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Home » July 2009 Game CommentsJuly 2009 » Absolution


Game 78: July 1, 2009 ∙ 11 innings
WinRed Sox6W: Ramon Ramirez (5-2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (20)
48-30, 1 game winning streak
Orioles5BS: George Sherrill (3)
L: Danys Baez (4-2)

35-43, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Joe Castiglione summed it up best: snoozer early, grinder late. Josh Beckett gave up runs in four of the seven innings he pitched, including a pair of leadoff homers in the second and fourth innings. Beckett was outpitched by greenhorn Brad Bergesen; the right-handed starter gave up only one run over eight innings of work and struck out six.

How hard is it to not yell when at work listening to the outcome of the rubber game? I found out this past Wednesday. I thought I had to go to a couple of meetings that afternoon, but after lunch Outlook cancellation notices came quick and fast. Coincidence?

The ninth inning comeback started with Dustin Pedroia’s five-pitch base on balls proffered by Jim Johnson. Since being dropped down to the two-hole the second baseman has returned to All-Star form, hopefully in time for voters to send him to the Midsummer Classic for the second year in a row.

By the numbers, Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill are more deserving, but who will talk smack to senior circuit opposition if those milquetoasts go to St. Louis instead of Pedroia? Pedroia is so good he got credited for a tag of Felix Pie even though the ball was in his bare hand. Is that what they mean by slick fielding?

Kevin Youkilis homered after Pedroia’s free pass to cut his team’s deficit to two runs. Youkilis was in a back-and-forth battle with Mark Teixeira to make the All-Star team’s roster, but let the record show that Youkilis has produced irrespective of his spot in the lineup while Teixeira needed Alex Rodriguez’s protection to jump start his season.

In relief of Johnson, George Sherrill mowed down Jason Bay (who garnered a platinum sombrero but was perhaps distracted by studying for his citizenship exam) and David Ortiz with laughable ease. If two of Boston’s best sluggers were sent to the dugout on just four pitches a piece, what chance did lower half of the lineup have?

A pretty good one, it turned out. Jacoby Ellsbury looped a single into center field and Jeff Bailey (recalled in the wake of Mike Lowell’s trip to the disabled list) and Jason Varitek both worked walks to load the bases. Varitek may have swung at ball four, but first plate umpire Mike Winters ruled the move a check swing.

Terry Francona swapped out Nick Green for Rocco Baldelli and had Julio Lugo pinch run for Varitek. Both moves led to the Red Sox come-from-behind extra innings win.

I think that Baldelli’s and Lugo’s bench player status helped then in key game situations. Without a large number of at bats, opponents don’t have the data to optimize their defensive alignments or plan their pitching strategy. Baldelli snuck a single by the glove of Robert Andino for two runs to tie the game in the ninth. Lugo drove in Ellsbury in the eleventh with a grounder through the hole for what would be the winning run.

The bullpen absolved itself of its abominable performance in the middle game of the series with four innings of perfection. Jonathan Papelbon notched his 133rd career save and established a new club record. The pitcher who may eventually supplant him, Daniel Bard, had the defining outing of his career thus far: with the score knotted at 5-5 the fireballer kept the Orioles off the bases for two innings.

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