Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Swings: Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

The Red Sox continued their homestand with the relief that the Orioles have provided recently.

1. The Hub of the Universe.. With the NFL Draft, the Celtics and Bruins in playoff tilts, and the Sox at Fenway, fans had to fight off "clicker finger". Suddenly everyone's a Bruins fan and once again people can name half a dozen B's, even if they can't spell the names. The Patriots added some big, tough athletes, and Paul Pierce drained a jumper at the buzzer to send Miami home on the short end. But the Sox pushed across a run in the eight courtesy of Orioles' wildness and Jonathan Papelbon had a shaky save leaving a pair of runners aboard.

2. What you didn't see. Sometimes a baseball game has an obvious highlight play, odd occurrence (e.g. a balk), or controversial umpiring call. But tonight the Sox went through a complete game without having a strikeout inflicted by the Birds. About the only other 'abnormal' sight was the Orioles' alternate cap, the 0's logo, instead of the anatomically correct Oriole.

3. Been there, done that. The Orioles' former park, Memorial Stadium holds a couple of special memories for me. I took my son, Conor, to his first baseball game there, which was pretty much a disaster against the Bo Jackson led Royals, with a lengthy rain delay and a return home with a youngster at 2 AM. Second, on the day of a classmate's bar mitzvah, Tom Phoebus no-hit the Sox, 6-0, on April 27, 1968. Tragically, my friend died on a Tahitian vacation. The Orioles were once the model of excellence, with a balanced club with superior pitching and the Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger defense, and the power of Frank Robinson and Boog Powell. The Sox of the past decade bore some resemblance to the Oriole excellence.

4. Hall Aflame. Bill Hall made the game saving play in the ninth with one out, as Nick Markakis scorched one off the scoreboard. Hall field the carom perfectly with the bare hand, and rifled a one-hop strike to Pedroia who easily tagged out the Oriole right-fielder. It would have been an excellent play in the first inning, but the situation dictated a play, and Hall came up big.

5. O-R-T-I-Z. David Ortiz is a proud man who has enjoyed a wonderful Sox career. Questions have arisen as to whether the Sox' DH is done. But for one night, Ortiz heard the cheers and delivered a solo shot, his first homer of the season. Ortiz's shot launched the Sox scoring with a Monster Seat shot. Ortiz also had a key walk against a lefty in the eighth, prior to Beltre's game winning walk. One swallow doesn't make a summer, but seeing Ortiz drive one to the opposite field helps keep hope alive that he has not become mighty Casey at the bat.

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