Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Game 157: Christmas Came Early

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, Oakland Athletics 3

With the exception of one hiccup in the first, where Schilling left a ball out over the plate that Daric Barton (who?) neatly deposited in the right field seats, this game could not have gone any better. On the surface, of course, we have the win, the additional step towards AL East victory bolstered (until a few moments ago, when their bullpen blew the lead) by Tampa Bay's lead over the Yankees. But tonight's near-perfect contest extends much further than a simple +1 in the win column; it's a compilation of all the pleasant little surprises that popped up tonight like mushrooms after a rain shower or gifts under a Christmas tree. A bit like this list, actually:

  1. We had Manny and Youkilis, both back in the lineup after interminable waits. Not at the same time, and not for the whole game, but at least they're both back in the field and returning to 100% capacity. Youkilis didn't have anything offensively tonight, but Manny batted second (just to switch things up), and went 1 for 2 with a walk and scored Boston's first run on a patented Mike Lowell double. I'm pretty sure David Ortiz was so happy he hit one and a half home runs to celebrate.
  2. J.D. Drew had a near-perfect night. No, I'm serious: he went 3 for 4 with a walk, a run and an RBI. He only left two men on base! Dating back to his hitting streak at the beginning of the month, Drew is now batting .383 (18 for 47) with 11 walks since September 7. If he gets hot in time for the playoffs I will take back every bad thing I ever said about him.
  3. Curt Schilling, loved by Satan. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number: its number is six (innings), six (hits), six (strikeouts). Somehow I doubt Jesus would approve, but it was more than enough to keep Boston in the game and put Curt in line for his ninth win.
  4. Eric Gagne didn't blow the game! Oh, he tried, and did so even before the Sox pulled out their eighth inning magic to score a few insurance runs. As usual: two quick outs, then no love from either batters or umpires. He might have gotten squeezed on a strike three, but by then it didn't matter, and to stave off a potential riot Tito went to Papelbon for a one pitch out. Needless to say, I was very proud. I feel like we've all grown a little bit over the past few weeks, and learned to see our weaknesses for what they are. Or at least not let one pitcher spoil a good night.