Thursday, June 16, 2005

Game 65: Nasty Little Sliders

Final Score

Boston Red Sox 6, Cincinnati Reds 1

It was clear to me that Aaron Harang was going to have trouble in this game when Arroyo struck out the side in the top of the second. It helped that he picked off Ryan Freel after walking him in the first (that was beautiful, by the way - check it out on the game summary page), but striking out the side cinched it. After that, the Sox started hitting doubles, scoring their first run in the third (a pair of doubles from Edgah and Big Papi) and exploding in the fifth with a two run double by Ortiz and a two run single by Bill Mueller. Ortiz's second double was pitched right to his low and outside power zone and he absolutely crushed it - weird off-balance homerun swing and all - but the wind knocked it down enough to hit the wall instead. Meanwhile, Arroyo was striking out eight, scattering six hits and shutting down the Cincinnati bats for third night in the row. Timlin and Foulke again combined for five strikeouts of flawless relief. The team ERA over the past four games is 1.15.

For his part, Harang did strike out seven batters, including Varitek three times (Tek is 0 - 6 lifetime again Harang, with a strikeout each at bat), got Nixon to ground into a double play and stranded 10 runners, but only lasted until the fifth after nine hits and five runs. Hopefully the cold weather in Boston doesn't continue, but even if it does, it's good that it hasn't cooled off the Sox bats.

The most important thing about this sweep, though, is not that the offense heated up and beat up on two mediocre pitchers and one good one, it's that the pitching staff held Cincinnati, with its .336 OPS (tenth in the MLB), .435 SLG (fifth in the MLB) and 323 runs (sixth in the MLB) to four runs on fifteen hits over the whole series. After a terrible run through the rotation last time (and very iffy efforts by the bullpen), it's an excellent thing that the pitching staff has pulled through its slump.

The Sox have the day off today, so I'll be without my fix tonight. Tomorrow night the Pirates come to town for the weekend and the close of this oh-so-short homestand. Wade Miller faces off with Josh Fogg at 7:05. GO SOX!!!