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Home » June 2007 Game CommentsJune 2007 » Kaibutsu [怪物]

Kaibutsu [怪物]

Game 67: June 16, 2007
Giants 0 L: Matt Cain (2-7) 30-37, 3 game losing streak
7-12-4 series record
WinRed Sox 1 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-5)
H: Hideki Okajima (11)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (16)
43-24, 2 game winning streak
16-6-2 series record
Highlights: Kaibutsu means monster, and is, of course, Matsuzaka’s nickname in Japan. The first kanji means suspicious, mystery, or apparition and the second signifies thing, object, or manner. One pronunciation for the second symbol, mono, turns the idea in front of it into a tangible category of items. For example, in the word for food, tabemono [食べ物], the first two characters form the root for the concept of eating. Matsuzaka had the Giants’ lineup for a mid-afternoon snack.

The only thing that marred this classic pitching duel was that Fox televised it. At one point generic play-by-play guy called Kevin Youkilis by Mike Lowell’s name. Lowell must surely resent the physical comparison, as his goatee is tidy and Youkilis’s is verging on becoming the facial hair equivalent of Manny Ramirez’s dreadlocks.

Matt Cain remains a tough luck twirler for a hapless San Francisco offense. Ten of his 14 starts have been quality starts and yet he has only two wins to his credit. Of the 25 National League pitchers with ERAs below three, only he and Doug Davis of the Diamondbacks have less than five wins, and Davis has twice as many victories as Cain does.

Cain’s margin of error was as narrow as Fenway’s legroom. His hanging slider to Manny Ramirez in the fourth was the difference between losing in regulation and defeat in extra innings. That is how woebegone the Giants batters were.

It would be a shame if Brian Sabean allowed the scintillating pitching trio of Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Noah Lowry to toil in futility. They can look to the top of their rotation, Barry Zito, to see the outcome of promise unfulfilled. How odd that two teams of such divergent organizational philosophies, the Athletics and the Giants, would find themselves in similar situations albeit at different points in time.

Dave Roberts. (Pause for ovation.) Roberts recited the Giants lineup and because he is who he is no Red Sox fan minded that he pimped his teammates while doing so. Jim Rice was tapped for task for the Red Sox and he proved infinitely less annoying than Reggie Jackson when he acted as if he were still a part of the Yankees clubhouse. (Adjusts homer hearing aid.)

For the first time in 2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t allow a run to score; he lasted seven innings, allowed three hits and three bases on balls, but whiffed eight. He came close to losing the game in the top of the fifth, allowing a leadoff walk to Randy Winn and a seeing-eye single to Ray Durham. Pitching to Barry Bonds with two on and no out usually proves perilous, but Matsuzaka induced a weak tapper to Alex Cora.

Bengie Molina’s atom ball to Cora nearly erased Winn from third, but an out, any out, was essential. Matsuzaka tried to come in on call-up Nate Schierholtz but plunked him to jam the bases. Rich Aurilia, who had struck out in his previous two appearances, was a mere spectator on the pitch that ended the inning.

Aurilia took issue with home plate umpire Charlie Reliford’s call, but how can you argue with a guy that gives away authentic baseballs? In the seventh he gifted a ball to a kid in the first row of the box seats. The child’s eyes were agog as Reliford handed it over while saying “We make it dirty on purpose. Play with it, don’t save it.”

Fortunately that’s not the motto of the Red Sox bullpen aces Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.

Winn and Durham repeated their fifth inning performance with a walk and single combination in the eighth.  Durham was caught by the camera gazing at the figure on the hill with amazement, as if he had never seen anyone with that delivery and repertoire, but he recovered to line a base hit.

With the game in the balance John Farrell sauntered out for a visit with the rookie southpaw. Whatever words were exchanged worked: Bonds struck out without taking a hack, Molina flied out shallowly to right, and pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen poked into a force out to short.

Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew of late have weathered the scorn of fans over their unmet potential. Yet is was this twosome who granted a glimmer of hope for insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. In the day-to-day reversals only witnessed in baseball, Dustin Pedroia grounded into an inning-killing double play less than 24 hours after his best performance of his career so far.

Papelbon manhandled the three hitters he faced with little ado. Only Framingham-born Mark Sweeney saw more than four pitches, but he rolled out second to seal the series for his favorite team. Despite the loss, Sweeney probably enjoys his role as bench player more than Crowd Control Supervisor at Fenway.

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