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Home » September 2007 Game CommentsSeptember 2007 » Seikan [生還]

Seikan [生還]

Game 155: September 22, 2007
WinRed Sox 8 BS: Javier Lopez (2)
W: Eric Gagne (4-2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (36)
92-63, 2 game winning streak
32-14-5 series record
Divisional magic number: 6
Devil Rays 6 H: Dan Wheeler (17)
BS, L: Al Reyes (4, 2-4)
63-92, 5 game losing streak
15-30-6 series record
Highlights: Outside of baseball seikan means to survive or to come back from the dead. The first character 生 in this context means life while the second symbol 還 means return. In the world of Japanese baseball, the word means to reach home plate. The Red Sox did both last night to bring baseball to Fenway in October.

Daisuke Matsuzaka’s line looks terrible in isolation: six and two-thirds innings pitched, six hits, five earned runs, three walks, seven strikeouts, and one home run. He was responsible Carlos Peña’s solo circuit clout in the fourth, an inning where the starter also gave up another run on consecutive singles.

After two quick outs in the seventh Matsuzaka walked two batters, prompting Terry Francona to call in Javier Lopez to face Peña. It was the correct move according to the book, but the small sample size of the resurgent slugger’s success against Lopez may rewrite that particular chapter. The book may also need an addendum about motivated players who exact a measure of revenge against a team that spurned them.

Lopez got ahead of Peña 0-2 but then wafted unappetizing pitches away that the Northeastern graduate would not bite. The count went full and the Devil Rays first baseman knew exactly what the southpaw side-armer would be serving.

With one swing Tampa Bay blazed ahead of the visiting team; Peña’s three-run homer enlivened the outnumbered Tampa Bay fans. As the Yankees had already won the second extra-innings tilt against the Blue Jays in as many days, any loss last night, let alone a late-inning comeback by one of the worst teams in the league, would be distressing.

That shot undid the lead built by perhaps the most unlikely of sources, J.D. Drew. The right fielder doubled in the fourth and homered in the sixth, providing three RBIs for his teammates.

Dan Wheeler assumed the mound in the eighth and dispatched the heart of the Red Sox order in order. David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and the rejuvenated Drew couldn’t retake the lead.

Meanwhile in Detroit, the Tigers were about to fall to their division’s cellar dwellers. A Motor City loss and a Hub comeback meant October baseball at Fenway.

Jason Varitek joined his Scott Boras stablemate in improbable clutch hits with a leadoff longball in the ninth to tie the game.

In his postgame interview Eric Hinske would say he never heard it so loud in a dome before. This is from a man who played most of his career in a dome. The amiable bench player contributed to the win with his ground ball skipped along the first base line.

Coco Crisp worked Al Reyes for eight pitches but ultimately popped out to third. His at bat may have fatigued the 37-year old closer and allowed Julio Lugo to get a bead on the pitcher’s repertoire.

Lugo turned his wiry frame on the first pitch he saw, a fastball in. The ball soared into the stands just a bit further than Varitek’s. The shortstop’s celebratory jaunt around the bases was premature since Tampa Bay would have three more outs to attempt another comeback, but the shortstop reveled with the knowledge that Jonathan Papelbon was warmed up.

There was no championship pile-up in Tropicana Field but rather restrained handshakes and hugs. Whatever postgame festivities there were the media were not privy to them. They were almost Patriot-like in their return to postseason baseball.

This is not a bunch of idiots; this may be something better.

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