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Home » August 2009 Game CommentsAugust 2009 » Victorious


Game 115: August 14, 2009
WinRed Sox8
W: Takashi Saito (3-3)
66-49, 1 game winning streak
BS: Eddie Guardado (2)
H: Darren O’Day (15)
H: C.J. Wilson (9)
BS, L: Frank Francisco (3, 2-2)
64-50, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: In 2004 there was July 24, the Rodriguez/Varitek face-off and Bill Mueller walk-off. In 2007 there was September 28, the Red Sox win against the Twins and the Yankees extra-innings loss for the American League East Championship.

Jon Lester wasn’t his best, which for him means he was still exceptional. He surrendered two early runs: Michael Young homered with Omar Vizquel on base with a leadoff walk in the first. Lester battled back to strike out the side. The lefty allowed two bases on balls in the fourth and against punched out the rest of the batters he faced in the inning.

While Lester held the Ranger bats at bay David Ortiz menaced Kevin Millwood from the seven-hole, walking twice against the starter. Even though the visitors didn’t notch a run against Millwood, Ron Washington pulled him in the sixth with two out, Mike Lowell on first, and 110 pitches on his arm.

Like Mike Myers, Eddie Guardado is a southpaw that doesn’t intimidate Ortiz. Guardado threw three straight balls to Ortiz, clearly wanting no part of the designated hitter. Two strikes, one called and one foul, followed. With the count full Ortiz honed his sight to that slice of plate that Guardado had to serve the ball and teed off, sending a blast to right that tied the game.

But Lester wasn’t his best and Terry Francona didn’t have his best center fielder in the game. Marlon Byrd led off the bottom of the sixth with a double over Josh Reddick’s glove, a fly ball that Jacoby Ellsbury likely would have snared. Andruw Jones blooped a single to no-man’s land, too deep for Dustin Pedroia, too shallow for Reddick, and just long enough in the air to plate Byrd.

A leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh by Taylor Teagarden turned into an insurance run for the Rangers with Young’s alchemic bat. It was the kind of magic that seemed to evade the Boston baseball club. At least until last night.

Ortiz doubled off Frank Francisco to begin the magic show. Angel Hernandez transmogrified Jason Varitek’s 6-3 ground out into an infield single. Frank Viola was more of a homer than Ken Harrelson, sheepisly saying “I think it he was safe” on a replay that clearly showed Varitek was out. Ellsbury, who pinch hit for Nick Green in the seventh, singled up the middle to edge the score to 4-3.

The Red Sox magic show even had a comedic interlude. The corollary to removing Green was having to watch Chris Woodward’s piteous sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in a three-pitch strikeout. Then Clay Buchholz pinch ran for Varitek with Pedroia in the box.

The second baseman starched a double off the luminescent scoreboard in left. Pedroia’s laser show dazzled Buchholz to the point of distraction. The pitcher was as natural on the basepath’s as Cher’s face; he delayed his dash home because of the misread, stumbling after clearing third, and adjusted his awkwardly-fitting helmet for the final stretch.

The ball caromed off the radiant board right into David Murphy’s throwing hand. Murphy missed the cutoff man but Young was there to relay the ball to home in time to hose Buchholz. One more bobble on the Rangers’ part or a half a second quicker reaction by the pitcher was the difference between Jeff Suppan and Luis Tiant.

Down to their last out, to their last strike, Victor Martinez, Houdini-like, released his team from the bonds of defeat. He placidly took Francisco’s pitches to observe the hurler’s inventory and then protected the plate once the strike count ticked two.

If you truly wish to demoralize an opponent, in some ways a line drive double to clear the bases and secure the lead like Martinez’s is even better than a home run. The pitcher might entertain the brief hope that his fielder can get to the ball, only to have that optimism crushed when the ball ricochets off the fences. The manager might decide to leave you in, as Washington did to Francisco, so you’d have to pitch from the stretch with a tangible reminder of your failure dancing behind you. The outfielder still has to run hard after the ball, corralling it despite the inevitability of runners crossing the plate. Finally, the infielders can only watch their scurrying outfielder, attempting to compute the trajectory of panicked toss and position themselves accordingly.

Victor Martinez had his moment in the Yankee series but it didn’t lead to the win. This moment did. Never had those chintzy blue uniforms looked so good.

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