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Home » 2007 PostseasonOctober 2007 » Sayonara Hōmuran [さよならホームラン]

Sayonara Hōmuran [さよならホームラン]

ALDS Game 2: October 5, 2007
Angels 3 L: Justin Speier (0-1) 0-2
WinRed Sox 6 W: Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) 2-0
Highlights: Manny Ramirez launched his first postseason sayonara hōmuran, or walk-off home run, for the second win of this series. It was also his first game-ender as a Red Sox player. He looked uncomfortably constrained in his suit, like a schoolboy garbed in his dress code best. But Manny was still Manny, saying, “When you don’t feel good and you still get hits, that’s when you know you’re a bad man.”

Danny Vinik deserves a notation in the accounts of last night’s historic events. The 17-year old plucked a Manny Ramirez foul pop out of Jeff Mathis’s glove in the fifth inning, allowing the at bat to continue.

In the pantheon of fan interaction with the game that includes Steve Bartman and Jeffrey Maier, Vinik stands above them because he knew when to insert himself into the play and was within his rights to do so. His seat probably cost at least ten times more than Bartman or Maier’s, even adjusted for inflation. The son of a Red Sox limited partner, other members in his posh section requested autographs and Stephen King gave him an “atta boy” shoulder clapping.

Meanwhile, Ramirez walked to load the bases with one out and Mike Lowell lofted a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game. The fifth-inning run would be the first runs since the first inning. The local nine salvaged the lead early in Kelvim Escobar’s outing with a farrago of walks and singles, capped by J.D. Drew’s two-RBI single up the middle. It was his first multi-RBI playoff game as well as his first runners plated in the postseason as a member of the Red Sox.

The bottom of the fifth reversed the momentum that had been going the visitors’ way. In the top of the fifth with two out, starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was pulled after an inefficient 96-pitch effort. He left with a line of seven hits, three earned runs, three walks, and three strikeouts; neither good enough to win nor bad enough to lose.

Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon commandeered the listing Red Sox ship, combining for four and one-third innings of no-hit ball. Terry Francona deftly captained his crew while Mike Scioscia’s complement, already weakened, was one man short with Vladimir Guerrero’s desertion in the eighth.

Scioscia’s micromanaging, replete with pinch runners and plundered bases, could not overcome his lineup’s fundamentally effete nature. Where he could have best interceded he didn’t. With two out and a man on second Scioscia intentionally walked David Ortiz but then opted to pitch to Ramirez.

The sample sizes of Ramirez and Lowell against Francisco Rodriguez were slight: Ramirez was 2-for-7 (.286 BA, .286 OBP, and .429 slugging) while Lowell was 1-for-4 (.400 BA, .500 OBP, and .800 slugging). Such splits superficially justify Scioscia’s course of action, but it was clear the Red Sox wanted to board their charter flight to the West Coast with a home sweep under their belts and nothing the former catcher could devise would halt them.

The Angel closer’s delivery to home is as barbarous as number 24’s swing is refined. As Rodriguez’s ferocious delivery left his body contorted on the mound, 60' 6" away Ramirez stood, resplendent. His arms were outstretched triumphantly and 37,706 mirrored his stance.

No one needed to see how the cannon shot cleared the left field wall nor where it landed on Lansdowne Street to know that the ball was annihilated. The crack off the bat and the crowd’s response tolled doom for the Angels.

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