Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Game 48: He's a Master, Son.

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, Kansas City Royals 1

Oh my puns, they are so clever. But seriously though, with the exception of one very iffy situation by Okajima, mastery was all over the pitching tonight. Masterson himself overcame the onus of having a hard act to follow, succeeding in (mostly) shutting down Kansas City in style, his funky three-quarterish arm angle delivery striking out five Royals while allowing three hits over six and a third innings. Control was a bit of a problem - witness the three wals, including the one that finally did him in - but Masterson is a ground ball pitcher, and through the ninety-one pitches he threw tonight, he got a lot of ground ball outs.

Masterson's cast of thousands relief crew did they jobs with reasonable adroitness, and Okajima's mini-meltdown in the eighth had one positive impact: Papelpon not only got to come in and do his thing to kill off the Royals' rally in the eighth, but do a full-on Cinco-Ocho freakout afterwards, looking like he was going to start breathing fire through the nostrils. Happy is the baseball fan with a lovable psychotic for a closer.

That wraps up two pretty special days of young pitchers making big splashes, but before I sign off for the evening, a word on Jason Varitek. As mentioned elsewhere, Varitek now owns the record for most no-hitters caught; a record underscored by Tek's success in coaching young pitchers to improve their games. Varitek has a direct hand in Josh Beckett's improvement last year, he called no-hitters for Buchholz and Lester, less than a year apart. Tonight he helped a young sinkerballer dominate the Royals. Are these the types of things we look for when we think Hall of Fame catcher? Is it still too early to tell, even after 11 years? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.