Thursday, June 30, 2005

Game 77: The Stoppers

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Cleveland Indians 2

I ended up going with the NESN broadcast and for the first time this season had a well pitched game by a Boston pitcher on display on my computer for my viewing pleasure. In my lazy and hung over state, I elected to work from home yesterday, giving me the power of TWO computers at my disposal. So, with the desktop in front of me completely devoted to full screen Red Sox broadcast, I was able to happily putter away on laptop and watch the festivities.

Now, while I'm glad the Sox won, this game was also a pretty good contest - both starters kept runs and hits to a minimum until the sixth, when the Sox offense had one of its characteristic explosions; an explosion small enough to keep the game interesting, but also big enough to win.

But Wakefield and Mirabelli, man...I think it was in the postgame show, Dennis Eckersly made a comment to Tom Caron about how the two of them come in every five days and make a lot of noise. Yesterday, Wake had two knucklers that went flat and ended up over the wall in left and enough pitches that were off target enough to end up with four walks, but still got three strikeouts, scattered five hits and only allowed those two runs over seven innings.

Mirabelli was key to the explosion in the sixth: in the fourth, Boston drew first blood with a double by Nixon, a walk by Mueller and an RBI single by John Olerud, who started at first yesterday and continues to tear things up every time he plays, going 2 for 4 and keeping his average at .405. The Indians tied it up with a homerun by Casey Blake in the fifth and went ahead 2 - 1 with a homerun by Victor Martinez
in the sixth. After Wake got out of the inning, the Sox came back with a vengeance: Manny hit a massive double in the centerfield corner of the Green Monster and Nixon scored him with his second double of the game, tying things up for Mirabelli, who came in and launched a bomb over the left field wall and on to Lansdowne Street. Bellhorn, inspired by his example, came up next and made the score 5 - 2 with a solo shot into the right field stands.

After that, it was a matter of holding the fort until the game was over. After six straight balls in the eighth and a talking to by Dave Wallace, Matt Mantei got the next three batters on two fly balls and a strikeout. Ironically enough, the end of the balls also came after NESN played a portion from a Mantei interview with Eckersly where Matt said his control wasn't completely back and his velocity still down because he hadn't entirely relaxed on the mound. Timlin pitched the ninth to give Keith Foulke - who's a bit of a persona non grata in Fenway right now - the day off. After giving up two hits, Timlin got a strikeout, a groundout and a fly out to get his first save of the year and avoid the sweep at home.

Curt Schilling had a successful rehab start with the Paw Sox in South Carolina last night, giving up five hits, one walk and one run in five innings and striking out three. Because Schilling's rehab starts all seem to have some sort of introspection involved - it's never just, "I had a good start, I made some progress" - the ace felt that he really worked through some questions in the second and third inning and started making real progress in the fourth and fifth innings. Pitching has been viewed as science since the days of Harry Wright in the nineteenth century, but Schilling always manages to inject a bit of mysticism into the process. Of course, this is the guy with the Everquest addiction, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. In any case, Schilling is reserving judgment on how many more rehab starts he'll need before he can come back, even though I keep hearing he'll return right before the All Star break. In a way, his reticence makes sense - he's already tried to come back once this year and didn't have much luck and the Sox, although they've done very well in the first half of the season, will need Schilling back and pitching well to keep their hold on their AL East in the second half. If that means waiting until after the break to come back to the rotation, I'm cool with that.

The Sox are off tonight, preparing for the Toronto season this weekend when they get to face the trio of Jays' top pitchers: Lilly on Friday versus Honest Abe, Chacin on Saturday versus the Golden Buddha and Halladay on Sunday versus Guns and Corn.* Toronto may be a .500 team right now, but they've beaten the Sox six out of eight times this year, so it would be good to at least win this series, if not sweep. Orioles and Yankees were rained out last night, so the Sox are back up to two games over the AL East. GO SOX!!!

* - I observed to one of my coworkers that I've given three Red Sox pitchers nicknames that sound like names pro wrestlers would use. She thought about it for a moment, then said that she had been referring to David Wells as Fatty Arbuckle, but that she hadn't been able to get it to catch on.