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Home » July 2007 Game CommentsJuly 2007 » Center


Game 81: July 2, 2007
Rangers 3 L: Brandon McCarthy (4-5) 34-48, 1 game losing streak
9-15-3 series record
WinRed Sox 7 W: Kason Gabbard (2-0) 50-31, 1 game winning streak
18-7-3 series record
Highlights: At the exact midpoint of the season the local nine tallied their 50th win. Despite the spate of recent disappointing losses, this team has weathered injuries and slumps to have the second best record in the majors. Eric Hinske demonstrated his super-sub powers by more than adequately covering for the hobbled Kevin Youkilis.

It took facing a pitcher returning to baseball after a stint on the DL, but the Red Sox offense bloomed at last. The last time Boston scored seven runs was on June 26 against the Mariners and it wasn’t enough for the win. This time everyone did their job and the Red Sox salvaged a tie in the final series against the Rangers.

Brandon McCarthy came to the Rangers by way of trade. Texas turned over John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jacob Rasner for the lanky starter. Having either U.S. Cellular Field or Rangers Ballpark as a home field is unappetizing for a pitcher as they rank in the sixth and eighth spots respectively in park factor for home runs. McCarthy was probably ashen to be shuttled from a World Series champion with two consecutive 90+ win seasons.

The White Sox have taken a nosedive into the lower rungs of the American League and now have more in common with teams like the Devil Rays, Rangers, and Royals. It’s doubtful McCarthy misses them all that much now.

The other thing he misses is control and command of his pitches. McCarthy lasted three and two-thirds innings only, relinquishing four earned runs while walking three and striking out one.

Eric Hinske led off the boisterous third with single to right. Jacoby Ellsbury followed suit and both advanced on Julio Lugo’s sacrifice bunt.

An overzealous fan touched Dustin Pedroia’s bounding ball right, but because of Lugo’s bunt two runs would still score. For all the abuse directed in the shortstop’s direction, it was his success that rendered a fan’s mistake less costly.

Manny Ramirez continued to get great loft if not enough distance on the ball; his deep double plated Pedroia and hinted at the homers that should follow.

Ellsbury was a firecracker in the fourth. He led off with his first hit to the outfield and swiped second on the tiring McCarthy. When a pitcher walks Lugo, a manager knows his hurler is gassed.

Willie Eyre replaced McCarthy on the mound. The change in height or approach confused Gerald Laird; he was unable to block a wild pitch and it skipped far enough away from home for Ellsbury to score from second base.

Who knew there was enough foul territory for that to happen? The way the young center fielder sprang up from his slide reminded me of Dave Roberts’s spin at home in Game 4.

The Rangers clawed within one run of the Red Sox in the top of the fifth. Brad Wilkerson deposited a three-run bomb into the visitor’s bullpen, not only shocking because it was Wilkerson but also because I just recently acquired him one of my fantasy leagues, which is usually a certain recipe for a player’s undoing.

Unlike recent contests when an opposition’s rally would go unanswered, the Red Sox coolly responded to Eyre’s offerings. After David Ortiz missed a homer by less than ten feet, Ramirez and J.D. Drew earned consecutive bases on balls. Mike Lowell flied out but Jason Varitek sustained the pressure with liner to left to jam the bases.

Hinske lighted that spark that caused him to be named Rookie of the Year in 2002 in the bottom of the same inning. His fly ball evaded even Kenny Lofton in center. Lofton, though long in tooth, proved himself nearly as spry as he was in his Cleveland days. The bases-clearing triple granted enough breathing room to allow even Mike Timlin a turn on the hill.

Perhaps to bolster his All-Star campaign, Hideki Okajima was called upon to close out the series finale. Always one for variety, he coaxed a ground out, aimed a strikeout, and induced a fly out to end the game (one where Ellsbury asserted his position and called off Drew). Chants of the reliever’s name wafted through the air: O-ka-ji-ma! Clap, clap, clap clap clap! He’s in second place now and you have until 6 PM this Thursday to vote.

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