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Home » June 2009 Game CommentsJune 2009 » Persevere


Game 61: June 12, 2009 ∙ 13 innings
WinRed Sox5
H: Hideki Okajima (11)
BS: Ramon Ramirez (1)
W: Takashi Saito (2-0)
S: Daniel Bard (1)
37-24, 4 game winning streak
L: Kyle Kendrick (0-1)
35-24, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Instead of Heidi Watney, Rocco Baldelli conducted a pre-game interview. The interviewee, J.D. Drew, said that he thought the Red Sox sought him out so that when the team played in Philadelphia he would be the fans’ primary target rather than Terry Francona.

Rocco Baldelli and J.D. Drew also discussed pitchers hitting. “I’m just hoping they survive,” Drew said with concern in his voice.

“Yeah, it’s embarrassing,” affirmed Baldelli.

Jon Lester allowed the first run of the game in the second. Raul Ibanez singled, advanced to third on Shane Victorino’s double, and crossed home with Pedro Feliz’s ground out to Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis threw across the diamond to David Ortiz’s waiting glove. The first baseman pro tem juggled the ball but recovered in time for the out.

From that point on Lester reasserted his pitching dominance. He didn’t allow another baserunner until he walked Jayson Werth in the sixth inning. For the third consecutive game Lester struck out 10 or more batters, becoming the first Red Sox southpaw to do so. Dave Roberts is a peach of a guy, but occasionally he states the obvious or repeats Don Orsillo’s questions in the form of an answer. “He’s in pretty elite company,” remarked Roberts on Lester’s historic feat.

“Yes, he’s all by himself,” quipped Orsillo. With Jerry Remy on the mend, Announcer Boy has enjoyed being the cleverest man in the booth.

Despite its reputation as a hitters’ park, Citizens Bank Park hasn’t ranked in the top 10 for fields favoring hitters since 2005 (third) and 2006 (eighth). Youkilis and Drew were more than happy to perpetuate that reputation with their home runs in the fourth and fifth innings respectively. Were those “boos” or “Drews” as he circled the bases?

Phildelphians would jeer at Mohandas Gandhi or Albert Einstein if they were still alive. “What, you too good to eat our cheesesteak? Boo!” “Hey, you! Cosmological constant, right! Nice try, Einstein! Boo!” (Writing about Einstein made me think of this classic “Kids in the Hall” sketch.)

Ryan Howard homered to tie the game in the ninth, most likely to lessen the chance that his team’s fans would slash his tires. Instead of former closer Takashi Saito, Terry Francona went with Ramon Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth.

Jonathan Papelbon could only watch from the pen; he had been used in the previous two games and no one wanted a repeat of his 2006 shoulder injury. So he sat on the sidelines, perhaps writing out his check the league office for his $1,000 pace-of-game fine.

Saito ended up in the game anyway, taking the mound in the twelfth to relieve Justin Masterson, who turned in 2⅓ innings of solid pitching. Masterson had just taken a spill on the infield trying to chase down Carlos Ruiz’s bunt, ending up rather comically on his bum (insert Dennis Eckersley’s belief that the junk in pitchers’ trunks help with their power).

Nick Green artfully fielded Jimmy Rollins’s ground ball, gloving it just as he stepped on second. The Red Sox shortstop then fired to first with his momentum taking him towards the mound to nail Rollins at first.

The thirteenth inning was an auspicious one for the visiting team. Jason Bay and pinch-hitting Julio Lugo knocked in back-to-back singles and Jason Varitek jammed the basepaths with a five-pitch walk.

The bottom third of the lineup came through for the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury snuck a single under Chase Utley’s glove to break the tie, Green sacrificed to Ibanez for the lead, and pinch hitter Mike Lowell singled for an insurance run.

Daniel Bard walked Utley to begin the bottom half of the thirteenth but battled back to strike out two formidable bats, Werth and Howard. Ibanez got hit with 99 MPH heat, something he’ll hopefully remember for the rest of the series. Two men on, two out, and facing the defending World Champions didn’t unnerve Bard: he dispatched Victorino with a biting slider inside.

So much for the Eckersley Theorem of the Impact of Gluteal Mass on Pitching Efficacy.

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