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Home » June 2009 Game CommentsJune 2009 » Zeroed


Game 68: June 20, 2009
L: Derek Lowe (7-5)
32-35, 1 game losing streak
WinRed Sox3
W: Josh Beckett (8-3)
41-27, 1 game winning streak
Highlights: Lowe, ensconced in the shroud of invulnerability for being on the 2004 roster, got standing ovations walking from the bullpen to the dugout before pitching and when he left the game in the seventh inning. A pitcher that didn’t experience such affection from the crowd, Daisuke Matsuzaka, was placed on the 15-day disabled list and catcher Dusty Brown was called up.

If I were Josh Beckett, witnessing the adulation heaped upon Derek Lowe would annoy me. I might be so piqued as to retaliate with my first complete game shutout since April 10, 2005 and do so with just 94 pitches. The Braves lineup mustered a mere five singles and didn’t work a single base on balls.

I was mildly surprised that Beckett only had three complete game shutouts in his career; his fragile former teammate A.J. Burnett has nine and 2002 rookie classmate Aaron Harang has six. In the three years since Beckett arrived in Boston he has transformed from blister-prone question mark to rock-solid stopper.

Beckett didn’t fend off the Braves single-handedly. Jacoby Ellsbury came up with a spectacular sliding catch of Jeff Francoeur’s slicing hit to the warning track in left-center in the third inning. Much as Jason Bay skimmed to a stop to the wall of the left field stands in Friday’s game, Ellsbury glided right up to the San Francisco sign on the scoreboard. Replays showed it was an actual catch, unlike Nate McLouth’s questionable snare of Bay’s second inning fly ball to left-center.

Boston’s offense snapped out of its two-game slump during which it notched three hits and three runs. In fact, eight and nine-hole hitters Jason Varitek and Nick Green combined to outhit the entire team’s production in Saturday night’s game. Varitek went 2-for-3 and in a post-game interview claimed that knowing Lowe didn’t help him do well against his former teammate.

Little do the media know that Varitek programs all his pitchers, much as the CIA programmed its assassins. If Dennis Eckersley made an effort to read Varitek’s lips he would have seen the Red Sox catcher say “improper work relationship” to Lowe in the fifth inning, after which point the Braves pitcher lost the lead.

Listening to Eckersley is like being transported back to a world of shag carpet, psychedelically-painted vans, and lava lamps. As a Letters to Cleo song accompanied images of slightly damp fans for the Dunkin’ Donuts musical montage, the Hall of Famer asked, “Did I miss anything?” Hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder episodes happen; Eckersley should check in with Bill Lee to figure out how to deal with them.

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