Friday, August 18, 2006

Armageddon Time

Games 114 through 119 - Red Sox

Red Sox 9, Orioles 2
Red Sox 8, Orioles 7
Red Sox 11, Orioles 9
Tigers 7, Red Sox 4
Tigers 3, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 6, Tigers 4
Record: 69-50

My sanity, nursed back to health by the California sunshine (Monterey is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.) and a Sox-free week, is 4 hours from being sorely tested once again. When last my shadow darkened this space, the Sox were reeling, battered about by the league’s cellar-dwellers. Somewhere, off in the distance, you could hear a soft, feeble current carrying hope that this weekend’s series with the Yankees might mean something, but it was a hope born of obligation to the cause, lacking any real conviction.

Lo and behold, the magic balm of the Charm City 9 once again cast a restorative spell on the Sox offense, as the Sox extended their mastery of the Orioles before stumbling slightly against the Tigers. The Angels and O’s both played the Yankees tough, and I emerge from my brief sabbatical blinking against the klieg lights of a made-for-TV epic.

New York. Boston. 5 games in 4 days with the fate of the free world in the balance. I exaggerate, but only slightly more than the talking heads in Bristol and their counterparts in the sports media megadome.

In keeping with my recently discovered cleansing rituals, I’m trying to keep a lid on expectations for the series, especially knowing that the Sox will be running out Jason Johnson this afternoon against Chien-Ming Wang. Jon Lester takes his gifted left arm out to the hill in the nightcap, but he also brings his youth and recent wildness with him. Trust me when I say that I’d be more than happy with a split in today’s action.

Beckett, Schilling, and Wells take the ball in the series’ final 3 games against Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Cory Lidle. On paper, all 3 of those contests are tighter than Mel Gibson on a Saturday night. Paper, though, hasn’t proven over the past several weeks to be worth much more than that Rick Ankiel rookie card I’ve got framed in the den. And that’s one of the maddeningly beautiful things about baseball – all the predictions and guesswork amount to exactly bupkes in this most unpredictable of games. Only in baseball can Jason Johnson, Miguel Cairo, Rudy Seanez, Nick Green, or Alex Cora mean more than Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, or David Ortiz on any given day. Okay, I take back the Ortiz part, but my point remains otherwise intact.

Nothing to do, then, but watch the games and see what happens – and try really hard not to break any furniture or small appliances.

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