Monday, July 25, 2005

Games 96 - 98: Splitsville

Final Scores:

Game 96: Boston Red Sox 4, Chicago White Sox 8
Game 97: Boston Red Sox 3, Chicago White Sox 0
Game 98: Boston Red Sox 4, Chicago White Sox 6

So apparently all those rumors about Chicago playing small ball are patently false: they hit home runs instead. The ChiSox hit seven home runs off three different starters this weekend, making the difference in the two games Chicago won. Scott Podsednik did steal two bases and score a run on each day he stole a base, but he was also caught twice. As 12eight points out, one of those times Varitek threw him out was Saturday's game with Wade Miller on the mound - and with Wade having his usual start-of-game problems, either Podsednik or Iguchi, who was picked off first trying to steal, might have scored and changed the face of the game.

As it was, though, not too bad of a series and getting a split with Chicago at home, especially with all those long balls and the killer heat yesterday. A rundown of the good and bad:

The Good:
  • Wade Miller picked up his first win since May 30th, in a quality effort that featured what Miller described as "horrendous a 1-2-3 inning as I've ever had" - the inning that featured the Podsednik caught stealing and the Iguchi pick off mentioned above. Miller, who gave up five hits and four walks over seven innings, is still struggling in the first, so he's not out of the woods yet. Hopefully he can build on this win and figure out how to get into a groove earlier in the game. Manny and Varitek both helped Miller out with the long ball - Manny hit a two run bomb in the first to put the BoSox on the board and V-Tek hit a solo shot in the ninth to add an insurance run for Curt Schilling's second save. Manny also helped in the field - in the ninth, Schilling gave up two singles to get runners on first and second before getting a double play ball hit right back to him to get two out. With a runner on third, Timo Perez hit what looked like a home run to deep left...until Manny snagged it and staggered into the wall for the final out. It surprised me, it surprised the crowd, it surprised Schilling, it surprised Don Orsillo, who thought that the ball would be a hit at least...the only one it didn't seem to phase was Manny. Because, you know, he's so Manny.
  • The Red Sox signed closer-extraordinaire Craig Hansen over the weekend, ending speculation about whether or not the Sox and agent Scott Boras would be able to reach a deal. Hansen is in Florida right now, awaiting assignment - he'll either end up in Single A Wilmington or AA Portland. To make room on the 40 man roster, Boston moved Matt Mantei from the 15 day to the 60 day disabled list, which means, as Robin put it, that Mantei has likely pitched his last days in a Boston uniform. Speaking of AA, Alan saw the Sea Dogs play this weekend and said that Hanley Ramirez looks pretty spectacular, although clearly pretty raw. He played shortstop - I think the idea of him coming up as a centerfielder next year is becoming less and less likely and that if the Sox make any major trades this season, they won't do it for high priced players and will use the salary to resign Johnny Damon or pick up a major league alternative. My guess is that the fate of second base will wait until the end of the season to see where Ramirez is in his development - if the Sox feel they can bring him up next year, we may finally get a taste of him playing second base instead of short.
  • With the Angels taking three out of four games from New York and the Devil Rays sweeping Baltimore, the BoSox hold on to first place with a 1.5 game lead, going into a series with Tampa Bay. Baltimore is try to trade Sidney Ponson to San Diego for first baseman Phil Nevin, who needs to ok the deal and make it difficult for me to make fun of Ponson anymore. Ponson was supposed to be a part of the A.J. Burnett deal - or, conversely, something hindering the Burnett deal because his large salary would prevent Baltimore from being to hold on to Mike Lowell, so it's possible that Burnett may be going to the Orioles after all, instead of Boston or Chicago.
  • Curt Schilling feels he's ready to go back to the starting rotation, given a few 100-pitch outings to start. Tito put the kibosh on the idea pretty quickly, which makes sense - the Sox need him back in complete form later as opposed to partial form now and Keith Foulke is still out of commission. Schilling is key to any post-season hopes the Red Sox want to entertain and fortunately, the front office is very aware of that situation. Gordon Edes points out that the presence of the highly touted A.J. Burnett on the team would give the Red Sox a Pedro-like 2nd punch to back up Schilling in a way Boston's lacked this year, assuming, of course, a healthy Schilling and Foulke. As someone at a party I went to this weekend pointed out, you need three pitchers to make it through the playoffs - does that make Matt Clement this year's Derek Lowe? David Wells, I've been told, will cool off when the weather does - hopefully the majority of the playoffs will be somewhere warm this year.
The Bad:
  • Kevin Millar may have single-handedly cost yesterday's game with a base-running mistake at first. After hitting the ball down the third base line into left field, Millar rounded first base, paused and then headed to second, where a good throw by Podsednik gunner him down. Of course, the next batter, Varitek, hit a home run that would have pulled the BoSox within one of Chicago. The two out rally died when Damon ended the inning with two men on base, but Mueller, who batted second yesterday, was 1 for 2 at the time and might have scored the runners. Millar claims he was thinking two bases when the ball left the bat, but it looked pretty bad on TV.
  • White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who played shortstop with the Red Sox in 1967, is an absolute moron. Because did their usual station switching garbage yesterday, I had the "pleasure" of watching him call a game. The man uses more hick colloquisms (he actually used the phrase "ducks on a pond" at one point to describe the count) and has the most rediculous home run call known to man. At first I thought that there was something wrong with Midwesterners - Hawk has been a broadcaster in Chicago for 30 years now, so it seems they like him - but I see that there are intrepid-minded fans trying to get rid of him. And people wonder why the White Sox are drawing so few fans even with the leading record in the majors.
  • Bronson Arroyo's placement was awful yesterday. Terrible. It may have been the 100 degree, 95% humidity weather, it could have been nerves about the trade rumors, it could have been circumstance, but Arroyo's curveball was not there yesterday.
Boston goes down to St. Pete tonight for a three game set against the Devil Rays, leading into Boston's first game off in 14 days and the start of a home stand against Minnesota. David Wells takes the mound against Doug Waechter on Heckler Day at 7:05. May Joy of Sox' dream come true. GO SOX!!!

Technorati tags: | | | | | |