Game 134: August 31, 2006
Blue Jays (69-65), 4
Red Sox (72-62), 6
L: Roy Halladay (16-5)
BS, W: Manny Delcarmen (4, 2-0)
H: Mike Timlin (21)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (35)
It was a subdued homecoming. When I bought these tickets, I remember perusing the season schedule to pinpoint what should be a decisive game. I had envisioned us returning from a triumphant road trip, flush with victory and ready to face those interlopers from the north for an AL East showdown. For, in my dream of dreams, the Yankees were in fourth place behind the Devils Rays and the Blue Jays and Red Sox were to clash for the divisional crown.
Instead, the ball club returned with a nearly-empty bench and even more vacant chances to make the postseason. Even worse, key players were stricken from the ranks by ills that could be far worse than any injury experienced in the normal course of play.
So, it should have come as no surprise that David Wells was scratched from his start. Matt of NU50, who I was going to the game with, called me as I made my way to the park.
“I’m sitting in Boston Beer Works and the crawl along the bottom of the screen changed from ‘Halladay vs. Wells’ to ‘Halladay vs. Tavarez.’ I’m trying to figure out what’s going on but none of the televisions have sound.”
“How drunk are you?” Knowing Matt, it’s a fair question to ask.
“I’m not drunk. Yet.”
“It’s the best way to watch the games, these days,” though, thanks to my insufficient aldehyde dehydrogenase, it’s not a state I may attain.
Through text messages with a friend quick on the browser refresh button, it transpired that Wells was indeed traded. He was sent to his hometown of San Diego for a player to be named later. Rumor has it that catching prospect George Kottaras will be named in the deal.
Although the actual circumstances of the game were far different from my original expectations, win is a win is a win is a win. I also had loge seats that, despite the walkway traffic advisory, were an outstanding vantage point to try out my new camera, a Canon S3 IS. If you’re interested in seeing Brian Butterfield’s nostril hairs, this is the tool for you.
It even made Dustin Pedroia seem large (when he wasn’t standing near normal-sized people).
Pedroia made an extraordinary play in the eighth inning to keep the home team in the lead. Mike Timlin had given up a ringing leadoff single to Lyle Overbay. Gregg Zaun nearly rapped a grounder past Pedroia, but the rookie second baseman was able to snag the ball before it dribbled into the outfield and fired to Alex Cora for the force at second. Cora smoothly transferred the ball to the waiting glove of Carlos Peña for the second out of the inning.
Cora patted Pedroia on the head after the twin killing.
Timlin gave up single to Alex Rios, but this time Terry Francona staunched the bleeding immediately by calling on closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Even Papelbon required defensive intervention, however, as Red Sox-killing Aaron Hill lined what seemed sure to be a hit for the go-ahead run, as Rios had swiped second to get into scoring position.
Out of the ether came a diving Gabe Kapler, who had replaced Eric Hinske in the top of the inning, for the final out of the eighth.
The Red Sox had a lead to defend thanks only to Rios’s gaffes in the seventh. The inning started off promisingly with Peña’s wall-scraping double, but he was erased from the keystone bag on Pedroia’s failed sacrifice bunt attempt. Pedroia’s hustle to first, however, ensured there would be a runner on the base paths. After Coco Crisp flied out to center, Cora took the dish.
The shortstop’s fly ball to right didn’t seem to have enough off the bat for a roundtripper, and indeed it didn’t. Rios’s reaction time was good; perhaps too good. After muffing the catch, he was able to swat at the ball with his right hand. Unfortunately for him, he swatted it into the first row of the stands.
It was Cora’s first home run of the season.
Mike Lowell propelled a more traditional roundtripper into the Monster seats in the first inning with two men on for the early lead.
Matt and I undertook the Berman Nickname Challenge throughout the game. I forgot many of our inventions, but I’m sure he’ll be chiming in with his contributions shortly.
- Eric Hinske
J: Eric Hinske Season is Open
- Mike Lowell
J: Mike Sweet and Lowell
M: Mike Exit 44, Route 3 to Lowell Connector
- Frank Catalanotto
J: Frank Catalanacho Mama
M: Frank Catalanacho Belle Grande, Frank Curiosity Killed the Catalanotto
- Javy Lopez
J: Javy Lopez Dispenser, Javy Nagila
M: Javy Gun, Will Travel, Javy LoPants
- Gregg Zaun
J: Gregg Zaun of the Dead
M: Gregg is so Boring He Makes Me Zaun
- Aaron Hill
J: Aaron Over the Hill
M: Aaron King of the Hill, Aaron Battle of Bunker Hill, Aaron Anita Hill
- John McDonald
J: “He’s going to go e-i-e-i-o-fer.”
M: “Just. Stop.”
- Russ Adams
J: Russ Adams Family
M: Russ Quincy Adams
- Brian Butterfield
J: Brian I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butterfield
M: Brian Straw-Butterfields Forever, Brian Butterfield of Dreams
- Kevin Youkilis
J: Kevin He’s Making a Youkilis and Checking it Twice
M: Kevin You’re So Funny, You-kil-is Every Time
- Alex Cora
M: Alex Mantle is Beneath the Cora
- Lyle Overbay
J: Lyle, Lyle Crocodile Overbay
M: Lyle Over-eaters-anonymous-bay
- Dustin Pedroia
J: Dustin the Wind Pedroia
M: I’m Sick of These Dustin Pedroia-ing Snakes on This Dustin Pedroia-ing Plane!
- Troy Glaus
J: Troy Lip Glaus
M: Glaus of Troy, the man who launched a thousand hits, Troy Through the Looking Glaus
- Vernon Wells
J: Mt. Vernon Wells
- Alex Rios
J: Alex Cheer Rios
M: Alex Blame it on Rios, Alex His Name is Rios and He Dances on the Sand
- Carlos Peña
J: Carlos the Peña and the Pleasure
M: Carlos Peña, the man whose babies I most want to have (after David Ortiz)
I’ll be posting pictures from the game later on tonight.