Thursday, September 02, 2004

Game 131 - Red Sox

Red Sox 12, Angels 7
Record: 78-53

Bill Simmons wrote a column this week on his page about the current state of the Sox/Yankees race. It was reasonably well-articulated, cogent, and made some very good points about the perceptions harbored by each team's fan base. And on behalf of all Red Sox fans, I'd like to take this moment to tell Mr. Simmons to shut the fuck up. Right as he may be about the Yankees' weaknesses, the Sox' strengths, and each team's chances over the next 6 weeks, the Red Sox Nation Handbook clearly - clearly - stipulates that we underestimate the Yankees at our own peril.

With that necessary public service announcement out of the way, I'll turn my focus to the current action on the field. I'm getting a mental picture of Jeremy Piven as Droz in the seminal classic, PCU, as I think about the Sox over the past month. As Piven's character digs through old term papers to pacify a horde of agitated students, he comes across a Physics tome to satisfy the needs of a girl who lost her own work in a power outage. "It's a scorcher," Piven intones, mocking and supportive at the same time, in the way comes naturally to 6th-year seniors the world over.

That example is really apropos of nothing - I'm just pleased to be able to get both PCU and Piven into a blog entry - but the quote "It's a scorcher" succinctly describes just about everything going on with the Sox at the moment. One year to the day after Trot Nixon's extra-inning grand slam fueled the Stay on Target season-ending run of the 2003 Red Sox, this year's version inexorably ground down their closest playoff competitors. Symmetry, thy name is the Olde Towne Team.

Two months ago, the Sox would have been drummed by the Angels in this game. Anaheim staked the Sox to a 4-0 first-inning lead, but Bronson Arroyo couldn't stand prosperity, and only lasted 2 2/3 innings before giving the entire lead back. With the score 5-5 entering the 4th inning, the Nation held its breath, fingers placed over eyes all over New England. The Sox didn't even blink. They plated 2 runs each in the 4th and 5th innings, and never looked back.

The Sox won this game with pitching (Mike Myers and Terry Adams handcuffed the Angels from the 3rd through 6th innings, and Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, and Curtis Leskanic pitched just well enough to hold the fort in the final 3 frames.), defense (Jason Varitek single-handedly snuffed out the Angels in the 5th inning, first throwing out Adam Kennedy trying to advance to 3rd on a pitch in the dirt with no outs, and then pegging a seed to nail Chone Figgins stealing second to end the inning. And Orlando Cabrera made two stellar plays from short to cut down Angel rallies.), and Lord-have-mercy-hide-the-women-and-children offense (12 runs on 16 hits with only 1 homerun). In short, every facet of the team contributed to this win, and every facet of this team seems to be in perfect synch.

6 weeks and 31 games is a long time, and any number of things - good and bad - can and will happen in that time frame. I'll leave it at this: if this Sox team plays up to its potential, there is no team in either the American or National leagues that I fear. That's an "if" the size of Michael Moore's ego, admittedly, but that doesn't make the underlying premise wrong.

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