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Home » September 2007 Game CommentsSeptember 2007 » Rancho [乱調]

Rancho [乱調]

Game 138: September 3, 2007
Blue Jays 10 L: Jesse Litsch (5-7) 70-67, 1 game losing streak
21-15-7 series record
WinRed Sox 13 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (14-11)
H: Manny Delcarmen (8)
H: Hideki Okajima (26)
H: Mike Timlin (7)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (32)
83-55, 3 game winning streak
28-12-5 series record
Magic number: 18
Highlights: Matsuzaka’s sixth inning could be described as rancho, the Japanese term for bad control. Riot, war, and disorder are symbolized with 乱; when combined with 調 (tone, tempo, or tendency), alludes to a pitcher being out of rhythm. It was home plate umpire Mike Everitt who was out of sorts, however; Everitt’s strike zone was narrow early in the game and widened as the innings wore on and the pitchers looked more like him. Perhaps the “avid Republican” was permitting his bias to show. Everitt would be an excellent case study for Daniel Hamermesh et al., who recently published an article on racial discrimination by umpires entitled “Strike Three: Umpires’ Demand for Discrimination.”

The pre-game show gave visual evidence that Matt Clement still breathes. Who knows how sharp his arm is, but his wits are quick enough that he quickly evaded Tina Cervasio’s question about being the fantasy baseball commissioner for the Red Sox employee league.

Since Uniform Gate failed, Cervasio all but gift wrapped the next red herring to be vigorously pursued by Bud Selig’s hooligans: fantasy baseball shenanigans in the Fenway clubhouse. Film at 11.

For the majority of his outing Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched decently enough. It became apparent that Mike Everitt wasn’t going to be generous on the corners, and this deficiency forced the Red Sox starter to leave too much of the ball over the plate.

He evaded peril until the sixth inning. Troy Glaus’s three-run homer built upon the third baseman’s success in the fourth. He had lined a single into left after exceedingly dim fans in the box seats hindered Eric Hinske’s glove.

Both Alex Rios and Frank Thomas scored with the shot into the home bullpen. They had reached on a bloop and an infield ricochet respectively, so Matsuzaka wasn’t being completely shelled. Yet.

Lyle Overbay’s ground ball single did not stir Terry Francona but Gregg Zaun’s liner into right did. Matsuzaka left the game in Javier Lopez’s hands with two on and one out.

Lopez was surprisingly ineffective, allowing both inherited runners to cross the plate and failing to notch a single out.

Against his wishes Francona had to go to his best bullpen arms to put away the game. Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin, and Jonathan Papelbon were all summoned to put away the  first game of the series.

Fortunately the Red Sox hitters had built enough of a lead in the early innings to keep ahead of the offensive outburst in the eighth. Every home batter had at least one hit and Mike Lowell remained hot. He scorched a circuit clout into the first row of the Monster seats with greenhorns Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia on base.

Lowell was intentionally walked in the third to get to J.D. Drew, who again dropped hints of the hitter he once was. The right fielder responded to the slight by arcing a sac fly into center. He duplicated the feat in the fourth and also doubled in the sixth.

It was an ugly slug fest compounded by uglier miscues. Troy Glaus had a ball slip through his wickets in the fourth and Jason Frasor balked in a run in the sixth. The balk may well have been a make-up call for Kerwin Danley’s mistake. The second base umpire wrongly called Hinske out at second when Ray Olmedo’s jump to snare Aaron Hill’s relay clearly took the Toronto shortstop off the sack.

In the grotesqueness there were snatches of beauty, like Ellsbury’s diving lunge for last out of the sixth. Even Frank Thomas had to smile at that.

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