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Home » July 2009 Game CommentsJuly 2009 » Aplomb


Game 96: July 25, 2009
L: Jeremy Guthrie (7-9)
41-55, 5 game losing streak
WinRed Sox7
W: Jon Lester (9-7)
H: Daniel Bard (3)
57-39, 2 game winning streak
Highlights: Don Orsillo honored Jim Rice with a snazzy navy pinstripe suit and polka dot tie. Gordon Edes tried to channel Vin Scully, but he doesn’t have Scully’s ability to weave his stories into the ebb and flow of the game. He told a few Rickey Henderson stories I hadn’t heard; all Edes’s anecdotes and more can be found here. The story I want to hear is what Melvin Mora heard after his dramatic catch of Jason Varitek’s fourth inning pop-up in foul ground. As the returned to his position he smirked. Not only does he have to get it from Boston fans in Camden Yards but the remarks escalate in Fenway.

The Red Sox broke out of their offensive funk, scoring more than five runs in a game for the first time since July 12, the last game before the All-Star break. In the first inning David Ortiz powered his 13th four-bagger of the season to the camera well in center with Dustin Pedroia and Jason Bay on base in the first inning for the early lead.

Earl Weaver would have approved of the first inning, but would have roundly condemned Jacoby Ellsbury for getting picked off of second base in the fourth inning. Again the Red Sox center fielder knocked the ball where he could have had an inside-the-parker. His fly ball double caromed off the base of the right field wall straight back to Nick Markakis.

Adam LaRoche made his Red Sox debut leading off the bottom half of the second inning. He took over the number 23 from Julio Lugo and his first three turns at bat reminded me of the tepid shortstop. Fans weren’t effusive in their welcome, perhaps thinking Lugo didn’t actually leave. In the eighth all doubt was dispelled with LaRoche’s two-run dinger into the Monster seats.

Mike Lowell, who led off the inning with a single, joins Kevin Youkilis as the two players who will have to adjust with LaRoche’s arrival. As Youkilis’s tendency is to fade in the second half, LaRoche’s to surge, and Lowell’s health is a question mark, the trio of corner infielders should form a symbiotic relationship that will carry the team to the postseason.

Perhaps foreseeing the potential for friction, LaRoche's locker is ensconced between Bay’s and J.D. Drew’s lockers so that the two former teammates can make him feel welcome in his third major league clubhouse. LaRoche didn’t get the silent treatment but enthusiastic congratulations after his homer. Ortiz was the first player at the dugout to give him a high five and a slap on the back and the rest of the club followed suit.

Already the LaRoche Experiment has demonstrated better results than 2007’s Gagne Gambit and may have a bigger impact than 2008’s Casey Corollary.

Jon Lester almost had his fifth double-digit strikeout game but notched nine punchouts despite Paul Nauert’s less than generous calls and the proliferation of beach balls in center field. Daniel Bard continued his apprenticeship in big league relief pitching by taking over in a high leverage situation: one out, a runner in scoring position, and the score 5-2. He induced a pop-out to third by the pesky Ty Wigginton and caused Mora to ground out weakly to second.

In the ninth, Ramon Ramirez surrendered singles to two hitters on the upswing, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis. Had LaRoche not provided some cushion in the eighth Francona might have had to call on Jonathan Papelbon for the second night in the a row. With runners on second and third Adam Jones slashed at the 0-2 slider and flied out harmlessly to right.

The second game of the series was a solid outing on both sides of the ball. They played with a confidence that represented the true essence of the team, ridding themselves of the disappointment of their recent five-game skid.

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