|Game 57: May 30, 2008 ∙ 13 innings|
|Red Sox||5||W: Mike Timlin (3-3)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (15)
|33-24, 1 game winning streak|
|Orioles||2||L: Chad Bradford (2-2)||26-27, 2 game losing streak|
|Highlights: The Red Sox game started before and ended after the Celtics’ beatdown of the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 89-81. Seemingly out of consideration for fans of both Boston teams torn in loyalties, the Red Sox scored only when their crosstown brethren were not in action.|
Early in the game it looked to be one of those typical steamrollings by the Red Sox of the scuffling Orioles. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double to the opposite field and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz manhandled Daniel Cabrera’s second fastball over the shift to plate Ellsbury.
I had to look up “suicide squeeze” because I had no idea why Coco Crisp got caught three-quarters of the way to home with Alex Cora at the dish in the second. Earl Weaver, the best Orioles coach ever, Hallf of Famer, and proponent of the three-run homer would have disapproved of such a strategy. A team such as the Red Sox should try it but rarely.
Manny Ramirez pulled a scorching liner into left for a double, leaving the shell-shocked Cabrera to face the resurgent Mike Lowell with one out and runners on second and third. Lowell got just enough of fastball inside to plate the second and final run of the inning.
Those would be the only runs for the visitors for 12 innings. Bookended between the Red Sox’s runs were tying runs by Baltimore and an epic game of roundball in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Like the Red Sox the Celtics secured an early lead. The Piston fans adopted the fatuous last resort gimmick of sports fans every, the ThunderStix, setting the demise of their team’s championship aspirations to a furious, cacophonous fugue.
Detroit led 68-60 at the end of the third. The quarter ended in yet another flourish of infuriating officiating: with 1:35 left Bennett Salvatore called an offensive foul on Paul Pierce when Rip Hamilton clearly made contact with Pierce as he squared up and made a three. The points were wiped from the board and the ThunderStix rumbled their approval.
The Celtics roared back in the fourth, outscoring the home team 29 to 13. The exodus of mercurial Detroit fans began in earnest; very few stayed to thank or cheer the Pistons despite their loss. Perhaps they had to rush to get on the Red Wings’ bandwagon.
Meanwhile, the majority of the crowd remaining at Camden Yards were Red Sox fans, even as the game entered its thirteenth inning. Red Sox pitcher Class of 2005 Chad Bradford took the mound to pitch to Ramirez and was immediately victimized by Melvin Mora’s galley-west toss over Kevin Millar’s glove. Ramirez scored on Lowell’s liner to left for the lead.
It was not so much the Red Sox’s rejuvenated offense that would extend the frame but rather the Orioles’ slovenly play. Freddie Bynum heaved a throw well right of Millar allowing two more runs to plate.
The copious innings did not dull Boston’s reflexes. With his bare hand Lowell plucked Adam Jones’s chopper out of thin air to put out the rookie for the first out. Jonathan Papelbon closed out the game with two strikeouts, including one of righty Jay Payton who batted in place of the southpaw-batting Bynum. Even late in a losing effort Dave Trembley saw fit to engage in a bit of didactic benching.
One can only hope that David Stern will do the same for the NBA Finals with the deficient officials that have littered the parquet throughout the playoffs.