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Home » April 2007 Game CommentsApril 2007 » Metacarpophalangeal


Game 13: April 18, 2007
WinRed Sox 4 W: Tim Wakefield (2-1)
H: Brendan Donnelly (2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (3)
8-5, 1 game winning streak
2-1-1 series record
Blue Jays 1 L: Tomo Ohka (0-2) 8-6, 1 game losing streak
2-0-1 series record
Highlights: A hat trick of home runs by Mike Lowell in the fifth, Doug Mirabelli in the sixth, and David Ortiz in the seventh. Papelbon notched his third of the young season but allowed a hit to Aaron Hill. Speaking of Hill, he played a huge role impervious shift against Ortiz. Hopefully Joe Maddon wasn’t taking notes on this game.

Where’s all the hype for Tomokazu Ohka [大家友和]? The kanji in his family name mean “big house” and his given name means “friend of peace.” At one point in time I doubt Sun-Woo Kim would agree with such a name, but since their dust-ups in triple A they have supposedly buried the hatchet.

Like Daisuke Matsuzaka he’s a Japanese right-handed pitcher, too, but unlike the highly regarded rookie Ohka switch hits. But there’s no uproar over the former Red Sox farmhand. His path diverges from the chosen one narratives typified by Hideki Matsui or Matsuzaka. Instead, he had sparked the interest of Dan Duquette’s front office, demonstrating that general manager’s interest in acquiring players from Asia like Kim and Ohka. Although Theo Epstein didn’t invent scouting in other continents despite what his adherents proclaim, he and his crew have bettered it.

The Red Sox purchased Ohka’s contract from the Yokohama BayStars in 1998 and made his debut less than a year later on July 19, 1999 against the Marlins. He took the loss in that game and pitched in Pawtucket in 2000, where he tossed a perfect game on June 1. Since then, Ohka has eked out a marginal major league career in Montreal, Washington, Milwaukee, and now Toronto.

Ohka was out-dueled by another Duquette acquisition, Tim Wakefield. Wakefield’s tenure with Boston has turned out much better, but Wakefield can’t brag about being mentioned on “The Simpsons” like Ohka has.

Like Matsuzaka the night before, Wakefield ran into a snag in the fourth inning. Coincidentally, the number four is considered bad luck in Japan because it is a homonym with death. The knuckleballer walked Frank Thomas, Lyle Overbay, and Aaron Hill in sequence after getting two outs under his belt. Without a change in demeanor throughout the ordeal, Wakefield calmly struck out Jason Phillips in four pitches to cool the brewing rally.

Wakefield only allowed a single run to score in his seven innings of work. In the seventh the light-hitting Royce Clayton managed a two-out double. He would eventually score on John McDonald’s single to Manny Ramirez. I can hear Ramirez’s detractors muttering under their collective breath that the Red Sox left fielder should have legged out a run or dove mightily to intercept the ball, but that same rabble would be the first to vilify him had he made the effort and failed or worse injured himself in the attempt.

Jonathan Papelbon commanded the mound with fastballs clocking in over 95 MPH and reaching as high as 97. Hill snuck a hit into center and Gregg Zaun pinch walked to bring the tying run to the dish. John Gibbons summoned another two pitch hitters to face Papelbon, Jason Smith and Adam Lind. The pair was dismissed in seven pitches.

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