Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Game 45 - Red Sox
38 & '24'

Red Sox 12, Oakland A's 2
Record: 28-17

Thoughts while soaring over a sea of dorsal fins, firmly abreast my cyber-Harley:

I'm very appreciative of the Sox scoring early and often during last night's nationally televised contest against the A's. My guys' thorough domination of Oakland's stud, Tim Hudson, allowed me to focus on the season finale of '24' from 9:00 to 10:00 without remorse, especially since Curt Schilling was dealing and the Sox had a 9-0 lead.

Yesterday was my first real opportunity to watch Schilling work, and even though he wasn't otherworldly - 7 IP, 2 ER, 9H, 6K, 113 pitches - he was in complete control. He pitched around a lead-off double to Erubiel Durazo in the 5th when the lead was only 5 runs, then struck out Eric Chavez with his final pitch of the night with the bases loaded and the score 9-2. Unlike a certain basketcase who shall remain nameless, Schilling seems to get better under pressure, almost daring the opponent to string together a series of hits.

ESPN's camerawork provided another interesting insight Schilling and how he fits into the Sox bench dynamic. At various times during the game the cameras caught Schilling in earnest, animated discussions - generally one-sided - with Terry Francona, pitching coach Dave Wallace, Derek Lowe, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz. Schilling and Ortiz talked for nearly 30 minutes at one stretch. Schilling's intensity and preparation seems to have rubbed off on Manny and Ortiz, who combined for 6 hits, including 2 doubles and a homer. It was cool to watch Schill making entries in his notebook, and to see how seriously he takes winning. "Listen to me", he seems to be saying with his words and actions, "I know what the hell it takes to get the job done."

Flipping between '24' and the Sox, it occurred to me that Schilling is Boston's Jack Bauer, the super-intense, super-motivated, and super-effective win-at-all-costs alpha dog. The comparison doesn't suffer from the fact that Schilling and Kiefer Sutherland share more than a passing resemblance. The free world is safe from biotoxins this morning, and maybe the Red Sox have a guy that can drag them to the promised land, hopefully without cutting off Pedro's arm at the wrist. (Whitney is just squirming with Great White imagery as he reads this.)

Lots of offensive stars in this one, as the Sox battered Hudson for 5 earned runs in 4 innings with a combination of extreme patience and efficient hitting when they got their pitches (save for Kevin "LOB" Millar). Mark Bellhorn continued to contribute, falling a triple short of the cycle and driving in 5 runs. Ortiz doubled twice and drove in 3, Manny hit a mammoth blast into the monster seats, Varitek went 3-for-3, and Kevin Youkilis reached base 4 times.

Yesterday also brought news that Billy Mueller went under the knife for a procedure to repair some degenerative damage to his knee. The defending AL batting champion will be out 4-6 weeks, so young Youks(!) will get all the playing time he wants. Good to know that he seems up to the task.

And finally, it was awesome to see Fenway react to Andy Dominique's major league debut. Dominique was called up to take Mueller's roster spot, and pinch-hit in the bottom of the 8th. With the game well in hand, the Sox faithful rose as one, chanting "Andy, Andy, Andy", as Dominique faced former Sox farmhand Justin Duscherererererer. That's gotta be an all-time goosebump moment for Dominique, even though he swung through strike three. He's another in the Morgan Burkhart body by cheesesteak slow white guy mold, which means he'll probably tear it up for three weeks, earn the eternal admiration of Sox fans everywhere, and then fade into oblivion. There are worse fates.

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