Game 138: September 4, 2006
White Sox (79-58), 2
Red Sox (74-64), 3
H: Mike MacDougal (7)
H: Matt Thornton (16)
BS: Bobby Jenks (3)
L: Brandon McCarthy (3-6)
W: Mike Timlin (6-4)
Thanks to Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory, I had the pleasure of witnessing Julian Tavarez’s six and a third innings of one-run ball in person. Had I not been there, I probably wouldn’t have believed it myself. I wanted to yell at the madly gesticulating pitcher, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Julian Tavarez?”
It was an evening of welcomes even before the first pitch. Jere introduced me to Cyn of Red Sox Chick and The Triumphant Red Sox Fan, who, along with two of their friends, happened to be next to us in line in front of Gate A. They are extraordinary fans; following this team is like being in a support group that one doesn’t feel embarrassed to be a part of. They had just been to the Build-A-Bear Workshop to get stuffed animals decked out in Red Sox gear, which is something I did myself to commemorate 2004. (His name is William and he was born on October 27th.)
Cyn was handing out fliers for Jon Lester Day. If you are going to the game on Sunday, September 10th, please wear a Lester shirt or bring a sign in support of the lefty pitcher. She and the other Sox Sistahs will also collecting donations for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, so see their site for more details. I’ll be there in the pavilion standing room area proudly bearing a sign for the rookie pitcher.
David Ortiz took batting practice and looked to be healthy as ever. Of course, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, and Trot Nixon all returned to the lineup last night. Both Varitek and Ramirez were intentionally walked, and Bobby Jenks pitched so tentatively to Boston’s left fielder in the ninth it might as well have been an intentional walk. Collectively, the returning players went two for eight.
Curt Schilling was honored for reaching 3,000 strikeouts in the pre-game program. Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan all taped congratulatory messages that were played on the Jumbotron. A banner displaying the names of the 14 players that have attained this milestone was unfurled on the wall.
Perhaps seeing those hallowed names inspired both Tavarez and Jon Garland transcend their usual level of play. Tavarez in particular was geared up. Until the seventh inning, he had no fly balls. The infield defense worked in rhythm to Tavarez’s gestures, like a symphony following their conductor, turning three double plays in the course of the evening.
Garland wouldn’t give up a run until the sixth inning. Kevin Youkilis and Mark Loretta singled to begin the frame, but the latter was effaced by Eric Hinske’s grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. With first base open, Ozzie Guillen called for the four-finger salute to Ramirez. Nixon, feeling disrespected by the stratagem, singled down the right field line to plate his fellow fielder on the right side.
The only run Tavarez yielded was a blast over the wall off the bat of Jim Thome in the seventh. The arc of the game-tying roundtripper looked more akin to a Wily Mo Peña shot than a left-handed player’s homer to the opposite field.
Paul Konerko followed Thome’s hit with a double, prompting Terry Francona to pull his spot starter. Tavarez was warmly applauded as he exited the field. Manny Delcarmen put away A.J. Pierzynski on a ground ball to first but couldn’t shelve Joe Crede, who singled in the go-ahead run.
The Red Sox scraped back in the bottom of the ninth. Ramirez was walked by Jenks, who treated the slugger like a bear coming out of hibernation, to lead off the inning. Mike Lowell tied the game with his RBI double. There were chants of “We want Papi” when Gabe Kapler’s spot came up, but Alex Cora pinch hit instead.
Javier Lopez and Mike Timlin held the lead for their team in the ninth and tenth innings respectively, although Lopez did walk the leadoff batter and Timlin allowed a fly ball out deep to center, which is something that never used to happen.
This set the stage for local boy Carlos Peña in the bottom of the tenth. As he had come through in the Futures at Fenway game to hit the game-winning home run, the Haverhill native launched a walk-off home run into the seats just beyond Pesky Pole. In June, Peña had signed a minor league deal with the Yankees and was trapped in a Triple-A malaise. And now, he is on the team of his childhood fantasies and is rekindling the dreams of Red Sox fans everywhere.
Note: I would have posted pictures of all these festivities had my computer’s hard drive not died last night. Boo, technology. Hooray, malternative.*
*Since I can’t drink alcohol.**
**Except for Lindemans Framboise Lambic Ale.