Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Game 51: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 1

Wade Miller and the Red Sox played a bit of Survivor last night with Daniel Cabrera and the Orioles, or at least that's what it felt like, watching on ESPN. Every inning, until about the fifth, when it was clear Miller was going to have a normal length outting, Rick Sutcliffe had to make some comment about Miller's shoulder falling off, especially after Miller gave up a run in the third. Meanwhile, the Sox couldn't hit wonderboy Daniel Cabrera with his Big Unit-style height, power fastball and nasty sinker...until wonderboy fell apart in the fifth, much as I expected he would. It was really a matter of catching up with that 97 mph fastball and all the sudden, it might have been last year, when the Sox beat up on Cabrera twice, scoring eleven runs on twelve hits in two starts/six innings. Clearly, the guy's got talent and with control he really could be the next Randy Johnson, but not at age 24.

Oddly enough, the problem wasn't stranding runners for once (seven LOB); it was getting hits. It took until the fourth inning until Mark Bellhorn broke up the no-hitter with a single; before then, the only baserunners Boston had were from walks and an error on the pitcher. With Bellhorn on first and Mueller, who had walked, on second, John Olerud smacked an RBI double. Renteria hit an RBI single, Big Papi added his own RBI single and Trot Nixon hit an RBI fielder's choice off the pitcher. The Sox picked up another run in the seventh to make it and hold it at 5 - 1. Nixon also made a great sliding catch in the fifth to prevent a single (or a double if he had missed it entirely). Yeah, he's the Man.

Meanwhile, Miller's only problem inning came when Jay Gibbons hit a triple to start the third...and that was under special circumstances. Johnny Damon, tracking the ball all the way back into the triangle, missed the catch by feet but plowed into the fence, hitting his right wrist and then his head. He played out the rest of the inning as Gibbons scored on a double by catcher Sal Fasano, but came out afterwards to have his head examined.* He was listed as day to day and said last night he wants to be back in the lineup tonight. Meanwhile, Miller, "bad shoulder" and all, went on to get out of the inning without further disaster and shut down Baltimore for the rest of the night. Heck, besides those two hits, the only other time he was in danger was in the first, when he gave up a homerun distance fly ball from Sammy Sosa that was knocked down by the wind and caught as it was sailing into the wall in center.** The amusing thing was that Sosa was so sure he had just hit another long bomb that he did his homerun hop...only to discover that he had been robbed. Miller made it into the seventh in what he described as his best outting of the year and was relieved by Timlin and Myers, who were perfect to close out the game. Sox are now in sole possession of second place, three back from Baltimore.

Tonight, Sidney "Pontoon" Ponson against Wakefield. ESPN decided to point out last night that every starter the Orioles have comes from a different country, creating some sort of pretty rainbow of multi-cultural starterdom. I think I prefer black and blue, as in the colors the Sox offense will make that rainbow when they shell those pitchers. GO SOX!!!

* Yes, I'm punning off his being the chief Idiot. I'm so damned clever!
** Yes, center field was a popular spot for Orioles hitting in the early innings.