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Home » April 2009 Game CommentsApril 2009 » Stolen


Game 18: April 26, 2009
Yankees1L: Andy Pettitte (2-1)9-9, 3 game losing streak
WinRed Sox4
W: Justin Masterson (2-0)
H: Hunter Jones (1)
H: Michael Bowden (1)
S: Takashi Saito (2)
12-6, 10 game winning streak
Highlights: The all-time tiebreaker between these teams was played last night. Going into Sunday night the head-to-head record stood at 446-446 with 4 ties. Boston now leads the series, 447-446-4. What a game, what a series, what a streak. Jones pitched ⅔ of an inning perfectly; he struck out a batter and didn’t allow his two inherited runners score. Bowden, who debuted last year, pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

Most of the time I watch a game at home on television I instant message with a few other rabid fans, including one of my closest friends. The moment we saw Jacoby Ellsbury make an outright steal of home he wrote, “I saw Billy Hatcher do that at Fenway.”

On August 3, 1992, Hatcher swiped home from under the nose of Juan Guzman of the Blue Jays in the bottom of the third. Hatcher had just been traded from the Reds about a month before. He told me that for the rest of the game the park was crackling with energy despite the Red Sox trailing in the division by 13½ games. My friend wasn’t there for Hatcher’s April 22, 1994 theft against Chuck Finley of the Angels, which was a Red Sox player’s most recent successful piece of outright thievery.

There are quite a few things I can only imagine witnessing live in a game. A no-hitter or perfect game must be at turns exhilarating and anxiety-ridden. I have seen an inside-the-park home run by Kevin Youkilis; that was an ever-building crescendo of insanity.

A triple play by definition must happen quickly; you could be pouring the last few kernels of popcorn down your throat and miss it. After it happens there is no palpable change on the scoreboard except the turning of the innings.

The outright steal of home has all the spontaneity and flawless synchronization of events of a triple play but all the chips have to fall the way of the offense. At the end of it there is the exuberance of a player who outwitted the heedless battery and another run on the board. It is an audacious play, like wearing red on your wedding day. I wonder if the clever father that carried the “Ellsbury, will you marry my daughter?” sign would approve of such attire?

If there were a way for Joe Morgan to spoil such a historic day, he would find it. While Morgan pontificated about how Dustin Pedroia was not a base stealer the screen flashed that Pedroia had the highest percentage of successful steals in franchise history in 2008. Morgan’s own staff is out to sabotage him.

Not that he needs help to show that he is ignoramus. He claimed that Pedroia shortened his swing after Morgan talked to him.

In the fifth after Jason Varitek led off the inning with a walk Steve Phillips (who seems like Bill James in comparison to Morgan) and Morgan opined about how Nick Green should sacrifice bunt in this situation. Do they even know about this team called the Boston Red Sox? Jon Miller lobbed his peers a hanging curve but only Phillips nailed it: within seconds he blathered about how the Red Sox were second to last in sac bunts last year.

But rather than dwell on the negatives of ESPN’s broadcast, I looked back at my notes at how the broadcast opened. Pedroia sat with Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield, and Karl Ravech and gave a bit of an inspirational interview:

Advice that he would give players his size? “Work hard. Doesn’t matter how big you are or how strong you are. You hit it at the right moment and it will go out.”

How to deal with the pressure of a post-MVP season? “Be relaxed and have fun. Play it like you play it in Little League.”

To Winfield: “I hope you’re not mad at me, you’re pretty big.”

If Winfield can forgive the Yankees and George Steinbrenner, certainly nothing Pedroia could ever do would incite his ire.

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