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Home » May 2007 Game CommentsMay 2007 » Stranded


Game 34: May 11, 2007
WinOrioles 6 W: Brian Burres (1-1)
H: Todd Williams (1)
H: John Parrish (6)
H: Chad Bradford (7)
H: Jamie Walker (6)
S: Chris Ray (8)
18-18, 4 game winning streak
5-6-1 series record
Red Sox 3 L: Julian Tavarez (1-4) 23-11, 1 game losing streak
9-2-2 series record
Highlights: Javier Lopez, recalled from Pawtucket to replace Devern Hansack, pitched a perfect sixth inning. Julio Lugo had a 3-for-5 evening while Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis both went 2-for-5 with a double apiece, but the remainder of the lineup was stagnant. Crisp’s double clanged about the garage door in left field, one of those quirky Fenway hits.

Nick Markakis was born one year after Wily Mo Peña, although the former was born late in 1983 while Peña was born in the beginning of 1982. Much is made of Peña being rushed through the ranks because he was signed to a major league contract. He hacked his way through the Gulf Coast League to the MLB in just three years, from 1999 to 2002.

Meanwhile, Markakis was drafted in 2001 and 2002 by the Cincinnati Reds, but he decided to go to Young Harris College both years. When the Orioles drafted him in 2003 in the first round as the seventh pick all-around, Markakis finally signed on to a professional team. Markakis advanced gradually through the levels, although his production 2005 warranted a promotion from High A to Double A. He debuted last season and secured himself a starting position.

Last night Markakis went 4-for-5 and made a dazzling catch of Jason Varitek’s line drive destined for the bullpens in the fifth. In contrast, Peña looked as awkward as ever in right field, botching an easy fly ball off the bat of Jay Gibbons in the top of the fifth.

To be certain, Peña was always lauded for his power hitting, so much so his development, or lack thereof, in fielding was ignored. He was pushed through the minors at a dizzying pace so that a player who had signed a major league deal did not wither away on the farm.

As strapping as Peña may seem, his fielding skill is acutely atrophied. In the Reds organization he was a peripatetic outfielder. Markakis was wise to have rejected the Reds twice; perhaps he saw how young players were stunted there and decided on a club that, although not at the top of the American League, would at least afford him a resolute chance to develop as not just a hitter but an all-around player.

Last night there were some contretemps with the umpiring crew*, but the Orioles also made outstanding defensive plays to avert their first loss in since May 7. Miguel Tejada elevated for two line shots, first in the seventh against J.D. Drew with the bases loaded (where he was so adroit the shortstop very nearly turned a double play) and again in the ninth, where he intercepted what could have been a leadoff hit for Kevin Youkilis.

*In the bottom of the third, first base umpire Chris Guccione called Peña out when he should have been safe. The result was an inning-ending double play. Third base umpire Lance Barksdale made a questionable call when he said David Ortiz went around in the eighth for the third strike. Mike Lowell and others had issues with home plate umpire Jim Reynolds’s low strike calls. But nevertheless, the Red Sox have their share of slumbering lumber; thirteen men were stranded.

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