|Game 102: July 31, 2009|
|Red Sox||6||W: John Smoltz (2-4)|
H: Ramon Ramirez (10)
H: Hideki Okajima (20)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (27)
|60-42, 2 game winning streak|
|Orioles||5||L: Jeremy Guthrie (7-10)||44-58, 1 game losing streak|
| Highlights: Smoltz muddled through six innings on the mound with a line of 8 hits, 5 earned runs, no walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 homers. The grizzled pitcher carried that look that lingers on the visages of aging athletes, a look of befuddlement when the mind is willing but the body is no longer able.|
David Ortiz made his first road appearance since the allegations of the positive test from 2003 were revealed. Despite being 404 miles away from Fenway, for the most part cheers for him drowned out the jeers, which I don’t think happens to Alex Rodriguez in his travels. Ortiz’s two-run home run in the third sailed over the right field fences into a sea of Red Sox shirts.
The Orioles quickly replied in the bottom of the same canto. Nick Green aided the opposition with an errant throw of Brian Roberts’s batted ball that allowed Matt Wieters to put his team on the board; the Red Sox middle infielder has a gun but needs some work at the firing range. Nolan Reimold tied the game on a home run that Terry Francona disputed but was overruled by video replay.
When outfielders Reimold and Jacoby Ellsbury weren’t jacking balls over the wall they were robbing their quarry of four-baggers. Mike Lowell’s fly ball to left was intercepted by Reimold just before it slipped into the stands, ending the third inning. Ellsbury’s snare to snuff out the sixth was more impressive: the center fielder had to cover more ground and jumped as high as the right field wall to seize Luke Scott’s clout.
Not to be outdone by outfielders, Hideki Okajima adroitly snatched Wieters’s comebacker to kill the Orioles’ fledgling rally in the eighth. To be sure, many pitchers field their position well, but consider Okajima’s no-look delivery.
As rousing as Friday night’s game was, much of the action came off the field. In the waning hours of the trade deadline, Theo Epstein traded for the blue-chip backstop from Cleveland, Victor Martinez, and did so without having to sacrifice Michael Bowden or Clay Buchholz. Justin Masterson was sent to the Indians, along with minor leaguers Nick Hagadone (a first round talent from the 2007 draft) and Bryan Price (first round pick in 2008).
Just after the Martinez trade was announced another deal came to light. Adam LaRoche was traded to the Braves for Casey Kotchman, a transaction that is analogous to trading in your 2006 Toyota Camry for a 2008 Honda Accord.
The Red Sox’s trading deadline objective was to do business with the two MLB teams with insulting mascots.
Masterson was a peach of a guy, but in the end he’ll be missed about as much as Freddy Sanchez was. The lanky right-hander was versatile but not stellar, and there are more talented arms waiting in the wings. Don Orsillo will certainly miss Meryl Masterson’s cookies, although his waistline won’t.