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Home » July 2007 Game CommentsJuly 2007 » Flitter


Game 98: July 22, 2007
White Sox 5 L: Jon Garland (7-7) 43-54, 3 game losing streak
12-16-4 series record
WinRed Sox 8 W: Tim Wakefield (11-9)
H: Hideki Okajima (16)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (22)
59-39, 3 game winning streak
20-9-4 series record
Highlights: Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell both propelled their 15th homers of the season, the former in the first and the latter in the fifth. Both were three-run shots but mirrored each other; Ramirez’s was an opposite field shot that Mike Timlin cradled in a towel and Lowell’s a ball pulled into the Monster seats to be gathered by a jubilant fan.

Jon Garland may have been the starter, but the real story to me was that the only two knuckleball pitchers currently in the majors were on the mound Sunday afternoon.

Charlie Haeger relieved Garland in the fifth after the former had walked two batters in succession with two out. Ozzie Guillen awoke from his afternoon nap to pull Garland when he surrendered a three-run blast by Mike Lowell.

A.J. Pierzynski must have been excited to have the chance to be the backstop for Haeger in the late innings of what should have been a much bigger blowout.

Butterfly ball aficionados were thrilled that for the first time since September 15, 2000, when the Tigers’ Steve Sparks faced off against Tim Wakefield, two practitioners of this arcane pitch shared the hill. The Red Sox edged Detroit 7-6, overcoming their AL Central opposition much as they did against the White Sox yesterday.

Haeger breaking into the majors as a knuckleballer at age 23 is highly unusual. Rany Jazayerli chronicled Haeger’s progress and potential in Baseball Prospectus at the beginning of this season.

The typical career trajectory of a knuckleballer is as erratic as the flight of the pitch itself. They are typically traditional pitchers who failed at standard fastball, curveball, slider repertoire. Wakefield was a failed position player who found his niche by mastering (if one can truly be said to control such a capricious being) the oddball grip.

With luck and time, perhaps Charlie Zink will overcome his atrocious 2005 showing and maintain the consistency he’s shown in Portland so far. Zink threw a complete game on June 19, walking two and striking out eight while allowing six hits and a single earned run. Amazingly, not one runner swiped a base that day.

He’s 27 years old, but in knuckleball years he may as well be a teenager, Haeger notwithstanding. Someday, maybe soon or perhaps years from now when Wakefield hangs up his spikes, there might yet be a match-up between the knucklers named Charlie playing for the Soxes.

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