Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Game 129: We Brought The Thunder

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 10, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6

It may have rained for an hour and 43 minutes in the second inning, shortening, though not spoiling Clement’s excellent outing (5 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strike outs) against a Tampa Bay club that’s 25 and 14 since the All-Star Break and was fresh off sweeping the Angels at home. David Wells may have had the most awesomely obnoxious press conference ever, basically threatening to beat the Commissioner of baseball if/when the Sox win the World Series this year. Don’t mess with his cake, indeed. Mark Bellhorn may be a Yankee now, much to the dismay of Oakland. Jason Giambi may have homered again to snatch another victory from the jaws of defeat in Seattle. None of this matters, though, because the Sox destroyed Tampa Bay last night, achieving a dominance belied by the score – at one point the Sox led 10 – 2, until the youngins (Papelbon and Alvarez) surrendered five runs in the seventh and eighth. David Ortiz hit home runs number 34 and 35 and Johnny D led off the Boston half of the first with a solo shot, part of a 2 run first that knocked Seth McClung out of the game after three outs. Johnny later took a pitch off the hand in the sixth and left the game with a bruise; he’s listed as day to day and will most likely sit out two days of TBay lefties. Gabe Kapler, who played center after Damon came out, ended the game with a tremendous diving catch on what would have otherwise been a double, if not a triple. After a hard, multiple week battle, Matt Clement is now in proud possession of win number 12.

Speaking of Giambi, at what point does his resurgence become suspect? Since the All-Star Break, the guy’s had the same number of runs, half as many hits, five more home runs and the same number of RBI, in 85 less at-bats. He’s got an OPS that’s up over 300 points and most of that comes from higher slugging. True, Giambi has struck out about half as many times since July, so maybe he’s figured out how to see the ball properly again, but when a guy goes off the juice, has a terrible first half and then, just two days ago sets a new career high of 7 RBI in one game, you have to wonder what’s up. Boston may have its share of home run mashers (yesterday was Big Papi’s seventh multiple home run game of the year), but at least they’ve been consistently powerful all year, or, in Manny’s case, subject to weird slumps that seem to be related more to attitude than anything else.

Not that I was entirely expecting him to be a Red Sox this year (although I had my hopes), but Craig Hansen’s meteoric rise to the top has stopped – temporarily at least and possibly for the rest of the year – as the young fireballer has developed a case of tired arm, similar to the exhaustion suffered by pitchers in Spring Training. With the ghost of Cla Meredith still floating around (and possibly coming up to the big club in two days), the news presumably made the Front Office even more eager to delay Hansen’s promotion until this key member of the bullpen’s future is ready to go. In the meantime, Theo acquired Chad Harville, a 28 year old right handed reliever with high velocity and control problems from Houston off waivers. Harville, a former Billy Beane project, has a 4.46 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP in 38.1 innings, but does sport a .254 opposing AVG. Harville has yet to be activated, but it sounds like he’s another arm to cover the pitching gap in the bullpen – a way to get more innings without exhausting arms and, as keeping with this year’s theme, hopefully minimize the damage so that the offense can win games. On the less cynical end, it may also be that El Guapo’s Ghost is correct and that one of the Sox coaches sees a flaw they can fix in Boston’s newest acquisition, turning him into a genuine relief presence.

Game 2 tonight: Schilling makes return outing number two against Scott Kazimir at 7:05. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | david wells | mark bellhorn | manny ramirez | david ortiz | craig hansen | matt clement | jason giambi