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Home » April 2008 Game CommentsApril 2008 » Zen


Game 20: April 20, 2008
Rangers 5 BS, L: C.J. Wilson (1, 0-1) 7-12, 3 game losing streak
WinRed Sox 6 W: Tim Wakefield (2-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (7)
13-7, 4 game winning streak
Highlights: In 1997 Bob Ryan published The Four Seasons, which was about pivotal seasons in the four local teams: the 1975 Bruins, the 1986 Celtics, the 1996 Patriots, and the 1967 Red Sox. In 2008 one could write about the four seasons in one year, with the Bruins and Celtics making the playoffs, the Patriots preparing to avenge the humiliation in the Super Bowl, and the Red Sox embarking upon their title defense. In the book of this season, this game will be prominently featured, perhaps along with FanGraph’s Win Probability summary.

For no one could resist the story of an aging, loyal pitcher with a fluky pitch persevering through eight innings for the win while the young bucks around him struggled to get through seven. The contrast between Tim Wakefield’s placid acceptance of the leadoff homer by Ian Kinsler and the three-run shot of Milton Bradley in the sixth compared to C.J. Wilson’s inescapable deterioration in eighth was striking.

The very essence of Wakefield’s signature pitch is that not even he knows where it will end, necessitating a Zen mind. One run behind, five runs behind, it matters not.

Manny Ramirez is usually of this philosophy: his mind only in the moment, not tormented by past failures or future worries but simply reacting to the pitch. But today for some reason the left fielder tangled with home plate umpire Paul Emmel about balls and strikes and was ejected in the second inning.

The superstar in the lineup, or not in the lineup, it mattered not.

Two bases loaded situations in the sixth and seventh innings not turning into runs... now, that mattered. The Zen mind requires emptiness, such as the emptying of loaded bases when they are full.

The Red Sox embraced absence in the seventh by hitting to where the Rangers weren’t. Building on the two runs scored in the seventh, Jacoby Ellsbury blooped a single into no-man’s land with two out and was doubled in by Jed Lowrie in the eighth. Next David Ortiz sneaked another single that nearly skipped into the outfield but Kinsler dashed almost to the first base line to stop the ball from bleeding through. Kinsler forgot about his middle infield counterpart Lowrie, who scored on Texas’s absentmindedness.

Pinch hitter Dustin Pedroia doubled to the triangle and capered along the same path as Josh Hamilton’s errant throw. Hank Blalock stumbled after the ball and nearly tagged Pedroia, but the second baseman eluded the touch with one step to his left and a lunge to the sack.

The bases filled just as Wilson’s mind flooded with doubt. Sean Casey’s mind cleared as he fouled off a couple of pitches and realized he was swinging at balls rather than strikes. Action through inaction, he walked the winning run in.

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