Sunday, August 19, 2007

Game 123: An Epic Tale

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 10, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 5

"Gather 'round, young and old, so that I might tell you a tale of witches and wizards, dragons and giants, captains and kings glorious and full of splendor; a story to excite your emotions and sate your taste for adventure."

So might be said of last night's contest, a victory that transcended the realm of mere sport, moving into a higher plane of contest, featuring dark beginnings (the loss the day before; the Yankees victory earlier in the day), a brave but doomed warrior (Schilling), compounding troubles sinking to a nadir of forlorn hopes (down five to nothing after four innings, with no expected relief in site) and the reemergence of a hero, long dormant (Papi!), who led the charge to claim victory from the jaws of defeat with fearless style. No wizards, but man, what a game.

After the gut punch the day before, a stumble start from the beginning was probably to be expected. The Angels were riding high on their unexpected treasure, the Sox forced to wonder whether or not any run scoring effort was safe. Enter Schilling, who balances out his above-average record against Los Angeles with his recent inconsistent starts and anything was possible. In the end, Schilling's part in the process was particularly interesting: three innings where he gave up at least one run, matched with three innings where he gave up a grand total of one hit. The three innings weren't all against the same batters, either, so what do these results mean? Is Schilling still adjusting his pitches to further his development from strikeout to ground ball pitcher? Is he going to be consistently successful before the end of the season, when his contract comes into play? I guess we'll have to see.

Thankfully, all of these questions became a little irrelevant after the fifth inning, when Boston finally staged a breakout on the backs of a two-run Lugo single and, of course, the David Ortiz grand slam that built the second Ortiz-led comeback in as many days. Boston added four more
insurance runs in a wild eighth inning wallop of the Angels bullpen, but Ortiz coming up with big hits in the clutch, two days running, after a season of missed chances is a big, big deal. The relative occurrence of those hits might be rare, but their psychological value makes the middle of the lineup that much scarier to face.