Saturday, August 20, 2005

Game 120: It's Only Worth It If You Work For It

Final Score:

Boston Red 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3

After remarking on the quality of the Angels broadcasters while watching the first hour of this game, I’ve decided to try my hand at that liveblogging thing the kids are so crazy about. Enjoy:

10:59 - The Angels broadcasters have the game tonight and they're actually pretty good; calm, good insight on the little details,* not too kitschy, fairly balanced in their commentary - and the day after the Angels dealt a crushing defeat to Boston, no less. This quality is surprising for two reasons:
  1. They're broadcasting for Fox Sports Net. Fox executives take note: not everyone who broadcasts for you has to suck like Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. In fact, it's better if they don't.
  2. Angels fan don't have the reputation for being the best or most intelligent fans – these are the people who came up with the Rally Monkey, after all, not to mention the park has those weird flares that go up when the Angels hit a home run. Having intelligent broadcasters means that Anaheim’s fans may not be beyond hope.
11:00 - Jason Varitek just bunted – he meant it to be a sacrifice to advance Ortiz, but he placed it so well that he turned it into a hit. I'm speechless with delight. Tito’s playing small ball tonight – the first run scored after two bunts and a groundout. I think he’s come to the realization that the hits aren’t quite coming out right now – maybe he’s also banking on the Angels not expecting Boston, a team that never bunts, to try and pull the sacrifice.
11:02 – Even the competition calls Bill Mueller professional; it must be true. Of course, he just popped up on the first pitch, so looks may be deceiving.

11:07 – From what I’m hearing, Steve Finley is Anaheim’s equivalent of Kevin Millar. With twice the salary…and none of the cheerleading.

11:11 – After giving up a long single, Clement gets out of the inning with a double play, smoothly executed by Magic Helmet. The man is poetry in motion at the plate and on the field, which is why he’s so preferable to Kevin Millar.

11:15 – Researching the link to Joy of Sox in the intro, I see that the Mark Bellhorn era is officially over and that Trot Nixon managed to nail Keith Foulke in the arm this afternoon. On Bellhorn, much like with Alan Embree, I’ll chose to remember you for the really good: for the two home runs in post-season last year that really made the difference, especially the one that bounced off that girl’s jacket in left field – first ruled a double, then ruled a home run after umpire consultation. Like that ruling, you truly were a surprise last year and I wish you the best in the future.

On Nixon/Foulke: fortunately, Trot did no real damage (he hit the fleshy part of the arm) and Foulke believes he’ll be back before September 1st. Nixon plans to go on rehab assignment tomorrow and hopes to be back in the lineup by the Kansas City series. The timing is certainly very good – we’ll finally know what’s up with Foulke very, very soon.

11:27 – The Angels are threatening, with runners on first and third with nobody out and Vlad up. The announcers said that part of his success since the All-Star Break is that he’s reigned in on his free-swinging nature…but he just popped-out on the first pitch. No Pepsi commercials here.

11:28 – Vlad’s popup was the first fly-out of the game…we’re in the fourth inning. I wonder what the record is. I also wonder how hard that stat would be to find on Google.

11:30 – Clement conjures another double play to escape the threat, God bless him.

11:31 – Weinerschnitzel is a restaurant too?! I thought it was just a funny German word. Also, why are the commercials a good deal louder than the baseball broadcast?

11:35 – FSN just showed the NL Wildcard race standings – 5 teams within 2.5 games. I’m willing to bet it’s going to come down to the end, like last year. They also just mentioned that the last three World Series winners were Wild Card winners. Of course, we all know that records were made to be broken.

11:38 – Runners on first and third, one out. It’s Magic Helmet time. Assuming Lackey doesn’t throw the ball away first.

11:40 – He battled, and then Magic Helmet smacks it into center. Manny scores, then Varitek scores from first with a nice slide. I’m convinced sending Varitek was another screw up by the Moron that he happened to luck out on.

11:46 – After remarking on how Nixon hit Foulke in the arm this afternoon, FSN goes on to show the montage of hit pitchers from the past month: Clement (I still wince horribly), Wakefield and Foulke. Gabe Kapler pops out to the catcher, stranding Magic Helmet on third and The Professional on first. John Lackey, who should be out of the game by now, escapes to come back for the next inning.

11:51 – The Angels score after Casey Kotchman doubles, goes to third on a grounder and then comes home after a mental-miscue by Magic Helmet, who tries to throw out Kotchman at home but makes a poor throw.

11:54 – Manny Being Manny: Ramirez makes one of those weird plays in left that he loves to make just to scare the crap out of the fans – this time a half leaping catch to the side of the ball. If he misses, the ball goes into the corner and runs score. I think the FSN announcers just called Manny “Dr. Strangeglove.”

11:56 – With runners on the corners, Orlando Cabrera pops up towards the first base foul line. Neither Kapler nor Cora must have gotten a very good jump on the ball, as the ball almost falls for a hit until Cora makes a full extension leaping catch that makes him look like a receiver stretching for a touchdown.

12:04 – Example of good commentary from the FSN announcers: Renteria strikes out by checking his swing a little too high and thus bringing the tip of his bat across the plate. The Angels announcers point out that Renteria did exactly what you should do in those circumstances – act like you just drew a walk and trot down to first base until you hear otherwise.

12:12 – Varitek strikes out to end the top of the sixth – the Sox have now stranded 11 runners. Remember that point earlier in the year when everyone wondered why Manny wasn’t hitting? Lackey intentionally walked him this inning, but this game is starting to feel that way.

12:16 – To match Cora, Bill Mueller makes a beautiful sliding catch in foul ground on an Erstad pop-up, a ball that I disregarded because it was essentially in the Angels dugout. Word to the Professional.

12:23 – John Lackey is done for the night, pulling off a decent outing despite control problems. The FSN announcers go onscreen for their Lackey recap; Steve Physioc has a haircut that makes him look like a crested lizard. Kevin Gregg comes on in relief – he hasn’t given up an earned run in his last 11 appearances.

12:27 – Magic Helmet leads off with a single, but doesn’t get beyond first base as the Sox hit three strong fly outs in a row to end their half of the seventh.

12:43 – Edgar Renteria came within feet of his first home run since June, only to be robbed by Rivera in left. Edgah’s response: pushups in the dug out.

12:45 – Big Papi’s not looking so hot at the plate right now; swinging at bad pitches, looking foolish – and he ends the top of the ninth by striking out looking. And then gets himself tossed for arguing balls and strikes on a close call during the commercial break. Since this field is the same field where Ortiz ended up with a suspension after throwing bats on the field, it doesn’t seem like Angel’s Stadium and David Ortiz get along very well.

12:49 – Clement is done. Great line: 7 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts. The offense may not be having a great night, but Clement certainly did – Timlin on to help Matt get his 12th win.

12:55 – The Angels pull a steal with Cabrera on and a double steal after intentionally walking Guerrero. Why is Timlin not holding these runners on?

12:59 – Timlin blows it, hanging a slider on the outside corner to Bengie Molina, who drives it into the corner to clear the bases and tie the game. Again, why wasn’t Timlin trying to hold those runners?

1:02 – Casey Kotchan grounds out to shortstop, ending the inning with the score tied 3 – 3. Now would be a good time not to be down a DH.

1:17 – The Sox get runners as far as second, taking Magic Helmet out for Adam Stern (presumably to avoid the double play). All for naught, as Bill Mueller strikes out looking on a breaking ball on the corner and Alex Cora grounds to first. Curt Schilling comes in to relieve Timlin, Millar takes Olerud’s spot at first. Shoot me now. Millar, when you come up, I want a home run. Nothing less.

1:25 – Schilling strikes out two in a 1-2-3 inning to end the bottom of the ninth. This game is headed into extra innings.

1:33 – Scot Shields, owner of 25 holds, comes on in relief of K-Rod. After singles by Kapler and Damon, Renteria strikes out looking on a close call. Petagine comes to bat in place of Ortiz.

1:39 – After a 10 pitch battle, Shields walks Petagine to load the bases. It’s so time for Manny Being Manny, as the active grand slam leader steps to the plate.

1:42 – Well, not quite what I was hoping, but after getting to 2 and 2 without a swing, Manny chops a ball to short. Chone Figgins’ only play is to first and Kapler scores. 4 to 3, Boston. Varitek hits into the exact same force out to end the top of the 10. Let’s wrap this up, bullpen.

1:52 – Schilling strikes out two more batters and gets Darin Erstad to pop out to Renteria end the game; Sox win 4 to 3 in a nearly 4 hour grinder that saw the Sox leave 16 men on base, half in scoring position. With the exception of Timlin, Boston’s pitching was excellent tonight – Schilling had a perfect two innings to get his fifth win of the season. Clement should have gotten his twelfth win; the blame for his no-decision can, I think, be placed just as squarely on the hitters not coming up big in the clutch as on Timlin’s mistake to Molina.

Guns and Corn tomorrow afternoon against The Lesser Santana (Ervin). GO SOX!!!
* - To the point where even though Lackey was struggling through the first inning, I was still worried about what he was going to do, because these two announcers focused on the strategy of throwing the right pitches at the right time and avoiding challenging the dangerous Boston offense with the fastball.

tags: baseball | red sox | roberto petagine | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | curt schilling | keith foulke | trot nixon | matt clement | david ortiz