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Home » May 2007 Game CommentsMay 2007 » Giri [義理]

Giri [義理]

Game 47: May 25, 2007
WinRed Sox 10 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-2) 32-15, 1 game winning streak
12-3-2 series record
Rangers 6 L: Wes Littleton (0-1) 18-30, 3 game losing streak
4-10-2 series record
Highlights: Matsuzaka pitched the minimum number of innings for the win due to nausea. Following the game he issued this statement through his translator: “I tried my best to take the team as deep into the game as possible to fulfill my responsibility as the starter. I regret that I ended up being a burden on my teammates (Friday). I’ll do my best to prepare for my next start.” The statement demonstrated giri, a complex Japanese cultural concept that translates variously as sense of duty, social obligation, or debt of gratitude. It is a multi-faceted ideal, better described by the examples cited here than by English words.

Old Pluvy delayed the game for two hours, but neither starter had limbered up for the originally scheduled time for the first pitch. Despite knowing that the game would be delayed and taking their warm-up pitches accordingly, both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Brandon “Highpockets” McCarthy didn’t look sharp taking the mound for the series opener.

Matsuzaka got out of a first-inning jam where he walked Kenny Lofton and allowed a single by Michael Young by instigating a two-ply killing from Mark Teixeira. The hurler then worked Sammy Sosa inside and had the reinvigorated slugger whiffing for the final out of the inning.

McCarthy mowed quickly through the first inning but his control deserted him in the second. He walked the bases loaded in 16 pitches, presenting Jason Varitek with the opportunity to hit the third grand slam of his career. The Boston catcher gave it ride to center and it seemed for a moment that Lofton would be unable to glove the ball, but the subtle center fielder was innately aware of how to take the shortest, most effective route to the ball.

Manny Ramirez tagged up on the play for the first of many Red Sox runs. Highpockets emptied his bag of tricks, but the Boston batters knew better than to fall for his rag-armed offerings. Coco Crisp walked to jam the bases again and Dustin Pedroia dropped a fly ball into shallow right to plate two runs.

Julio Lugo drove in the fourth run of the inning when Sosa failed to field a can of corn while the Ranger right fielder straddled the foul line. Sosa did have the wherewithal to hose Pedroia at second, resulting in an odd fielder’s choice that involved an outfielder. McCarthy escaped the inning without any further damage, but the final out was a high-flier by Kevin Youkilis that was less than two feet short of a home run. It was the last action McCarthy would see.

Jerry Remy mentioned that Varitek and Matsuzaka’s signs are more complex than any other batterymates as there are signals not just for type of pitch but location. I wonder if they have code for “I am feeling incredibly nauseated and my pitching in the fourth inning is going to make you feel that way, too.” The Rangers unleashed a barrage of runs in that inning, including a pair of two-run home runs by the exasperating Frank Catalanotto and the light-hitting Ramon Vazquez.

The Red Sox reclaimed the lead in the top of the next frame. Youkilis extended his hit streak to 17 games with a one-out single that dropped in front of Sosa (a common sight last night). David Ortiz smoked a grounder by the glove of Teixeira; no mean feat considering the first baseman’s renown as a fielder. The ball gamboled all the way to the right field wall as Youkilis ran hard to score from first. Ortiz was driven in by Ramirez’s grounder off the second base sack for the go-ahead run.

Unlike McCarthy, Matsuzaka was permitted to retake the mound for a chance to notch the win. The fresh leaguer found himself in the crunch with no men out; Young line a two-sacker and Teixeira walked on four pitches. Sosa provided a timely and courteous room service double play. Matsuzaka quelled his queasiness long enough to strike out Catalanotto with six pitches after having fallen behind in the count 2-0.

Although Matsuzaka’s statement on his performance last night may seem foreign, there are similarities in American sports. You see it when Tom Brady gives his lineman guest spots in his commercials or pricey gifts at the end of the season. As a group-oriented society, concepts that build successful teams are already part of their culture. Matsuzaka just might be giving Kyle Snyder, Javier Lopez, Brendan Donnelly, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon a token of his appreciation for keeping the Rangers at bay for the rest of the game.

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