Sunday, May 07, 2006

Smokin' in the Boys Room

Games 29 through 31 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Orioles 3
Red Sox 9, Orioles 3
Red Sox 10, Orioles 3
Record: 19-12

As the noted philosopher and St. Louis Cardinals fan Nelly once opined, it's getting hot in here. And by here, in mean MLC - today's Mets result notwithstanding, and even with the Metros misfortunatos the 2 squads nearest and dearest to our hearts have taken a combined 9 of 11 on their current homestands. We will not, to the relief of our female fans, be taking off all our clothes.

My disdain for the Baltimore franchise is well-documented in this space, especially since they seemed to reserve their best efforts over the past 2 seasons for the Sox. Seemed is in past tense on purpose, as today's rout marked Boston's 11th consecutive victory over the O's. In all the excitement, I'd kinda lost track. Or never actually noticed, whichever. Either way, that's a happy-making "fuck you" to Peter Angelos that comes with a boost in the standings - the very best kind of doubleheader.

The Sox blew through the reeling O's this weekend on the strength of a well-rounded, solid but definitely not spectacular team effort. Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, and Lenny Dinardo(!) all did their jobs, recording enough outs to keep games close, and sitting back to collect Ws as the offense hit the skidding O's staff early and often. The here-maligned middle relief had moderate success, with Julian Tavarez and Rudy Seanez (again, !) contributing and keeping Jonathan Papelbon's arm from falling off for another week or so. Tavarez, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Freddy Krueger, appears moments away from grabbing a machete from his pants leg and disemboweling an unfortunate batboy, but he's getting outs at the moment.

Offensively, Mike Lowell is scorching, putting up 4 doubles in the series (he's now got a league-leading 17) and reaching base 7 times in 13 plate appearances. Manny detonated a homer over the Monster seats last night, which generally presages a 10 to 15-game streak of otherworldly mashing. Jason Varitek's bat woke up this weekend, capped by his granny off of ex-Met Kris Benson in today's opening frame. Mark Loretta is slowly creeping back to respectability, with a 3-for-4 today. The Greek God of Sweet Swinging raised his average to .330 with a 7-for-13 series and has touched off debates across the Nation about whether he's stolen Coco Crisp's leadoff role when the latter returns from the DL later this month. Says here in MLC that he's earned the spot, especially given the fact that he'd likely be on base 5% more of the time than Coco, but I don't wear the manager's uniform. Though I do like to dress up like the Dread Pirate Roberts while my wife...oh, too much?

The only downside of late is the recent swoon of everybody's favorite gregarious Dominican. Papi's 1 for his last 20, and although the 1 hit was a game-winning 3-run double on Friday, it looks to this rank amateur that the insane overshifts employed by opposing managers are in his head. I've seen at least 5 hits stolen by the shift in the last week alone, so the strategy is obviously working at the micro level. Even more worrisome, I think Papi's depressed, at least in a baseball sense. He's seemed resigned to his fate in the past week - time for some radical therapy.

I took my daughter to her first big-league game today - if you can count a Pirates/Nationals tilt as such. As expected, her attention span lasted about 2 innings, though she very much enjoyed the Racing Presidents on the RFK Stadium Jumbotron. We lasted a total of 5 frames, mostly through sugar-related bribes, but did get to see Jose Guillen crush a Zach Duke offering into the 400 level. Positive experience for dad and daughter, which was the goal.

Big week ahead for the summer-hot MLC squads, with the Sox in the Bronx and the Mets at the Phillies. Terrific pitching matchups abound in the Sox/Yanks series, as Beckett, Schilling, and Wakefield face Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Shawn Chacon. Roll the balls out and let's see which team stays hot.

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