Sunday, April 15, 2007


Game 10 - Red Sox

Red Sox 8, Angels 0
Record: 6-4

When Jason Varitek lined out to center to leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, this game turned from mildly frustrating to cat-kicking aggravating. The Sox had similarly failed in the bottom of the second, with Julio Lugo swinging at ball four and flying to center with the bases loaded to allow Angels starter Hector Carrasco off the hook. Varitek's failure to come through in the clutch was especially wrenching considering the fact that Erik Hinske had led off the bottom of the third with a triple in front of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Sox stranded 7 runners in the game's first 3 innings, and appeared well on their way to boosting drywall repair bills across New England.

Except that Varitek didn't line out to center. His swing connected so purely with Carrasco's offering that the ball screamed to center in an unholy conflagration of Josh Beckett's fastball and Tim Wakefield's knuckler, caroming painfully off of Gary Matthews' wrist and bounding away to allow the game's first two runs to score. Matthews was charged with an error, but he had absolutely no chance. After fate opened the doors for the Sox' offense, they did the rest, battering the Angels' bullpen for 6 more runs to back Curt Schilling's second win in as many outings.

And just like that, the Sox chose Frost's path, traveling the road they've largely eschewed during the season's first 10 games and taking the easy route to victory. Schilling was dominant again, going 8 innings and allowing 4 hits and no runs. Papi drove in 4 runs, the final 3 on a mammoth blast to deepest centerfield. Hinske played his role to perfection, reaching base 4 times and scoring 3 runs in his first start of the season. Mike Lowell made a sick diving grab to keep Schilling out of trouble in the early going, and Brendan Donnelly pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out the tidy victory.

The Sox reach the 1/16th pole with the American League's best ERA, posting a 2.79 mark to date. Sox starters have averaged 6.2 innings per game, allowing 18 earned runs and 48 hits in 62 innings. With the offense scuffling along to a .722 OPS and scoring runs in uneven lumps (1,7,4,0,4,3,14,0,10, and 8 in the first 10 games) the staff has clearly been the squad's dominant unit in the early going.

That early going looks to stall here for a while, just like the massive storm front that's taken up residence on the East Coast. Today's tilt with the Angels has already been washed out, and tomorrow's traditional early morning Patriots' Day game will almost certainly meet with the same fate. As an aside, Whit and I have a friend running the Boston Marathon tomorrow. With forecasts calling for sub-40 temps and 20-30 mph winds, I sincerely hope he ducks into the first open pub and spends his morning quaffing whiskey and smoking cigarettes instead of carrying out his scheduled agenda. Knowing our guy, the odds of him choosing the former are probably better than even. We'll be rooting for him either way.

I've got tickets to tomorrow night's Mets/Phils contest at Citizen's Bank Park in the City of Brotherly Love. (One day we'll examine the most ironic/least fitting city nicknames. Outside of Baltimore's Charm City moniker, Philly's may well be the most laughably ill-suited nom de metro. The City of Fuck You, Asshole is a bit closer to accurate, but doesn't sell as many t-shirts.) As much as I really would like to see the ballpark, I also really like the fact that I've never had pneumonia, and sitting outside in drizzly, 40-degree weather doesn't make the few-of-my-favorite-things list. I'll still probably go, but I'll reserve the right to whine and complain bitterly.

The large-scale washouts across the league put a bit of a damper on the celebration the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's barrier-shattering debut with the Dodgers. I know as much about the black experience as I do about particle physics, so I'm ill-suited to provide much worthwhile commentary here. I do think that recent highly-charged and widely publicized events frame Robinson's struggle and ultimate triumph in much starker and more remarkable terms. If 60 years later, we're still struggling to gain relative equilibrium and transparency on racial issues, what must society have been like in 1947?

As the answer to that question damns us all in places we don't want to talk about at cocktail parties, it also serves to elevate Jackie Robinson's accomplishments beyond their already esteemed status. End of misplaced rant, and back to your regularly scheduled idiocy in a few days when I get back from Philly.

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