Saturday, August 12, 2006

Manny extends streak, propels Sox to huge 8-7 victory in 10.

What was shaping up to be a bad loss turned into a miraculous win for the Sox when they erased a 4- run deficit after 6 1/2 innings and scraped out a run in the 10th. Unfortunately, due to Fox'
regional coverage, I guess they calculated that there are more Stankee fans in the Tampa Bay area than Red Sox, so we got the Angels/Stankee game instead of this one. I had to track the game online, and when I saw that score after the Orioles scored 2 in the 6th, I was pretty worried. As I'm sure most everyone in the Nation was.
Soon-to-be released Jason Johnson (0-3, 7.20 ERA in 5 starts for BOS) was up to his old tricks from the start, allowing 2 runs in the 1st on 3 singles and a double, then 3 more in the 4th on 2 singles, a double , a walk & a wild pitch. But thanks to the suddenly red-hot Mirabelli, who hit an RBI single in the 2nd, and solo HRs by WMP (speaking of red-hot) and Coco, the Sox were only down 5-3 at the end of 5.
That's when things got wild. In the top of the 6th a walk, a bunt single by Corey Patterson, and a single by stud rookie Nick Markakis loaded the bases with one out. Exit Johnson, enter "Gasolina" Tavarez and IF I had been watching this game, I would have been covering my eyes.
Tavarez got Chris Widger to fan, but then lit the match and gave up a 2-run single to Brian "Sox Killer" Roberts, and that manageable 2 run deficit suddenly became an unsightly 4 runs. Thanks, Julian, another brilliant relief job. When is Tito going to stop throwing him out there in pressure situations?!
Just as things were looking bleak, the Sox came up with one of those magical Fenway innings, where if you're sitting in the stands and close your eyes, you think you have died and been transported to baseball heaven on a wave of exuberance and emotion. It started out innocently enough, with Papi fanning and then Manny, who hadn't extended his streak at this point, draw-ing a walk. After Youk flied out, it was looking more and more like this would be a lost Saturday at the yard. But then Mike Lowell singled, and that pushed Manny to second. Up steps WMP,

who has 4 HRs & 2 3Bs in the past 10 games, who promptly scorches a ball to the triangle that eluded Patterson, in raced manny & Lowell, and suddenly the deficit was only 2 again, 7-5.
Now comes the Special Fenway Moment. Before the crowd could even get back in their seats, Mirabelli crushes one into the Monster Seats for a game-tying 2-run bomb that erased an afternoon of frustration and might have just rejuvenated this staggering club. Of all people to be carrying this team right now, of course you expect Manny & Pai to be there, but to have Willy Mo and 'Belli step up like this has been just huge. WMP was just a SINGLE AWAY FROM THE CYCLE. This kid is an animal. I repeat what Nation members from Cohassett to Long Beach are saying right now: BRONSON WHO?
Now we're all tied up and it's just a matter of how to finish them off. Cuz you know they're not going to give this one back up. The pen stepped up and held the Birds scoreless for the final 3 frames, including an easy 2k 9th from Paps, which set up the dramatic finish in the 10th.
It started badly for B'More, as Bruce Chen walked Loretta and Papi. With Kappy in to run for Loretta, Man-Ram came to the plate with his 25 game hit streak in jeopardy and the game on his broad shoulders. What does the league's best second banana do? Calmly hit a single to right that skipped by LF Brandon Fahey's glove as Kappy raced home and the Old Ballyard erupted with cheers and sighs of relief mixed in with the "Dirty Water".
So the Sox remained 3 in back of the Stanks, who took care of the Angels, and they are 2 behind the Chiosox for the WC. 5 more days until the Showdown that might decide the race for the division. Bring on the Stanks.

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