Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sox gain sweep; Manny's streak ends at 27

It wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty, and in the end Manny settled for the sixth-logest hitting streak in Sox history. But a win is a win, and a sweep is a sweep, and the Beantowners took a broom to the Birds,11-9, which coupled with the Stanks loss to the LA of A Angels leaves them only 1 game out of the division lead. And Papi had the day off!
Right from the first inning we saw a sign of what was to come in this 5-hr marathon slugfest. B'More touched up young starter Jon Lester for 2 in the top of the frame, but Boston bounced right back, loading the bases against erratic young righty Daniel Cabrera, and them emptying them, courtesy of a Monster slam from Mr. Clutch (sorry, Papi), Mike Lowell. But the Birds got 3 back in the 2nd, 2 of them coming on a HR by Corey Patterson, who could build a defense on why the Cubs gave up on him based on his play in this series (4-12, 3R, 3 RBI, 2 HRs). So the game was tied, 4-4, and things would stay that way until the bottom of the 4th.
In the 4th the Sox scored some unconventional Sox runs, on 2 singles, a bunt single, 2 walks and a wild pitch (Bosox going National League, nice!). A little breathing room and time to relax, right? Not during these dog days, where nothing is coming easy lately for the boys. Kyle Snyder entered in the 6th and promptly gave up solo shots to Kevin "Wish I Was Still Here" Millar and
Sox killer Brian Roberts, and the lead had shrunk to 7-6. And they were already into the pen. Gulp.
But the Sox were determined to silence these pesky birds and gain the important sweep, and when Youk popped a 3-run jack (after not being awarded first on an apparent HBP) to push the lead to 10-6, I figured "time to relax, go do some yardwork and come back in just in time to see Paplebon mow 'em down in the 9th". Right?
Something happened along the road to easy victory, as the teams traded single runs in the 8th (yet another homer from 'Belli, who is FINALLY paying off that police escort tab) and then Craig Hansen found his way into trouble in the 9th. I mean you knew Paps was going to be coming into this bloodbath, he knew he was coming in, and unfortunately it looked like the Birds were prepared for him to come in. Entering with 2 on and 1 out, he immediately walked Patter-son (there he is again). Hmmm. No Problemo. Up next is our old friend Millah, who hits a routine grounder to short that should have been a game-ending DP. But Cora booted it, everyone is safe, a run scores, and across the Nation, everyone simultaniously shifts uncomfortably in their seats. Breathe. When pinch hitter Brandom Fahey struck out, it was ALMOST time to relax. But wait, the mini-slump (can we call it that NOW?!) of the beloved kid closer continues as he walks Sox Killer (his official name now) Roberts to force in a run. 11-9, 2 outs, and not a calm meber of RSN to be found anywhere: "...If they blow this game....!!!
When Melvin Mora grounded a sharp ball to third, it looked as though it would skip into left and score the tying runs for sure. But the man who started the game off right for the Sox ended it in spectacular fashion, as Lowell snared the wicked shot and threw to first in time to end the contest, finally; the amount of air released from the collective "whew"' of everyone in the Nation could've raised the Hindenburg!
Like I said, a win is a win. Manny didn't extend the streak (he was absolutely robbed by Tejada on a hard liner in the 6th), and the struggles of the closer continue (although he did pick up save #31). Now the Tigers come to town. You know, baseball's best team (76-41). After that is the five-game showdown with the Stanks.
Gonna be some wild times in the Old Ballyard the next couple of weeks. Better breathe now.

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