Thursday, August 03, 2006


Game 106 – Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Indians 5
Record: 64-42

And on the 7th day, Papi rested. (Ducking.)

So the Legend of Ortiz grows. His presence looming in the on-deck circle contributed directly to Fausto Carmona’s subconscious decision to groove a fastball to Mark Loretta. Too much? Yeah, okay.

In truth, Papi was abysmal last night, but Loretta’s 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom of the 9th made unlikely winners out of the Sox. Down to their last strike with Doug Mirabelli at the plate and nobody on base, the Sox basically stood by and watched as Carmona hit Mirabelli and Alex Gonzalez with consecutive pitches then walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases to set up Loretta’s heroics. As the rally built and the crowd grew more and more animated, Indians skipper Eric Wedge looked for all the world like a guy going through an anesthetic-free colonoscopy.

The Sox benefited from the fact that the Indians playoff chances have long since gone the way of Cory Snyder and Joe Charbonneau. If last night’s game had mattered to the Tribe, Carmona would have been yanked after plunking Gonzalez, especially on the heels of his implosion on Monday night. Hell, if the Indians were still in the race, Bob Wickman would still be manning the back end of the bullpen instead of tearing it up in Atlanta and the Sox might be staring at a 4-game losing streak.

Jon Lester showed once again why Theo and the front office were so reluctant to move him at the trade deadline, recovering from a rocky first inning to post another rock-solid outing. The Tribe battered the young lefty for 3 runs on 4 ringing hits in the top of the 1st, and given a chance to throw in the towel and take a beating, Lester fought back to shut out the talented Indian offense over the next 5 frames. Manny Delcarmen and Jon Papelbon spun perfect innings, leaving old guy Mike Timlin as the only pitcher on the evening with a less-than-glowing report card. Travis Hafner has a way of doing that to pitchers of all stripes. It’s a shame he doesn’t get more press, because he’s arguably the most fearsome hitter in the world right now. Well, second-most fearsome.

Wily Mo Pena hit the most ferocious line drive homer I can recall to give the Sox a short-lived 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 6th – Jerry Remy just laughed as the ball rocketed off the facing of the Monster seats and caromed back towards the infield. Wily Mo’s doing his part to make Sox fans forget that other right-fielder, ol’ whatshisname. If only he could play catcher. Pena’s also growing a Papi-style beard, perhaps in hopes of capturing some of no. 34’s magic.

Coco Crisp and Gonzalez combined on a sick defensive play to keep the Sox in the game in the 6th inning, Crisp running deep into centerfield to snare a fly against the wall and Gonzalez sprinting to flag down Crisp’s errant throw (I’m afraid that phrase is a bit redundant) and flip it to first to double up a stunned Victor Martinez.

Yet another heart-stopping win for the Crashcart Sox – that makes 6 walk-off victories since June 10. If they’re not careful, they’re gonna start raising expectations.

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