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Home » May 2011 Game CommentsMay 2011 » Ace Off

Ace Off

Nothing like facing a trio of aces to get your hitters into midseason form. Dennis Eckersley brought up the assassin’s string of Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, and Dan Haren to Terry Francona in their in-game interview. “Thanks, Eck,” the skipper grimly replied. It was the top of the fifth inning and the only hit Haren had given up to that point was a ground ball single to right off the bat of Carl Crawford.

Eckersley and Don Orsillo joked about the Hall of Famer keeping a book on the batters he faced. The very notion made Eckersley guffaw. “Straight to the dugout and, I gassed him,” mimicking as if he were keeping a journal. They laugh now but Curt Schilling’s books might make it into Cooperstown if he does. Manny Ramirez, who mocked Schilling when the pitcher was poring over his book, probably won’t.

Haren and Jon Lester both benefited from John Hirschbeck’s expansive strike zone. “I love that umpire,” sighed Eckersley dreamily.

Not that Haren needs a favorable zone. Despite looking like he gets his food from a soup kitchen the pitcher has superb command. By the sixth inning, however, Haren’s pitches were catching too much of the plate and the Red Sox batters jumped on his offerings. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the first base line and Torii Hunter bobbled the ball. In an unusual shot from the third base side the television audience could see Ellsbury debating whether to break for third while Hunter gathered the horsehide for his throw to the cutoff man.

Adrian Gonzalez took Haren to the opposite field to plate his team’s first score. David Ortiz extended the inning with a hit similar to Ellsbury’s but with Gonzalez clogging up the bases Ortiz couldn’t unleash his speed and stayed at first. Gonzalez crossed home with Jed Lowrie’s grounder that slipped between Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo.

Perhaps Mike Scioscia was justified in bringing out Haren again in the seventh. Boston hitters weren’t necessarily smoking the ball; they were just getting enough wood on it and finding the holes. But then Crawford scorched a single to center and Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked the ball high off the left field wall just before it angles into the center field fence for an RBI double.

Scioscia inexplicably stayed with Haren in the eighth. The hard hit balls in the seventh presaged Adrian Gonzalez’s home run, his first at Fenway. Gonzalez’s circuit clout landed in the visitors’ bullpen. The Angels field manager was a batter too late with his pitching change and then went with the wrong reliever. Hisanori Takahashi relinquished homers to Ortiz and Marco Scutaro.

Like President Obama’s birthplace or Osama bin Laden’s current state of existence there was doubt about Scoots’s four-bagger. Proof supporting the veracity of these three things have either been provided or can be.

Tonight’s tie calls to mind glass bricks that were an essential part of the design aesthetic of the eighties. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down.

Game 29: May 3, 2011
Los Angeles Angels
L: Daren Haren (4-2)
2B: Maicer Izturis (10), Erick Aybar (5)
HR: Mark Trumbo (5)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (4-1)
H: Daniel Bard (5)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (9), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (4)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez (2), David Ortiz (4), Marco Scutaro (1)

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