Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Game 73: The God Of Clutch Strikes Again

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Philadelphia Phillies 7

“That strategy makes absolutely no sense to me at all.”
- Jerry Remy on pitching to David Ortiz in clutch situations

Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you plainly: no matter how the bullpen struggles, no matter how much the balance of the game seems to swing out of control, no matter how game the opposition into giving the Sox a fight to the finish, if you bring up David Ortiz in a tight situation with a chance to win and put a bat in his hands, nine times out of ten he’s going to use that bat to get the job done. Ortiz is so reliable in his production in high-pressure situations that a positive result is simultaneously awe-inspiring and expected; Red Sox fans watch him bat, waiting for that hit to make things right and are rarely disappointed.

Nine straight wins. Three sweeps in a row, the most since Morgan Magic in 1988. Boston’s done pretty well since running headlong from the pillow dome, although the Phillies were pretty game about trying to end the fun yesterday. Wake and Lidle dueled each other scoreless for five plus innings, until the Sox jumped out with the lead on a walk by Ortiz, a single by Manny, an RBI single from Lowell and an RBI, ground rule double by Coco Crisp to knock Lidle out of the game. By the time the Phillies put out the fire, the scoreboard showed six to nothing in favor of Boston. Wake’s streak of perfection ended in the seventh, when a single, a hit batsmen and a walk loaded the bases and ended the starter’s day. Unfortunately for Wakefield, Rudy Seanez decided that the game wasn’t close enough and let four runs cross the plate – all without getting a single out, of course. My dislike of the man and his inconsistent pitching, even with a bigf lead, knows no bounds. Javiar Lopez allowed Jimmy Rollins (who had a pretty clutch day himself) to score after his bases clearing triple, making the score six to five, Boston, before he and Timlin got Boston out of the inning.

In the ninth, Papelbon got Chase Utley, the first batter he faced, to two strikes before leaving a fastball up and in – Utley turned on it and drove it off the foul pole, tying on the game. The hit was the first homerun the closer has given up all year and his second blown save, but as in the past, Paps buckled down and went through the next inning and a third without incident. Neither Philly nor Boston scored in the tenth or eleventh, with Boston flubbing an aggravating bases-loaded, one out chance in the bottom of the eleventh with two ground balls to Rollins. In the top of the twelfth, a single by Shane Victorino off of Manny Delcarmen turned into a run after small ball outs moved Victorino to third and a double by Rollins off of Hansen, Delcarmen’s replacement, sent Victorino home, making the score seven to six Philadelphia and setting the stage for the bottom of the inning and Papi’s latest triumph.

Ortiz had some help, of course: a ground rule double down the left field line by Crisp set the table for an RBI single by Youk, who moved to second when the throw missed the cutoff man. Loretta drew a walk, bringing up Ortiz. Apparently deciding that he got lucky after walking Ortiz and pitching to Manny in the eleventh, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel opted to pitch to Papi instead, practically insuring the loss for his team. Hey, I’m happy with it and I’m sure all of you are, too.

So, now that we’ve blown through the whole bullpen – seven relief pitchers in one game – it’s time to face the high-riding Mets for the first time in 20 years. John Lester goes up against Alay Soler tonight at 7:05 to kick things off. GO SOX!!!