Thursday, July 28, 2005

Game 101: Steppin' Up

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1

Well, Wakefield came through again, when the bullpen (and heck, the offense) needed him most. With Trot Nixon
(now on the 15 day DL) and Manny Ramirez both out yesterday, Kevin Millar in left, John Olerud at first and Adam Stern in right, Wakefield pitched seven and 1/3 innings of six hit, one unearned run ball with three walks and four strikeouts, picking up his 123rd win with the Red Sox, tying Mel Parnell on the club list. Of course, Wake is 12 and 1 against Tampa Bay, so perhaps the success wasn't a huge surprise, but with the Sox once again seemingly on the verge of collapse the day before an off-day, a strong outing was just what Boston needed. Alex Cora hit his first home run as a Red Sox, a solo shot in the fifth that put the Sox up on the Rays for good. Edgar Renteria scored the third run of the afternoon with a bit of small ball: after a walk to lead off the sixth, Renteria advanced to second by tagging on a David Ortiz pop up to third (yes, a pop up), went to third on a pass ball and scored on a John Olerud sacrifice fly.

Kevin Millar attributes his recent resurgance (.385 with
5 doubles, 5 RBIs, and 14 walks since the All-Star Break) to time he spent working with Mark Bellhorn over the break at home in Texas. He seems to have these little realizations every year - I remember him talking last year about how opening up his stance contributed to his hot streak last year. Now if only he'd have these realizations a bit earlier in the season, he might be a lot more consistent.

Schilling closed the game out last night after neither Chad Bradford nor Mike Myers could finish the job. Yesterday was the first game Schilling has entered a game mid-inning. He walked Eduardo Perez to load the bases, then got Carl Crawford to ground weakly to first on six pitches to end the game. Another step in the evolution of closer: Schilling said he realized after Tuesday's game that as a closer he'd have to pitch inside to hitters to get them out, something he's been discouraged from doing as a starter ever he was young. Crawford's at bat represented his first opportunity to try his new strategy.

Matt Clement is not only out of the hospital, but is guardedly optimistic about making his next start, which continues to be beyond awesome.

The fact that the Boston Sports Media (literally The Globe and The Herald; the Providence Journal and Hartford Courant have no editorials up on the issue) is in full-on attack mode against Manny while bloggers like 12eight, Joy of Sox and Soxaholics are well, voices of reason certainly makes me likely to side against the rabid press. Andrew at 12eight makes an especially good point: basically, we're putting Manny up on way too high of a pedestal. Not that I've ever been anything even close to a celebrity, but from my understanding, the biggest change from normal life is that you've got the spotlight on you at all times because, as Andrew points out, we want our celebrities to be larger than life. The problem is that no one is ever brought up or trained to be famous (except possibly the children of celebrities) and very few people have the personality to handle that much attention in a mature manner. Manny, I'm sure all would agree, is not the most mature of people anyway - I'm sure that even if he had lived the rest of his life in Washington Heights, he would have been known as a guy who liked to goof off - and the celebrity of being such a great hitter has, I'm sure, not helped matters. In a way, the Manny situation is a bit like Charles Barkley telling people that he shouldn't be viewed as a role model. Manny's talent may make him the idol of anyone who wants to be a hitting god, but that doesn't mean he's got the personality to be a public figure, nor should we expect him to. The Sox have confirmed that they are examining trade possibilities for Manny, but obviously, there aren't many teams out there interested in taking on a $20 million contract or offering up anything of interest to Theo.

Tomorrow night marks the beginning of a six game homestand: three games versus Minnesota to finish out the month, then three games versus Kansas City to begin August. Wade Miller hopes for his second win in a row versus Carlos Silva at 7:05. GO SOX!!!

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