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Home » September 2009 Game CommentsSeptember 2009 » Opposite


Game 141: September 13, 2009
L: Matt Garza (7-10)
72-70, 10 game losing streak
WinRed Sox3
W: Hideki Okajima (6-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (36)
83-58, 4 game winning streak
Highlights: Joe Maddon’s relief pitching strategy radically shifted from when these two teams last met. Instead of switching out arms faster than partners swapping in a square dance Maddon stuck with Garza in the eighth even as pinch hitter David Ortiz doubled to the base of the bullpen wall.

With Joey Gathright, the pinch runner for Papi, cavorting in the corner of his eye, Matt Garza couldn’t quite collect himself to execute the perfect pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury. The center fielder bunted the ball towards third, forcing Evan Longoria to come off the bag and allowing fellow speedster Gathright to come within 90 feet of breaking the 1-1 tie.

Dustin Pedroia hit a Papi-style homer to the visitors’ bullpen. The infielder seemed particularly pleased with his opposite-field shot that had no business clearing the fences. Rays right fielder Gabe Gross trotted to the wall and peered into the bullpen to confirm the startling feat.

Garza backed off the hill to cover third so he could watch the ball’s trajectory. He blew a bubble as he made his nonchalant way but abruptly spit it out when he saw where the ball landed.

Just a few weeks ago Joe Maddon would have retrieved Garza if his pitcher at the slightest evidence of unease. After falling victim to Pedroia, Garza had to face off against Victor Martinez, the only other Red Sox player that scored against him. Martinez clanked a double off the wall and the Rays’ manager finally went to his pen.

Clay Buchholz went toe-to-toe with the emerging Rays ace, carrying a no-hitter into the fourth. With two down Ben Zobrist starched a single to right, thus ending Buchholz’s bid. While Garza beat Buchholz in strikeouts, 8-5, the latter surrendered a mere five singles.

The Red Sox starter was also helped by his infield, in a fashion. With runners on second and third with two out Jason Bartlett scorched the ball of the middle. Pedroia fielded it but in his haste pulled Casey Kotchman off the bag. Kotchman dropped the ball anyway, but didn’t dwaddle or dwell on his mistake. Right after gathering the ball he fired to Martinez, who was blocking the plate. Gross claimed he got his leg in before the tag but the replay showed Martinez’s tag on Gross’s knee.

The late inning twosome of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon are back in sync. Pat Burrell was Papelbon’s first out, a called strike that painted the inside of the plate. Burrell was a mite peeved at the call; how vexing such things are when one’s team is in free fall.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are rocketing in the other direction.

Do you remember?
Dancing in September
Never was a cloudy day

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