Monday, April 12, 2004

Games 6 and 7 - Red Sox
Petey and Schill, Chicken Soup for the Sox Fan's Soul

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1
Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4 (12)
Record: 4-3

Sometime in the middle of the 2nd inning of Saturday night's game, as I watched Josh Phelps smoke a hanging changeup to right-center off of Pedro Martinez, I began toying with the idea that, maybe, just maybe, Pedro was human, and that I should revise my expectations for him downward. Y'know, mediocre start on opening day against the O's following an even worse spring, combined with the inevitable ravages of age and time on an already fragile and wispy physique. Hell, I'd almost convinced myself that it was time to eulogize this once-fierce warrior. The lesson, as always, is that I'm an idiot.

Though he wasn't the electric Pedro of 1999-2000, Martinez still outdueled reigning Cy Young Roy Halladay, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up 4 hits and 1 run while fanning 7 and walking 2. He struck out Frank Catalanotto on a curveball so pure that the Jays' leftfielder just stared forlornly straight ahead, never looking at either the umpire or Pedro as he trudged back to the bench, bewildered. One game does not a season make, but one game definitely reminds this fan that Pedro Martinez is the best pitcher I've ever seen - and he wasn't even really that dominant, at least by Pedro standards. I suppose it's easy to get spoiled in the presence of true greatness.

Then, on Sunday, Curt Schilling took the hill in his home debut and dominated the Jays. Okay, half of that sentence is accurate. But even though the league's best No. 2 starter wasn't razor-sharp, he still battled for 8 innings, 10 strikeouts and 116 pitches, and got off the hook when Mark Bellhorn singled in the game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th. David Ortiz, coming up fast on the outside in the race to be my favorite Sox player, smashed a two-run tater in the bottom of the 12th to send the home fans happy.

"This will get us going," said first baseman Kevin Millar. "This team gets scary if we start doing stuff like this. This is the kind of win that we had last year. That shows the character of this team. This team is going to do a lot of winning." I love Kevin Millar, even when I hate his batting stroke.

(Random stat geek aside: Bellhorn appears to be another winning move by Theo Epstein, Boy Genius. Though he's only batting .174, he's walked 10 times in 33 plate appearances to generate a .424 on-base percentage. He's gonna hit, and if he keeps getting on base at this rate, he'll be this year's Bill Mueller - out of nowhere professional hitter. Just so I've warned you, this is the same guy who hit 27 homers for the Cubs just two years ago.)

Ten minutes after Ortiz' bomb, Phil Mickelson curled in a 20-foot putt to conclude the most remarkable Masters I've ever seen. Philly Mick, big-talented, hard-luck loser ends his majorless streak on the same day the big-talented, hard-luck Boston Red Sox pick up where they left off at the end of 2003, winning a game they shouldn't have? Omen? Hmmm? I'm just saying.

No comments: