how futile the pursuit of Morrissey would be.

This year’s Red Sox Crush is Mark Loretta. I needed a replacement for Mueller, and Loretta fit the bill. Quiet, unassuming, consistent, but comes through with the big hit when required. He even has a quirky at bat song (“Low Rider” by War) to boot.

Not that he’s had a lot of boots this season--just four errors this season. For AL second basemen with over 300 at bats this season, he’s:

  • third in OBP (.355)
  • eighth in slugging (.385)
  • tied for first in batting average (.303)
  • fifth in RBIs (43)
  • first in hits (130)

He strikes out 10% of time and could stand to improve his walk-to-strikeout ratio, which is currently .682. In comparison to his peers in a traditionally weak offensive position, Loretta has proved his worth.

I always ensure that my crushes have statistical evidence to be admired. Otherwise, it would be so transparent that I scribble “Mrs. Mark Loretta” on my Hello Kitty notebook in sparkly purple ink. Too bad there aren’t any “i’s” in his name, because I would dot them in iridescent pink.

Loretta’s walk-off double last night, his second game-winning hit this season, sealed the deal for me. Let us not forget that Loretta also scored the second run of this game in the fifth with his squibber up the middle, bringing his team to within one run. I <3 Mark, and I don’t care who knows it. Big Papi this, Papelbon that; of course I cheer them on. But the modest infielder is my secret (well, not so much now) infatuation.

The game itself was rife with promise. The starters were both left-handed rookies that had captured the imagination of their fans with their outstanding performances. Jeremy Sowers is more of the finesse pitcher, a latter-day Tom Glavine hopeful, while Jon Lester is a power lefty in the mold of Andy Pettitte. (Lester even displayed a Pettitte-like pickoff move in the first when he caught Jason Michaels off guard.)

The Cleveland pitcher didn’t quite live up this his billing, however. Sowers may have been fatigued by his back-to-back complete game shutouts. He lasted only five innings and turned in a line of two earned runs, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Although Lester was sapped by a strenuous first inning during which he gave up three earned runs and threw over 30 pitches, the Red Sox rookie was unperturbed and pitched for five scoreless innings. He walked a single batter and struck out three. There could have been more chances for peril were it not for Coco Crisp’s defensively prowess.

In the second, the Red Sox ballhawk in center ranged for Andy Marte’s fly ball while Kelly Shoppach, who had led off the inning with a double, suddenly believed himself bequeathed with great speed and tagged up get to third. Crisp hit the cutoff man, Alex Gonzalez, to complete the twin killing.

The defensive pair collaborated again in the sixth. Retreating to the point where the left field wall abuts the center field wall, Crisp made an over-the-shoulder catch of Casey Blake’s rainbow. Crisp was off the mark with his throw to the infield, aiming his throw more towards first rather than Gonzalez. The shortstop was able to catch up to the ball, spin, and flawlessly relay to Kevin Youkilis’s mitt in one polished motion to eliminate Victor Martinez from the basepaths.

The two-pronged attached of Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Peña in the sixth was stunning. Ramirez first distracts opponents with his haughty clout, so olympian in stature with its refined arc. They can’t help but admire its magnificence. Then, thus preoccupied, Peña is brought in with his destructive swing, annihilating what’s left of the morale of their foes and almost taking along a fan’s head with it. There are herds of cattle around the globe whose biggest fear isn’t bovine spongiform encephalopathy or slaughterhouses, but being made into a baseball that Peña crushes.


Your last line is fantastic . . .
And I, too, [heart] Mark Loretta, but I can't decide if it's because I have a thing for second basemen named Mark, or because (as I've only recently realized) he's dead ringer for my Darling Husband.

Do you tell your husband, "Hey, put on this number three Red Sox jersey. Okay, and now this glove...." And then practice open mouth/closed mouth signaling system? It's neat when the cameras catch Loretta and Gonzalez doing that. Am I the only one that looks for that?

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