Monday, May 08, 2006

Game 31: P0wnag3

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 10, Baltimore Orioles 3

Remember, back in late 2001 and early 2002, when the Devil Rays really were completely hopeless when faced with what Boston then had to offer for pitching and hitting might? It might be better to apply the hopeless moniker to the Orioles now; with yesterday’s win, Boston made it eleven straight wins against Baltimore.

As wins go, it wasn’t a bad way to complete a sweep, either. Sure, DiNardo might have given up a run in the first by walking four straight batters with two outs, but he settled down nicely afterwards, giving up two runs on two hits over five innings and riding on the lead the offense established for him in the bottom of the first after Benson loaded the bases and handed Varitek a high fastball that the Captain kindly deposited into the bullpen. Baltimore managed to cut the lead down to two with another run in the third, but could manage no more; DiNardo’s cutter stayed down, struck out five and kept the potentially deadly Orioles offense in check. He’s still not quite in starter form yet, but I’m starting to feel ok putting some confidence in DiNardo as the number five pitcher, at least until the trade deadline. Certainly, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the first with a strikeout and then turning around the flow of the game to garner your first win speaks a lot about DiNardo’s potential.

Meanwhile, the Sox were doing their best to knock around Kris Benson and making the job look easy. After Benson loaded the bases again in the fifth, feeding Manny an outside fastball that allowed Ramirez to extend his arms and smash a single with a butter-smooth swing, he surrendered a two-run double to Trot. Having seen enough of the Varitek/Benson match up for one day, the Orioles opted to walk Varitek and pitch to Mike Lowell, who was hitless so far on the day. Except it’s Mike Lowell and he now leads the league in doubles. Can you guess what he did next? What everyone in Fenway, except perhaps Kris Benson and the Orioles coaches, knew that he was going to do? Did you guess two run double, double number seventeen on the year? Eight to nothing Boston and Benson done for the day. Booyah for the Man who hits Doubles.

Lowell attributes his success hitting doubles (most of which have come at Fenway) to the Monster, a landmark most hitters try to crush balls over. Instead, says Lowell, for him the intention is the exact opposite – he waits a little longer on the pitches because he knows the wall is so close and ends up smacking balls down the line with a little more concentration and a little less power. It’s almost as if Lowell is the recompense for years of right-handed Red Sox hitters who, without Manny’s ability or power, wasted their time trying to hit things over the Monster rather than focusing on the doubles zone a mere 310 feet away.

Day off today, down to New York tomorrow night for the start of a three game set against the Yankees; Beckett versus Johnson to lead off. GO SOX!!!