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Home » September 2010 Game CommentsSeptember 2010 » Why Are They On First?

Why Are They On First?

When watching Mike Lowell and Ty Wigginton play first base the immortal Abbott and Costello question is transmuted to “why?” In a position where one doesn’t need to be particularly agile this pair stands out as distinctly inelegant. Wigginton has the footwork of a punch-drunk heavyweight in the 12th round and the glove of nuclear power plant worker. Lowell is much better at receiving relays from the other infielders but has the range of barnacle. “Lowell flips to the pitcher covering first” is becoming as overused as “past a diving Jeter.”

For all of Wigginton’s missed catches none were as bad as NESN failing to get back to the game in time for Adrian Beltre’s leadoff home run to kick off the second inning. Red Sox ratings are down 36 per cent from last season and slipshod game production won’t help keep audience loyalty. Neither will the constant stream of in-game advertisements. The only reason I can abide by New York Life’s blurbs is that they signify that a good guy got into scoring position.

Beltre sparked an offensive barrage. His team batted around in the second, banging in five runs to give Daisuke Matsuzaka a sizable lead to work with.

Matsuzaka carried a no-hitter into the fourth. With one down Nick Markakis scorched a double down the third base line, but the extra base hit didn’t mar the starter’s confidence. Matsuzaka shut down the Orioles until the sixth inning, in which he startlingly transformed into Josh Beckett.

The Orioles knocked in three hits before Matsuzaka tallied an out. The pitcher helped his own cause, as the cliche goes, knocking down Wigginton’s liner and flipping to Lowell. But even on that out Baltimore plated a run to render the score 5-2. Matt Wieters capped off the rally with a double that missed clearing the fences by a few inches, notching two more runs.

I dislike the movie, but Scott Atchison is the Forrest Gump of pitchers – you never know what you’re going to get. Atchison relieved Matsuzaka with two out and a man on second and struck out Nolan Reimold to end the threat. Hideki Okajima even managed to get the one batter he faced out, inducing a pop out to Beltre in foul territory to end the eighth. Does the team actually have middle relievers not named Daniel Bard that can be relied upon?

Jonathan Papelbon allowed the first two batters he faced to single and had to pitch with two men in scoring position after Corey Patterson’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners. Buck Showalter may have the expertise of years in the game and the respect of his players, but he just doesn’t have many offensive bullets to fire. To end the series Cesar Izturis and Josh Bell struck out swinging at fastballs away.

Game 134: September 2, 2010
WinRed Sox
6W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-4)
H: Scott Atchison (5), Hideki Okajima (10)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (35)
2B: Ryan Kalish (5)
HR: Adrian Beltre (25)
4L: Brad Bergesen (6-10)
2B: Nick Markakis (41), Matt Wieters – 2 (18), Brian Roberts (11)

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