Thursday, August 18, 2005

Games 117 - 118: Stumble

Final Scores:

Game 117: Boston Red Sox 10, Detroit Tigers 7
Game 118: Boston Red Sox 5, Detroit Tigers 6

A game won because Alan Trammell had a mental-miscue and took out his young pitcher, who was shutting down the Sox and brought in his weak bullpen to get beat up and a game lost because Tito sent out a still-sick David Wells to get beat on for four innings. Because the Yankees are now 4 and 9 versus Tampa Bay this year, Boston picked up a game and as the Herald kindly reminds us, in the AL this year, it’s no one’s race just yet. Even in on the South side of Chicago, where they have the best record in the American League and still only get about 70% attendance, 13th overall, things aren’t completely set for a pennant.

On a totally unrelated note, statistics are your friend.

I tuned in to Tuesday’s game just as the 10th inning rally started and had the satisfaction of seeing only good things come off of Red Sox bats. I even saw Mike Remlinger get his first outs as a Sox reliever, despite giving up a grand slam to Magglio Ordonez in the same inning. Yesterday, I caught the final two innings, after the damage to Wells and, just as importantly, the offense had grounded into four of its five double plays. Remlinger pulled a complete reversal by giving up one hit and no runs in 1 and 2/3rds innings, Gonzo continues to impress with another two innings of scoreless relief – maybe he should have started instead – and Older Dude returned from the DL just where he left off, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run. In the end, though, even though the human clutch machine, the Big Papi, the Ortizzle, saved the game for the Sox on Tuesday with his long ball power, he wasn’t able to deliver this time around, grounding into double play number five. Not the best way to play against a team that Sox should have had no problems taking out and not the way to go to California to play the Angels, but fortunately the State of the Nation and more importantly of the players is to be able to shrug a blow like this one off without too many problems. Well, maybe the players can. The fans, from what I’ve been reading, seem to be prone to the same irrationality they’ve always had, God love ‘em.

Manny took the day off yesterday, opting to take off yesterday’s game instead of one of the games against the Angels. He was available to pinch and would have come in at two different junctures, but the Sox ended both innings before he could come up. Terry Francona told the press that Manny told him he was “beat” before the game – the Herald cites his recent fielding mishaps as perhaps being the root of Manny’s request. Yes, Manny is 5 for 8 against Bonderman, yesterday’s pitcher, but as 12eight points out, not counting the two games Francona sat him around the trade deadline, the only Sox who’s played in more games this year is David Ortiz. Besides, Manny’s absence is a big deal only because the Sox lost and Boston should blame that loss on five double plays, not a lack of Manny. Not that the media blowing something out of proportion is surprising…

Kevin Millar may be a hitting bum who hasn’t a home run in 175 at-bats and was in a 0 for 13 slump until a single last night in the eighth, but he does love to play. With Francona saying that there’s no need to settle on a division of playing time at first base between Millar, Olerud and Petagine, which I can only imagine means Olerud getting most of the playing time at first, I’m curious as to how Millar will get the chance to find his swing again. I’ve suggested making him team cheerleader in the past – Red’s idea of firing The Moron and making Millar the third base coach in his stead seems a viable way to make it happen.

Speaking of losing out on chances to make good, the Mark Bellhorn-in-Boston-era may be drawing to a close, with Tito finally naming Tony G. as his second baseman. Assuming no one claims him off of waivers after his rehab period expires, Bellhorn would have to agree to a minor league contract to stay with the Sox and then come back up after September 1. If he refuses the contract, which the Herald says is likely, he’d be DFA’d, where he’d most likely end up as a free agent - $725,000 in remaining salary being too steep for another team to want to trade for him. Not that I think he should start, but it’s still sad to see an important member of the 2004 team fall so far so quickly.

Craig Hansen’s high 90s low-in-the-zone fastball is all the rage right now, to the point where the talk of bringing him up to the Show before the end of the year is becoming fairly prevalent. With Ricky Bottalico struggling (8.31 ERA in 4 and 1/3rd innings/4 games) and Matt Perisho having mixed success (2.84 ERA in 6 and 1/3rd innings/6 games) in AAA, especially when compared with Hansen’s perfect efforts so far – 9 strike outs and 6 hits in 7 innings/5 games in the rookie league and AA – it’s not hard to see why having Hansen up to bolster the bullpen seems so attractive, along with Mini Manny and Jon Papelbon. Even if Remlinger goes on to prove that yesterday was not a fluke performance, Theo’s homegrown talent may be the biggest part of this year’s end of the year effort…how exciting is that?

The Stopper versus Colon tonight at the ridiculously late 10:05. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | roberto petagine | jon papelbon | manny delcarmen | mike remlinger | david ortiz | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | craig hansen