There I am, lying in bed next to my beautiful wife watching the Red Sox game. Yeah, sounds like paradise, but that is not the point. Top of the ninth, fresh off Joe Crede crushing an outside fastball into the right-centerfield gap off of Curt Schilling, Manny digs in to face Luis Vizcaino who was inexplicably on the mound instead of their closer Dustin Hermanson during a tie game in the top of the ninth.
Kat turns to me and says: Manny is going to hit one out right now.
That would be nice, I respond.
Pitch one: ball inside.
Pitch two: pop-up foul down the third base line. While I try to talk the ball foul, Chicago third baseman Joe Crede overruns the ball and when coming back towards the field of play has the ball hit the center of his glove, rather than the pocket, and it pops out as a harmless foul and E-5. Manny has another life.
Kat turns back to me and says: Definitely now.
Pitch three: Boom. Deep fly to left-centerfield. Manny, Vizcaino, heck everyone knew it as it left his bat. All of a sudden it is six to five Red Stockings over the White Stockings.
It is a pretty funky moment when you have that feeling it is home run time, part of what makes baseball such a treat to follow.
* * *
THE CLOSER IS CLOSER:
Admittedly, Curt Schilling did not have his best stuff out on the mound last night, but he still picked up a win to go with his blown save. In the eighth inning he struggled to get his fastball over 9o MPH. In the ninth inning, he got up to 93 and 94 which helped make his 86 MPH splitter that much more difficult to hit with the increased speed differential. The healthier the heel gets for Schilling, the better he will be at getting his fastball pumped up to the mid-nineties. The sooner he gets consistent in the bullpen, the sooner he can make the move to the starting rotation so he will have time to get stretched out to the seventh and eighth inning in time for October. Yes, I do believe Keith Foulke will be back and will be effective when he returns. Call me crazy, but I really believe the 2004 Keith Foulke will return this season.
* * *
It was difficult not to believe that with the score 4-1 in favor of the Red-Headed Stepchildren of Chicago and all-star starter Mark Buehrle on the mound that the Red Sox did not stand much of a chance to get back into the game. Buehrle has been twirling his usual gems on the mound all season and, after escaping a jam in the second thanks to yet another case of Trot Nixon making a bonehead decision on the basepaths, it seemed Buehrle was ready to settle down and shut down the Red Sox through the seventh or eighth inning.
A brief interlude: Why is it that when Trot Nixon hesitates on the basepaths, then makes an ill-advised dash to the plate and gets thrown out by a good 10-15 feet there is little to no discourse in the papers; however, let the baserunner be Manny Ramirez, and get ready for a firestorm of insults, character bashing, and general disdain on the airwaves and in the press. Is it because Nixon is a dirt dog, a hustler, a cowboy who never leaves the park with a clean uniform and is then excused for on-field blunders, or is it because everyone jumps on Manny because he has the $160 million bulls-eye squarely planted on him?
Anyway, the Red Sox did a great job of chipping away at lead by getting production from the top of the order in the fifth inning against Buehrle and then taking the lead in the seventh inning as the top of the order keyed another rally. It may not have been one of those games that are looked back on as a turning point, but the Red Sox showed some real grit by not backing down against the best lefty in the AL and not letting him dictate the game and preserve his three run lead.
* * *
GOOD FOR TEDY:
Tedy Bruschi has decided to sit out at least the start of the 2005 football season, and I can only say: Yet another good call by the Captain and defensive play caller. There is no need to rush Bruschi back onto the field this season. Let his body heal; let his mind heal; let him get back to full strength physically and mentally and be ready to play next season. The Patriots have an astonishing sixteen linebackers on their training camp roster. Roman Phifer stands ready to return if the need arises. Chad Brown is a legitimate stud middle linebacker who can step in and make an impact on defense. Monty! is a rising star at middle linebacker in the mold of no other than Bruschi. The Patriots are built so that no one player (except, just maybe, Mr. Brady) is indispensable. They have faced injuries to key players in the past. They will face more injuries to key players in the future, but they are still the best until proven otherwise.
* * *
Zzzzzzzzzz. Testicular cancer. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Snogging Sheryl Crow. Snore. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bike racing. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
* * *
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