Thursday, May 04, 2006
As soon as the game Tuesday night was called, I heaved a cautious sigh of relief. Because, yeah, one game postponed is fine, but the Sox are never going to want to straight-up cancel two in a row if they can help it, and Wednesday's game was going to be my first Fenway outing of the season. A rainout also meant that instead of Halladay/Clement, a matchup I vaguely dreaded (visions of Matt Clement breaking down on the mound and sobbing hysterically dancing in my head... perhaps unfairly, but there nonetheless), we would get to see Halladay/Beckett, a much nicer duel.
The tarp was out on the field when we got there, and it was as misty as Nomar's eyes when he thinks back to his salad days with Boston, but it wasn't actually pouring and it was surprisingly not entirely freezing. I struggled to situate myself, a hotdog, a camera bag, a camera (complete with its own personal umbrella... don't ask. The lady at the concession stand near our seats thought it was the best thing she had ever seen, though), a program with scorecard and a pencil into the wee grandstand seats, reminding myself once again of how Fenway differs in many ways from Comerica. I badly need to find a way to streamline this sheer amount of STUFF before I go to another game. I also badly need a telephoto lens, but baby steps, baby steps.
Iain and Beth popped over to our section to say hi before the game, which was great, because you may not know this, but when bloggers meet it's a bit like Captain Planet. We all huddle up and and put our magic blogger power rings together and shout things like "love of the game!" (Iain), "quality writing!" (Beth), and "sarcastic juvenile humor!" (me). Amazing things happen when we do this, but I can't tell you about them unless you're a blogger, because it's a blogger secret. Let's just say it involves Bill Mueller and pants.
The Beckett/Halladay matchup wasn't necessarily the Battle of the Pitching Giants that it could have been, and, just like in the Yankee game, there were a lot of balls that seemed to die in the air and you got the feeling that the score could've been much messier on a warmer and drier night. Halladay didn't look at all like he did when I saw him last year; instead of dominating, he was grinding, and it showed in the 3-run second inning, where there were a grand total of zero extra-base hits. Just single after single after single, and rather a lot of screaming.
Beckett also suffered from the offense-by-water-torture approach in the second, walking Lyle Overbay, hitting Shea Hillenbrand with a pitch, walking Russ Adams, and then had to face the consequences when Aaron Hill made contact for a two-run double. Still, I hadn't seen him live before, so it was a bit of a treat in a pure pitching aesthetic sense, or something.
Manny looked great, pretty much consistently getting his bat on the ball and not seeming to worry too much about generating power. He singled twice, had a ground-rule double on fan interference (which I didn't see, so I can't say exactly what happened, and walked. The only out he made was on a pretty hard ball caught by Overbay at first. Manny the Scuffler of the start of the season has pretty much disappeared, as everyone in the universe who knows about baseball said would happen.
In fact I bet it went something like this--
Tito: Hey, uh, Manny? Manny, kiddo, you listenin'? Um. You been havin' some trouble makin' contact lately?
Manny: Hi coach look look!
*Manny points to Alex Gonzalez' locker, where he has tied the laces of all his cleats together in one giant lace knot*
Tito: Oh, uh, well, that's great Manny, you don't think Alex is gonna get mad?
Manny: No man, we besssss friends.
Tito: Right. So. About that hittin'.
Manny: Is not OK swing and miss?
Tito: Well, Manny, in a word, uh, no.
Manny: OK! Manny jus hit ball now, don got to go over Monster, jajaja?
Tito: That's really good, Manny, but you can't just say it, it's one thing to just say "I'm gonna hit" and it's another thing entire to go out there and
*Manny suddenly is batting .309 with an OBP of .449*
Alex Gonzalez: Time to run a bases fo'ard march Alex
*Alex Gonzalez has fallen flat on his face in the dirt*
Alex Gonzalez: Oh hell a shoe knot
And then there's Mike Lowell, Mike Lowell the Now Inexplicably Good. He was just so bad last season, and when Florida wouldn't let go of Beckett without also dumping Lowell and his contract off on someone, anyone, it really didn't endear him to me any. Right now he's batting .326/.382/.505, which clearly falls into WTF territory. I mean, he wasn't just bad last year, he was horrible, and it was that kind of slow struggling horrible that makes you think something dire has snapped in a guy and he's never going to regain his previous levels of production.
Last night he had 3 singles, one run, and 2 RBI. And he looked solid doing it, not flukey or anything of that nature. If Lowell manages to return to his pre-2005 form, and Beckett pans out anywhere near as promisingly as he has the potential to... well, we'll have to wait and see if Hanley turns into a giant superstar or not, won't we? But if he doesn't, this could turn into one hell of an attractive deal and we'll all be abasing ourselves at the holy feet of Theo again soon enough. Or Lowell could regress immediately after the All Star break and people will start showing up to the ballpark wearing paper masks with Bill Mueller's face printed on them.
Then there was this play, where Dustan Mohr, pinch hitting for Trotter, somehow managed to tangle himself up on his swing and end up ass-first in the dirt. It was kind of hard to tell exactly what had happened from the stands, and it just looked like BOOM, down he went. Of course my first instinct was to assume that horrible things had happened and every ligament in his lower body had simultaneously exploded. My dad's slightly more reasoned response was that the ground must be pretty slick, and he probably just lost his footing.
Still, it seems exactly the sort of play where you can, at the very least, twist the ever livin' osteocity out of your ankle. Plus it was mightily undiginified.
Hrm, what else from this game. Papelbon. I'm not concerned. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and yes it kind of sucks, but the game was so hard fought the whole way through that it's hard to be too discouraged. Plus I just watched the game tonight and he came right back out, one night later, and snagged himself an 11th save. The kid's got guts, and he'll be OK. He's one of those things you can really look forward to watching about the Sox this season. I think it's much more likely that he remains on fire than, say, Mike Lowell does.
The rest of the photos from the night are here, and there are at least a few good/interesting ones that I'm not posting up here because I'm evil like that. I do wish I had a better lens, so I apologize for the quality on some of 'em. For instance, that photo of Manny stroking AGon's cheek would be much better if it didn't also have the image quality of a piece of tissue paper steeped in coffee. But it's still a photo of Manny stroking AGon's cheek, and I suppose that's what counts, right?
A couple other quick things.
1) When did Alex Rios stop going by Alexis Rios? Because I still want to call him that, it's my natural instinct, and I have to keep checking myself. I'm pretty sure when I saw the Jays at Fenway last year he was still Alexis.
2) I had no idea Mike Lowell was born in Puerto Rico. Was that just me, dwelling in ignorance?
As an apology for not blogging often enough (soon to be remedied, I assure you), we will tonight close with a photo of the sorest and most beloved part of our captainly catcher.
Labels: baseball, Beth, Iain, in attendance, MLB, photoblog, rain, Red Sox