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Home » August 2009 Game CommentsAugust 2009 » Stave


Game 118: August 18, 2009
WinRed Sox10
W: Hideki Okajima (4-0)
H: Daniel Bard (6)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (29)
67-51, 1 game winning streak
Blue Jays
L: Casey Janssen (2-4)
55-62, 3 game losing streak
Highlights: It was a win as unbecoming as Frank Viola’s brown herringbone jacket. Like that piece of clothing, it merely served its purpose. A lucky win, the required business casual outfit, both essential items in the toolkit of success.

During the game last night I went to the kitchen to grab a Skinny Cow frozen treat in a vain attempt to stave off the heat. From the other room a heard a muted, “Ack ack ack.” I thought it might be kids outside playing soldier but it was Frank Viola’s gleeful cackle.

Viola enjoys games that the Red Sox score a lot of runs in, and in this contest Boston needed every last run. The visitors jumped out to an early lead in the second with four runs. Kevin Youkilis almost homered but settled for a double, Jason Bay walked, and Mike Lowell loaded the bases with a looping single to right.

David Ortiz poked the ball to the opposite field to plate two runs. Alex Gonzalez chipped in with an RBI ground out and Ortiz artfully slid his hand across home plate to score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s ground ball single. Clay Buchholz, take notes from Ortiz, should you ever be pushed into pinch-running service again.

Randy Ruiz’s body reminds me of the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval, who goes by the moniker Kung Fu Panda. The 31-year old rookie homered in the bottom of the second, the first of many runs for the Blue Jays, a surprising outcome with ace Josh Beckett on the mound.

Was it because of Jason Varitek’s late scratch from the lineup? Victor Martinez’s unfamiliarity with Beckett’s repertoire and preferences? Perhaps he was distracted by a Dustin Pedroia Man Baby picture depicting his newborn son Dylan?

Rod Barajas tied the game with a two-run longball in the sixth off Beckett’s 100th pitch. Boston batters bailed Beckett out of his 5⅓ inning clunker in which he surrendered 9 hits, 7 earned runs, and 3 dingers. On the bright side, he only gave up one free pass.

Jonathan Papelbon looked out of sorts as well. He had no location, muddling through 1⅓ innings while allowing 2 hits and 3 walks. The closer allowed both the runners he inherited to score in the eighth so that the comfortable three-run lead turned into a single run in the ninth.

With Roy Halladay on the bump in the middle game of the series, an opening win, no matter how ugly, was crucial. This was the sort of game the Red Sox were finding ways to lose of late, but now the team seems to have returned to equilibrium, the offense shoring up the pitching staff when it fell into a funk.

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