|Game 135: August 31, 2007|
|Orioles||9||W: Kurt Birkins (1-1)
H: Chad Bradford (16)
S: Danys Baez (3)
|59-74, 1 game winning streak
17-24-2 series record
|Red Sox||8||L: Julian Tavarez (7-10)||80-55, 4 game losing streak
27-12-5 series record
|Highlights: Mike Timlin’s 1,000th game was not the scrapbook moment he would have liked. He all but put the game out of reach in the sixth by allowing an inherited runner to score, giving up two sacrifice flys, and surrendering a three-run homer to Nick Markakis. The 12 other pitchers who have pitched in 1,000 or more games include Dennis Eckersley, Jesse Orosco, and Hoyt Wilhelm. It is a hodgepodge of history: lefties with long shelf life, a knuckleballer, and righties who, like Timlin, pitch in the age of relief specialists.|
With J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez, and Tim Wakefield in various stages of disrepair, September call-up time came just in time. The Red Sox announced that Clay Buchholz, Royce Clayton, Bryan Corey, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brandon Moss will reinforce the clubhouse for the stretch into the playoffs. A solid mixture of veterans and rooks will hopefully reinvigorate the club’s flagging health.
Today all that stands between a 2007-high five losses in a row is Buchholz’s rookie arm, a banged-up lineup, and a team fifteen games under .500.
As soon as I learned C.B. Bucknor was the home plate umpire I had a sense of foreboding about this game. Although Bucknor did have a sensitive part of his impinged upon in the second, it wasn’t his poor strike zone judgment that hastened the home team’s defeat but rather deficient pitching.
David Ortiz, heedless of the disintegration of the lineup around him, continued to mash. He propelled a two-out solo shot into Mike Timlin’s waiting towel in the first inning. He grounded into an inning-ending double play in the eighth, which seems to be all the rage amongst Boston batters.
Kevin Cash, Bobby Kielty, and Jason Varitek also rolled over to kill rallies in the fourth, fifth, and ninth innings respectively. Cash was also the final batter in the second (grounded out with one on) and sixth (struck out with one on).
Kielty was similarly futile. He struck out looking with two on and two out in the third.
Of the bench players, only Eric Hinske filled in admirably. He had a Ramirez-like performance with a 3-for-4 showing, four runs batted in, and an awkward dive after Jay Payton’s liner that got by the left fielder for a double in the third.
Dustin Pedroia padded his Rookie of the Year resume with four hits in five at bats and a defensive gem in the second. The second baseman nabbed a sharp grounder that eluded Julian Tavarez’s glove and threw across his body to quash Aubrey Huff’s infield single attempt.
The Rookie of the Year award is at least one of those accomplishments that isn’t completely tarnished by the gratuitous catering to reputation. Coco Crisp won’t win the Gold Glove because of incumbency of Torii Holt, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vernon Wells, but he well deserves recognition for his consistency and flash in center.
Jonathan Papelbon owes Crisp some moose meat jerky for the outfielder’s outstanding nab of Corey Patterson’s ninth inning fly ball. With the bases loaded and two out Crisp snared the final out on the run. Given Patterson’s speed, had the ball evaded Crisp’s glove an inside-the-parker could have been in the offing.
The Yankees also lost to an even more dismal team, so the Red Sox remained ensconced in the division lead ahead by five games.