Game 27 – Red Sox
Red Sox 8, Mariners 7
The Sox did their best Harvey Dent impression last night, showing two very different faces on their way to an unexpected victory.
On the one face, Daisuke Matsuzaka was as bad as I’ve seen him in the top of the first inning, walking the first three Mariners while growing increasingly frustrated at the home plate umpire. The M’s wound up plating 5 in the inning on a single hit, as Matsuzaka’s efforts to extricate himself from the self-inflicted trouble were blunted by Julio Lugo’s iron-gloved fielding stylings.
Manny Ramirez needed a whole package of mustard to cover his hotdogging self in the same first inning, as he Willie Mays Hayesed a fly to left, basket catching the ball before flipping it back to the ashen Lugo. I usually enjoy most of the Manny experience, but my state of agitation at watching the Matsu/Lugo show had me in no mood to celebrate his doofus oeuvre.
Rounding out the scar tissue, Jonathan Papelbon remained in the pen in the top of the 9th, despite the fact that the Sox held a one-run lead and he was rested from his unusually long outing on Tuesday. Sox officials and manager Terry Francona are making light of it, saying that they’re trying to ensure that Papelbon makes it through the entire season. That’s fine spin, but out here in Crazyland with the rest of the nutjob fans, I rewind to Tuesday night and remember Paps with just a tiny bit less hop on his fastball and thismuch less bite on his split and start thinking thoughts that I don’t want to talk about at tailgate parties.
Turning to the left and changing profiles, Matsuzaka backed up his abysmal opening inning by keeping the Sox in the game over the next four. He wound up yielding a total of 5 walks and 7 runs – but he once again steeled himself against fairly significant adversity and gave the team a chance to win. Really, at the end of the day, can’t ask for much more from a first-year big leaguer.
I didn’t give Manny a chance to win me back over in person, as I had to go out for the evening to meet a friend. (I’m moving and shaking here, people – bebopping and scatting all over the business world.) As Whitney later informed me via text, Manny was Manny, blasting two homers and breaking out another vat of condiments after his 8th-inning drive to right gave the Sox their game-winning margin. Breakout game for the struggling slugging machine? Perchance to dream.
The aforementioned Lugo (who was originally charged with 2 errors in the first inning, though one of them has been changed to a hit) showed a different face of his own in the bottom of the 2nd, lashing a ground-rule double to deep right-center with the bases loaded. His hit catalyzed a 5-run rally as the Sox quickly dug themselves out of the hole created by Matsuzaka’s erratic opening.
Finally, setting aside the worrisome Papelbon saga, the rest of the bullpen responded brilliantly, with Kyle Snyder, Brendan Donnelly, and JC Romero combining to allow a single Mariner hit over the final 4 innings. Romero got the save, becoming the Sox’ 4th pitcher to record a save over the season’s first 27 games – another testament to the depth at the back of the pitching staff. Unfortunately, looks like the Sox may need it, as Mike Timlin went on the 15-day DL yesterday.
If the loss to Oakland was a downer of a yin, yang just responded with a showman’s flair to balance out the Sox' karmic account. On the road to Minnesota this weekend, land of 10,000 lakes and crappy artificial turf.