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Home » July 2010 Game CommentsAugust 2010 » A Coke and a Smile

A Coke and a Smile

The Red Sox got the leadoff hitter on base seven out of nine innings but grounded into three double plays. The home team also ran into a couple of outs, one ill-advised and another unlucky. In the seventh inning with Adrian Beltre on first, none out, and the score 4-0 in favor of the Tigers, Bill Hall tried to stretch a single to left into a double and was hosed at second. In the bottom frame of the next inning Victor Martinez knocked a long single off the left field wall. Beltre followed him with a bloop to shallow right that looked catchable enough that Martinez couldn’t commit to taking second. The ball dropped just out of reach of Brennan Boesch’s glove and the catcher was erased from the basepaths.

Despite Hall’s gaffe his team halved the deficit in the seventh thanks to Ryan Kalish’s first major league run batted in. In the same play he knocked over his first major league umpire when his shattered bat hit Dan Iassogna. He scored his first major league run on Darnell McDonald’s double in the seventh. In his premier major league at bat in the third Kalish led off with a single between first and second, but the rookie’s debut, as sparkling as it was, wouldn’t be the story of the game.

As he did in the ninth inning in the first game of the series, David Ortiz took the box with the bases loaded and his team trailing 4-2 in the seventh. Tigers reliever Ryan Perry deftly threw Ortiz’s timing off with a stream of fastballs punctuated by a change-up that had the designated hitter flailing.

Phil Coke wasn’t as skillful has his bullpen brethren in the ninth, but the reliever had to cope with Jim Leyland’s decision to walk Youkilis, who represented the winning run, to load the bases with Ortiz at the dish. Coke couldn’t get his slider over for a strike so attempted to sneak fastballs past Papi. Ortiz got a hold of a pitch and lined to out of the reach of Don Kelly and Austin Jackson.

The two Tigers outfielders hesitated in their pursuit of Ortiz’s ball, a split-second pause that allowed all three baserunners to score. Ortiz celebrated at the keystone sack and was mobbed by his teammates. Amongst the first to reach him was Hideki Okajima, whose perfect ninth might be a harbinger that his pitching woes are over.

As Theo Epstein was unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices that other general managers were asking for relievers, any positive indicators that the bullpen is back on track would be welcome. Ramon Ramirez was traded away to the Giants; the righty can only benefit from the change of scenery, the pitchers’ park AT&T, and the weaker hitters that populate the senior circuit.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who possesses the longest surname in major league history, was acquired from Texas for Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez, a player to be named later, and cash considerations. While the trade doesn’t change the balance of power in the AL East, it does provide an insurance policy if the Red Sox and Martinez and Jason Varitek part ways. The Yankees may have acquired a bigger impact player with Lance Berkman, but the Red Sox now have the incumbent longest surname and his potential successor in Seth Schwindenhammer.

Game 104: July 31, 2010
4H: Ryan Perry (11)
BS, L: Phil Coke (2, 6-2)
2B: Jeff Frazier (1), Ramon Santiago (8), Austin Jackson (26)
HR: Miguel Cabrera (26)
WinRed Sox
5W: Hideki Okajima (4-3)
2B: Kevin Youkilis (26), Darnell McDonald (13), Jed Lowrie (4), David Ortiz (22)

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