Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Games 72 through 74 - Red Sox
Changes in Altitude, Changes in Attitude

Red Sox 12, Philadelphia Phillies 1
Phillies 9, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 12, Phillies 3
Record: 42-32

It's amazing what three days in Golden, CO and the surrounding environs - with absolutely no access to Red Sox baseball - will do for a man's perspective. Nearly all my Red Sox angst has flowed away, and seemingly drifted to Whitney judging by the essay immediately below this one. In its place on the eve of Armageddon, Part III - This Time It Means Something to Steinbrenner, is a strange, laid-back calm.

Granted, that calm will only last until Derek Lowe's first pained expression after walking three straight batters in tonight's game against the Yankees, but I'm better than I was before I went to the Rockies. While I was gone, Martinez and Schilling won and Arroyo lost, the offense had two monster outings and one mediocre one, David Ortiz continued to mash the cover off of the ball, and, well, who knows what else. Ignorance (and a .667 winning percentage, albeit in a small sample) is bliss.

Let's ponder the month that David Ortiz has had, shall we. He entered June batting .274 with a .323 OBP and a .500 SLG average. Since the last day of May, he's put up .365/.382/.698, good for a 1.080 OPS, with 8 homers and 28 batted in. He's struck out roughly once every 6 ABs in June, after posting 1-in-4 numbers during the season's first two months. Those, frankly, are Player of the Month stat lines. Short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, meet Mr. Ortiz.

Speaking of Yankee Stadium, the Sox head into the maw of the beast for a three-game set beginning tonight. Big Stein has declared payback an imperative, as the Sox currently own a 6-1 season mark against the Yankees. From my now-mellow perspective, the Sox have to take 1 of the 3 games - they can't fall to 8.5 back, even in June, because the psychological implications are unpleasant to contemplate. Anything better than 1 of 3 would be sublime, and might make Steinbrenner's head explode. The pitching matchups aren't spectacular for the Sox - Lowe/Vazquez, Wakefield/Lieber, Martinez/TBD (actually, Pedro should dominate TBD) - but neither are they lopsided in favor of the Yankees, depending upon which Tim Wakefield shows up.

I've been searching for a new mantra for this season, and maybe my altitude-inspired (seriously, the Rockies are just freaking spectacular) laissez-faire is the perfect guide. We'll see how the Yankee series goes, but the MLC staff is leaning towards a climbing-the-mountain sort of theme for this Sox club. Just so you know.

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