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Home » August 2006 Game CommentsAugust 2006 » Salve


Game 119: August 16, 2006
Tigers (78-42), 4
Red Sox (69-50), 6
L: Justin Verlander (14-6)
W: David Wells (2-2)
H: Craig Hansen (7)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (32)

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a monkey shall throw out the first pitch, and the umpire shall hug the baseball player; and a little child shall lead them.

Rookie of the Year candidates were in steady supply last night. Detroit’s Justin Verlander hurled six innings but didn’t sparkle as usual; he gave up five earned runs and walked seven batters.

Boston’s nominee, Jonathan Papelbon, nailed his 32nd save of the season in six pitches and kept is ERA below one point at .89.

Age before beauty, goes the adage, and David Wells proved it last night. At 43, Wells is nearly as old as Verlander and Papelbon combined. The guileful lefty surmounted the raw power of the opposition with his precise location and flummoxing approach. Wells was able to exploit the impatient nature of the Tigers hitters to his own ends and lasted six and two-thirds innings with four earned runs, a single walk, three strikeouts, and two home runs.

Terry Francona defied his ingrained tendency to allow pitchers to finish innings and pulled his starter in the third after he had secured two outs. The field manager seemed to recall that Magglio Ordóñez jacked a solo shot in the sixth against Wells and slugs the lefty at a .519 clip.

In any other year or if he were a Yankee, Craig Hansen may have gotten a vote or two as an outstanding rookie. The lanky reliever induced a pop out by Ordóñez and continued into the eighth. Although he relinquished a single to lead off that inning, a 4-6-3 double play eased his burden and he cooled the scorching Sean Casey to finish off the side.

Speaking of Casey, there was much rending of garments and hair when the Red Sox didn’t acquire the first baseman at the trading deadline. Instead, Theo Epstein traded for the cheaper, younger, and more versatile Eric Hinske, a former Rookie of the Year himself. The deal between the teams has Hinske coming to Boston and a player to be named later going to Toronto and was announced after the game last night. Boston now has some of the bench strength required for the stretch. Separately, Boston also acquired Northeastern University product Carlos Peña. Both left-handed batters will fill the lacunae left by Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek’s injuries. Hinske’s arrival may spell doom for Nixon’s re-signing.

The dormant Red Sox offense exploded, led by David Ortiz’s fifth inning two-run homer. Coco Crisp, Mark Loretta, and Mike Lowell also had RBIs of their own to help secure the win for the home team. Crisp’s two-run wall ball double in the sixth should have been a three-run hit, but home plate Bruce Froemming, perhaps a bit blinded by tears of sentiment from the pre-game ceremony celebrating his 5,000th game, called Alex Cora out at home. Lowell’s sacrifice fly to right to plate Ortiz in the seventh tallied an insurance run, however, and the Red Sox scavenged one game from the team with the best record in the majors.

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