Sunday, May 08, 2005

Y? Not

Games 29 through 31 - Red Sox

Red Sox 7, Seattle Mariners 2
Red Sox 6, Mariners 3
Mariners 6, Red Sox 4
Record: 18-13

Despite dropping the nightcap of today's doubleheader to the M's to snap a 5-game winning streak, this was a pretty impressive and positive weekend for the Sox on a number of fronts. Also, I learned how to wipe myself with my off hand, so all in all we'll call this weekend a net win.

The most prominent plus for the Sox was today's season debut for Wade Miller. The former Astro stud was stolen by Theo Epstein in the off-season, the Sox gambling that Miller would recover from shoulder troubles well enough to regain his former dominant form. If today's 5-inning effort was any indication, the Sox just got even better. Despite blustery, wet conditions (seriously, 49 degrees, 19mph winds and rain on May 8 - and New Englanders wonder why jobs are moving south) Miller threw hard and effectively, mixing in 92+ mph fastballs with nasty 12-6 curveballs, and giving up 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 6 and walking only 1. He appeared to be ready to step in immediately and fill his place in the rotation, meaning the rapid end of the John Halama Experience - although Halama hasn't been complete dreck.

While Miller's outing dulls the pain of today's loss considerably, the weekend efforts of Matt Clement (7 IP, 1 ER), Kevin Youkilis (continued timely hitting and some terrific defense at 3B), David Ortiz (6-12 with 4 2B and 2 HR against Seattle), Keith Foulke (all of a sudden rolling), and the recently maligned Jeremi Gonzalez (winner of today's first game with 5 2/3 innings of 2-earned run baseball) all ushered in an entirely unexpected era of good feelings about the Sox. It's almost as if these guys are pretty good and really deep.

And they need to be the latter, because the list of truly injured and just banged up is longer than the delay between seasons of Chappelle's Show. Manny Ramirez took a fastball off his thigh and was forced to leave today's first game but wound up coming into the second game as a replacement for Trot Nixon, who tweaked his back making a tough catch in the 6th inning. Mark Bellhorn - who's missed a series of games lately with the flu - played shortstop because of injuries to Edgar Renteria and Ramon Vasquez. Johnny Damon sat out Friday's win with a sore leg, Papi's had hand trouble for most of the season, and Doug Mirabelli runs so slowly that he appears to be badly injured, even if he probably isn't. That list doesn't even consider Curt Schilling and David Wells, who really haven't been missed all that much.

It wasn't all sunshine and puppydogs in Fenway this weekend. In a day of debuts, Cla Meredith made his major league introduction this afternoon, entering a 2-2 tie and leaving trailing, 6-2, after walking 2, allowing a grand slam to Richie Sexson and a double to Raul Ibanez. To be fair, the Sexson blast was hugely wind-aided, but the walks weren't. Tough spot for a major league debut, but the Sox brought Meredith up to contribute, not as some kind of Make-a-Wish Foundation confidence boost.

Between Meredith and Gonzalez' first names, I'm beginning to wonder if there's some kind of vast conspiracy to replace perfectly good y-ending names with bizarro versions just to be edgy. Our societi is going to hell in a Gucci handbasket, led by the vowel-addled children of my generation. I blame my sister (Beckee, where a totally adequate "y" goes wanting). It's enough to give Yadier Molina a complex.

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