Saturday, September 17, 2005

Game 147: Oakland Fans HATE Us

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Oakland Athletics 2

It was a game with a rain-delayed start, fraught with tension, missed chances, incredible pitching, a Big Papi long bomb to tie things up…and Manny’s Big Ass Being Manny’s Big Ass.* Picture it: bottom of the tenth inning, G-unit starts things off with a double to the right field corner off Juan Cruz and is replaced by pinch-runner Alejandro Machado. The Sox have 6 hits, after first Joe Kennedy, Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer engaged Wakefield in a pitchers’ duel over nine innings, so there’s some worry here: what if Boston doesn’t score this inning? Will Machado’s bat be able to make the offensive difference? As The Nation frets and wonders, Johnny Damon tries to bunt, but settles for a chopper to the right side that moves Machado to third. Oakland manager Ken Macha goes for the five infielder defense against Edgah, pulling Jay Payton and replacing him with Keith Ginter. I’m starting to pray for a fly ball – I can’t survive another inning, not after Oakland got within 90 feet of a run in the top of the tenth.

Five minutes later, the A’s are finally done figuring out strategy and Cruz pitches to Renteria. Cruz gets behind Edgah 3 balls and 1 strike before hitting him off the elbow, a ball that must have left a mark on the shortstop’s elbow armor because home plate umpire Rick Reed only ruled it a HBP after examining Renteria’s arm. Macha has Cruz walk Ortiz, then pulls him in favor Keiichi Yabu. The FSN Bay Area guys, who are calling this game on, cite Cruz’s lack of control as the deciding factor – apparently Yabu can make the right pitches at the right time. With all of the defensive conferences (Macha elects to stay with 5 infielders for Manny’s at-bat) and pitching changes, this game is starting to resemble the final minutes of a close football game.

Manny comes to the plate. I’m actively muttering things at the screen now – threats, promises, curses, whatever it takes. Manny hits a groundball that almost gives me a heart attack…until I realize it’s foul. After throwing one high and tight, Yabu rears back…and nails Manny on upper thigh, walking in the winning run. Game over, Sox win and Boston preserves the 1.5 game lead, in the most hilarious manner possible. Once again, Oakland fans have a reason to hate us.

Tomorrow evening it’s the battle of the rock star hair: Bronson Arroyo faces Danny Haren in a battle of the ages. Boston rocked Haren in their only meeting this year (6 runs in 3.2 innings) while Arroyo, although he’s given up 5 runs in 13.2 innings, holds the A’s to a .180 BAA. GO SOX!!!

* - With apologies to Chris Ward.