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Home » September 2008 Game CommentsSeptember 2008 » Autumnal


Game 156: September 22, 2008
WinIndians 4 W: Zach Jackson (1-3)
H: Rafael Perez (25)
H: Rafael Betancourt (12)
S: Jensen Lewis (12)
79-77, 7 game winning streak
Red Sox 3 L: Josh Beckett (12-10) 91-65, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Losing these one-run games has been a vexing aspect of this season. While the Red Sox’s losing record on the road has been commented upon, this is true for all the teams in the AL East. I think the team’s 19-23 record in one-run contests stands in stark relief to the Rays’ 28-17 mark. A few runs here and there and you have the difference between the wild card and the division title.

Astronomically the calendar turned from summer to fall at 11:44 AM yesterday, making last night’s match-up the first official fall game of the season. It is this time of year, when the morning frost limns the landscape and apples ripen in the trees, that you want your team’s bats to warm up.

Other signs of autumnal baseball are chowder being sold in the stands (although with New England springs, that happens in April as well) and the constant meditation on the magic number.

The Indians seemed intent on ruining this series as the Red Sox scuttled their playoff hopes last year. Even though the game meant nothing to Cleveland, they still have their pride to maintain. When Hideki Okajima drifted over to talk to Masahide Kobayashi, an Indians coach made as if to keep them from talking. The coach did so in a light-hearted manner, but the incident did reveal an undercurrent of animus between the teams.

Josh Beckett’s comments on Ryan Garko’s body armor (“Maybe he has a doctor’s note or something”) has set the stage for furture conflict. Garko, you will recall, was the Indians player whose quote about championship champagne on the road tasting sweet incited Boston in last year’s ALCS.

Luis Tiant threw out the first pitch and the moment was being filmed by the Farrelly brothers for their upcoming biopic about the pitcher. Carl Beane exhorted the audience to chant Tiant’s first name, but his instructions were unclear most of the fans didn’t know when or how to cheer.

The film crew could have acquired some useful crowd noise in the seventh inning. Zach Jackson, who had out-pitched Beckett by a smidge, was relieved by Rafael Perez. The left-handed set-up man surrendered consecutive singles to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. If only David Ortiz homered as he did in the fifth, but it was not to be. Kevin Youkilis’s double off the wall just missed being a home run, but his RBI brought the local nine within a run.

With the bases loaded, one out, and a chance to clinch a playoff spot in the balance, it was as loud as I have heard Fenway. Rookie Jed Lowrie got jobbed by Bruce Dreckman with a called strikeout and Mark Kotsay flied out to left to staunch the rally.

The Red Sox will make the playoffs, but the nagging doubts I had about the 2005 team’s postseason chances because of their pitching has now flipped over to the other side of the ball. Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester can go toe to toe with any other team’s rotation, but the run support that backs them is lacking. Red Sox fans went home disappointed, but I fear further disenchantment in October.

Pictures from Monday’s game to be posted later this evening.

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