Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Evening In

As I still dwell in the outer darkness of television with no cable, my only chance to actually see the local nine regular like is UPN 38's Friday night broadcasts. I'll use this as an inducement to report in on a weekly basis. Deal? Deal.

While I'm waiting for the game to start, a couple of dribs and drabs from this week.

After the over-reaction to the events of Wednesday afternoon, most people seem to have come to their senses and concluded that reports of Mariano Rivera's demise are so far exaggerated. I'm a little surprised that we're not talking more about Judo Chop!'s game-breaking error. Rivera has a track record of handling the hot lights of the rivalry to fall back on. Judo Chop!? Let's see...getting thrown out pointlessly trying to steal third early last season, instigating a bench-clearing brawl in July, the play from Game 6 that made his name in this space, and now this. Tune in next week when Judo falls for the hidden ball trick. I wonder if the phone's been ringing at Casa de Brosius.

Nate Silver over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) ran some numbers to determine who got the most bang for the free agent buck this off-season while handing out long-term contracts. Surprisingly, Edgar Renteria rates as one of the five best signings of the year. Keep this in mind as he gets his Sox legs under him.

If Johnny Damon keeps this up, some day soon he's gonna look in the mirror and find Ben Affleck staring back. You're plenty visible at the top of the order every night, JD. We won't forget about you if you turn down that appearance on The Apprentice.

Yeah, I heard Pedro's noise about not wanting his ring. It gets harder and harder to believe he was one of the most engaging and quotable sports personalities in town his first three years here. Going to have a monster year with the Mets, though.

Okay, game time!

Top of the first: The Red Sox draw first blood on a Kevin Millar sacrifice fly after loading the bases on a single and a pair of walks. Characteristic patience from our guys; Toronto's David Bush throws (by my unofficial count) twenty-five pitches in the first.

Top of the second: Yikes, and away! 'Tek crushes one loud, long, and lost off a window in right field. I don't know what the tale of the tape on that one will be, but man was it starched.

Bottom of the second: The Paper Airplane loses a little focus after retiring the first five batters, letting in a two-out run on a double and single. The Blue Jays lineup is chock full of lefties tonight, so even if he isn't facing big names, this will be a good test for him. He's given up the corn rows in favor of, well, hard to say. A straight and strangely oval plate of blond hair is hanging out the back of his cap; it looks more than a little like a roadkilled tribble.

Bottom of the third: The Blue Jays match Trot Nixon's leadoff homer in the top of the frame with a leadoff blast from nine-hole hitter Russ Adams. Inconsistent night for Arroyo so far: great movement on the pitches, but he's having difficulty locating. Two batters later, he stops to pick up--this is too good to be true--a paper airplane! My minions are everywhere in our neighbor to the north. Arroyo promptly finishes off the side.

Bottom of the fifth: Still 3-2 Red Sox. With two out, Arroyo breaks a string of eight consecutive batters retired by walking the number nine hitter. It's not the kind of mistake you want to see a guy make in a one-run game. But he gets around it, retiring the next batter, and it feels like we've dodged a teensy bullet.

Top of the sixth: Bases loaded, one out, and 'Tek is at the plate. He has the most at-bats with the bases loaded of any active player who has never hit a grand slam. (Forget the exact number; it's over a hundred, and he trrails only Blanche DuBois, who's at 130-something.) He doesn't make it happen this time either, although a fielder's choice provides an insurance run. Still, they had the bases loaded and nobody out, and only pushed one guy across. This is the kind of missed opportunity you often regret later, although they just might get away with it tonight.

Top of the seventh: Blue Jays pitcher Brandon League induces what should be a double play ball from Nixon, a crisp roller right back to the mound. League turns and throws the ball directly into right field. He missed his guy by fifteen feet, and that's not even an exaggeration. The Sox make the Jays pay to the tune of two more runs.

Bottom of the seventh: Renteria spares Alan Embree some wear and tear by spearing a hot liner ankle high to end the inning. The last Red Sox Gold Glove winner? Tony Pena in 1991. Whatever else he brings this year, maybe Renetria will end the drought.

Bottom of the ninth: Man, oh man. Keith Foulke just gave us the ol' Mitch Williams memorial save. Entering the game with a three-run lead, he gives up three straight singles to make it 6-4 Sox. A ground out, a healthy drive to right, a walk, a hit batter (on an 0-2 pitch no less), and another ground out later, the Sox have an unexpectedly narrow 6-5 win. The hits don't worry me so much--they were all rollers with eyes--but that extra bit of wildness at the end was hairline-retracting. Still, it ended up in the right column tonight, so what the heck, we'll take it.

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