Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Game 156: The Stopper Strikes Again

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Toronto Blue Jays 1

There’s nothing like a quality pitching performance, especially on a day when it’s so desperately needed. Stepping in and getting the job done quickly and easily, Tim Wakefield picked up win number 16 of the year with a 7 innings, 3 hit 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strike out effort, spinning knuckleball mastery once again. Given his performance this season, especially in his four starts this month, the title Mr. September seems very appropriate.

On the offensive side of things, the Boys in White and Red got enough done to establish a lead (2 runs in the first off of Dave Bush, who’s given up a first inning run in 17 of 23 starts this year) but kept the explosions to a minimum, speeding up the game. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the intention – besides the first inning, Bush pitched a good game and the Sox didn’t really crack the Jays’ bullpen. In any case, Boston did enough to win and for that we’re all happy.

In a bit of Bill James-style managing, Francona opted to have Mike Timlin pick up save number 12 by bringing him out to pitch the ninth, operating off the maxim of using your best reliever when he’s needed most – although the rough spot that Jonathan Papelbon hit and the 25 pitches he threw in the eighth might have helped the decision, too. The move does put a bit more pressure on the Sox to perform well tonight, though, as presumably Francona won’t want to use Timlin again unless he really has to.

Schilling versus Gustavo Chacin tonight at 7:00. Chacin beat the Sox back in May, but has only 1 win in 10 appearances since August 5 with a WHIP of 1.35 and an ERA of 4.36 over 64 innings, so there’s a possibility of getting to him early. Meanwhile, Baltimore has lost 9 straight and is due for a win, so maybe Boston can gain some ground tonight and the scary, scary three way tie between New York, Boston and Cleveland over the Wild Card (not to mention the tie for the AL East) will break up a bit. GO SOX!!!