Monday, August 08, 2005

Games 108-110: Mistakes Were Made

Final Scores:

Game 108: Boston Red Sox 0, Minnesota Twins 12
Game 109:
Boston Red Sox 3, Minnesota Twins 4
Game 110:
Boston Red Sox 11, Minnesota Twins 7

"Take the win and get the hell out of here. This place, I hate coming to this place. Balls bouncing everywhere. We were probably to blame. We needed a win today. We got the win. Let's go home."
- Terry Francona on the Metrodome, 8/8/05

I'm not sure if it was the Metrodome, some twisted desire to keep the AL East race as close as possible or an enormous mental collapse, but almost everyone in the Red Sox infield (Arroyo included) forgot how to throw properly this weekend.


A first inning miscue by Johnny Damon (who still hates the roof, apparently) led to Lew Ford ending up on third base with what was scored a triple. Then, four batters later, Kevin Millar found himself in possession of the ball after an infield grounder by Jacque Jones...with no one covering first base. With the bases now loaded, Arroyo went on to compound the problem by catching Justin Morneau's chopped ground ball and throwing a sinker to second base (instead of trying to get the runner at home) - Renteria couldn't handle the throw and the ball skipped into left field, allowing three runs to score. By the time the Sox escaped, it was four to nothing Twins and Arroyo had thrown 40 pitches. He lasted until the fourth, when a throwing error by Bill Mueller led to three more runs.

Meanwhile, Brad Radke was pretty much unhittable, helped in large part by centerfielder Lew Ford, who seemed to be channelling the spirit of the injured Torii Hunter - he robbed Kevin Millar of his first home run in forever with a leaping catch, made some other difficult catches and generally had an excellent night. By the sixth, Tito went into his "we're not going to win" mode and brought in the scrubs. I couldn't find come from behind wins stats, but I'm wondering how effective Tito's long view strategy is versus that of say, Joe Torre (I know the Yankees had a lot of come from behind wins last year), who seems to leave everyone in on the off chance they'll stage a comeback. More of a query than a criticism, though.


The Golden Buddha was practically flawless through five innings, then gave up five straight singles in the sixth before Tito pulled him. I'm with Allen of Joy of Sox on this one: this slow hook thing has to go. The Sox, who were up three to nothing on Santana, suddenly found themselves in a three to three tie until the bottom of the ninth, when two straight throwing errors - one by Bill Mueller, who wasn't able to plant his feet properly and the other by Timlin, who threw a sinker to second base (seeing a pattern here?) - cost the Sox the game.


Retribution time. The Sox came out of the gate with all guns blazing (how's that for mixing metaphors?) and scored five runs on six hits in the first, three runs in the fifth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth, including a Gabe Kapler solo shot and a Manny two-run blast (part of a four for four day). The Manny home run had the special distinction of being a called shot - the previous pitch by J.C. Romero, the guy we're glad we didn't trade for, almost hit Ramirez. I turned to Robin and said, "you know what happens when Manny almost gets hit by a pitch, right?" Man-Ram now dominates both leagues with 103 RBI - eleven more than Texas' Mark Teixeira and thirteen more than Milwaukee's Carlos Lee. Even Petagine, who had been hitless through yesterday, knocked in three runs with a bases-clearing double...although he was then thrown out trying to take third by about six feet. Would have been more important if the Sox lost - for now, the important thing is the hit.

All those runs were necessary, though, because even though Tim Wakefield lived up to his Stopper nickname and pitched a fantastic eight inning game (including a career high eleven strike outs), there were two big rough patches: in the third, the Twins managed to put together a three run rally and in ninth, Manny Delcarmen got two outs then fell apart, issuing two walks and three singles to load the bases. Schilling came on to close the game out (and get his ninth save), getting Jacque Jones to strike out after walking in a run. Little Manny lost his perfect ERA in the process, but it was that sort of weekend.

Francona gave Bill Mueller the day off yesterday, opting, for whatever reason, to play Alex Cora in his place. Alex Cora, who's never played a game at third, but has played plenty at second...while Tony Graffanino, conveniently playing second base, has put in plenty of time at the hot corner. Cora, of course, was not up to the task, committing two throwing errors on fairly routine plays. In what world does not switching these two guys this situation not make sense? It's not like Graf is going to hit any better or worse by playing third base and if it did, it might help Cora to play second, because he was the only Red Sox to not get a hit. Maybe it was just the weekend.

Keith Foulke throws off the mound for the first time today. If it goes well, additional sessions will follow on Wednesday and Friday and then Foulke will start throwing to hitters. There's some contention about whether or not Foulke will make a minor-league rehab start; Foulke says he doesn't want to, Francona says he will if the club tells him to. Foulke should be back in about two weeks if all goes according to plan and even then, it remains to be seen if he can get people out like he did last year. It's odd to think that the rest of the season may very well hinge on the effectiveness of Foulke's rehab: if he can close, Schilling will go back to the rotation, Arroyo will shore up the bullpen and the Sox can go into the post-season with a decent rotation. If not, Boston will either have to go with what it has now, or try to dig up another effective starter. Even if Foulke comes back strong, a lot depends on David Wells' effectiveness when the weather gets cold again - I've heard a few people blame his early season problems on stiffness in his back brought on by the cold and he's supposed to take the place of Derrek Lowe or Pedro Martinez in this year's version of the post-season rotation.

I had idly wondered since the All-Star Game how many players were in the MLB today, after ESPN mentioned that 91 of those players came from the Dominican Republic alone - I was curious as to whether or 91 was as large a number as it seemed, especially for such a small area of the world. Thanks to Gordon Edes, I know: it's about 750, with Dominicans making up a decent twelve percent of the total. Add in an additional 100 or so players from other Latin American countries and that many of the games biggest stars hail from Latin American countries and it becomes even more obvious what an idiot Larry Krueger is.

Sox are back home tonight to start a three game set against Texas - Wade Miller versus Ricardo Rodriguez. Let's hope they keep the channeled spirit of R. Lee Ermey in mind and start throwing the ball at the professional level again. GO SOX!!!

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