Thursday, April 08, 2004

Game 3 - Red Sox
The Kindness of Strangers

Red Sox 10, Orioles 3
Record: 2-1

The good news for Oriole fans is that Melvin Mora didn't kick any more groundballs last night. The bad news is that he still isn't a very instinctive thirdbaseman, and that fact opened the floodgates for the Red Sox in the 2nd inning of last night's game. The game was scoreless with two out and runners on 1st and 2nd when Pokey Reese chopped a harmless-looking grounder to deep short. Miguel Tejada played the ball cleanly and looked to flip it to Mora for the force at third. Mora was late covering the bag (probably assuming that Tejada would make the easy throw to first), and Tejada's hurried, double-clutched throw to first was too late to get the speedy Reese. Johnny Damon followed Reese by singling to left to plate two runs, and Bill Mueller ripped a single to center to score two more, and the train was rolling. The good guys tallied 7 in the inning and coasted the rest of the way.

To be sure, many of the O's were in a giving mood last night, even after Mora's thoughtful present. The Sox probably should have been held to 1 run, as Larry Bigbie had Mark Bellhorn dead to rights at home on Damon's single. Bigbie's throw short-hopped catcher Javy Lopez, allowing Bellhorn to sneak in safely, and causing third base coach Dale Sveum to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Then, with the score 4-0 and two more men on base, O's centerfielder Luis Matos lost Manny Ramirez' towering, but easily catchable fly in the lights, giving Manny a double and allowing two more runs to score.

Derek Lowe cruised for the Sox, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings. That makes 5 earned runs in 18 innings for Red Sox starting pitching - a tidy 2.50 ERA. Johnny Damon awoke from his cave-slumber to go 5 for 5, and Kevin Millar recovered from his collision with Damon to rope three hits. If game 1 was one of the 35 chalk-'em-up losses, this game was one of the 35 auto-wins.

This Oriole team is going to be fun to watch this season, especially on offense. They don't really have an easy out in their starting lineup, with Mora, Tejada, Lopez, and Rafael Palmeiro all quality sticks, and Jay Gibbons, Matos and Bigbie getting better and better with experience. Their starting pitching is really young, with only 10 career wins in the 2-5 slots after Sidney Ponson in the rotation, which will make for some trying moments for skipper Lee Mazzilli. Quick prediction after watching Mazzilli's early-season body language: he's gonna unleash some serious nutties as the season wears on, either at his youthful team or at the umpires. He seems to be wound really, really tight, which doesn't bode well for a guy with a fragile ballclub.

Still don't know a ton about the Sox, except that they seem to have picked up where they left off from last year in terms of looseness and unity. As an example, despite the best efforts of baseball's worst media corps, none of the Sox players seem to give a damn about Pedro's leaving the ballpark after being lifted from Sunday's start. Leading scumbag Dan Shaughnessy penned a poisonous screed about the diva pitcher's antics, failing to recall - or perhaps not caring - that he praised Roger Clemens' competitiveness and combativeness 6 years ago when the former Sox hurler did exactly the same thing as Pedro. Let's all sing along now, "The Pedro's black, the Rocket is white, together we learn that Danny's uptight". And by uptight, I mean borderline racist. This is the same guy who called David Ortiz a "sack of crap" in print last season, and has targeted Mo Vaughn, Carl Everett, and Pedro for his vitriol in seasons past. To paraphase liberally from Seinfeld's Babu, "He's a very bad man".

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