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Home » September 2007 Game CommentsSeptember 2007 » Heshioru [へし折る]

Heshioru [へし折る]

Game 148: September 14, 2007
WinYankees 8 W: Brian Bruney (3-1)
H: Luis Vizcaino (11)
S: Mariano Rivera (27)
84-63, 1 game winning streak
25-20-2 series record
Red Sox 7 H: Mike Timlin (8)
BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (3, 1-3)
89-59, 1 game losing streak
31-12-5 series record
Magic number: 11
Highlights: Heshioru is the Japanese verb equivalent to smash, snap, or break. In baseball terms, it means to saw off a batter. With maddening regularity Mariano Rivera does this in nearly every appearance, just as he did to Bobby Kielty in the ninth. The word is also used in a phrase that translates literally to “snapping the nose of the arrogant person,” where in English we would say “bring down a peg or two” or “knock someone off their high horse.”

Just as the hopes of Red Sox fans for a series sweep against the Yankees were shattered last night, so was one of my long-held beliefs.

“May you live in interesting times,” according to Stephen E. DeLong, may not be an ancient Chinese curse after all. A geologist by training, his research covered the English-speaking lineage the of the aphorism thoroughly. The earliest reference given to DeLong was a translation of The Secret of the Golden Flower, published in English in 1931, but that version described no such curse. Cary Baynes translated the work from Chinese to English and Richard Wilhelm from German to English. Perhaps something was lost in translation.

The enigmatic epigram, artificial or actual, still resonates, especially when looking back at this most interesting game.

DeMarlo Hale made an interesting call in the third when he sent David Ortiz on Mike Lowell’s single to center field with one out. The designated hitter was out at the dish because of Melky Cabrera’s faultlessly thrown relay. After Kevin Youkilis walked, J.D. Drew reached on a ham-handed attempt at a ground ball by Jason Giambi.

The ball trickled far enough for Lowell to score, so had Ortiz still been on the basepaths he would have scored, too.

Interestingly enough, one baserunner more, one chemically-enhanced home run less, and the game would have been won by the home team.

Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jason Varitek were on the same page, unlike their three previous collaborations. The rookie right-hander turned in a near-quality start, allowing just two earned runs over five and two-third innings while walking five and striking out seven.

The toll taken from Matsuzaka’s early toil showed in later innings. He gritted out a two on, no out jam in the fourth. Jorge Posada led off with a double and traversed the platter on Hideki Matsui’s triple off the base of the curve in the right field wall. Then Giambi walked on five pitches. Matsuzaka toyed with Robinson Cano, exploiting the infielder’s lack of patience to whiff him on a high fastball. Cabrera then rolled over to Julio Lugo and decided to slide into first, resulting in an inning-ending 6-4-3 twin killing.

When Matsuzaka walked Cabrera in the sixth, the final batter he faced, to load the bases after coming from behind in the count, the starter grimaced and turned his face skyward in exasperation. It wasn’t a scintillating outing, but departing the mound with a 5-1 lead seemed sufficient. Terry Francona tapped the brim of his charge’s cap as he took the ball from his hands.

The Red Sox rallied behind their rookies the fourth. Bobby Kielty doubled past a stumbling Alex Rodriguez and stood at second as Matsui dug out the ball from the left field corner. Jacoby Ellsbury blooped a single into shallow center and swiped second despite being picked off. Dustin Pedroia smoked an eye-level pitch to center for two runs. Pedroia scored the third and final run on consecutive singles by Ortiz and Lowell.

The local nine tacked on two more runs in the sixth thanks to Giambi’s interesting defense and even more interesting bullpen. Lugo began the mini-rally with a line shot into center. Ortiz got a free pass and should have been part of a double play to end the inning with Lowell’s fly out to right. Giambi couldn’t handle the relay and the inning continued. Youkilis and Drew both singled and drove in one run each.

Given the Boston bullpen’s consistency for the greater part of this season, a 7-2 lead should have been insurmountable. But Hideiki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon combined to surrender six runs in the eighth.

The southpaw set-up man unraveled with such rapidity (back-to-back homers to Giambi and Cano, a Cabrera base on balls, and a Johnny Damon double) that Papelbon didn’t have enough warm-up tosses.

In five pitches off the fingers of Papelbon four Yankees scored. Those were enough to get the closer limber. He induced a ground out from Posada and then struck out Matsui and Giambi with overpowering heat. An interesting turn of events, indeed.

I’m most interested in the information that Giambi proffered to league officials. Whatever it was has allowed him to remain on the Yankee roster without reprisal and he continues to support his team’s efforts to contend against (so far) untarnished teams.

Perhaps MLB doesn’t need Roger Goodell, but it could do without an omnipotent players’ union that has Bud Selig kowtowing before its every whim.

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