April 9, 2004

Orioles 3, Red Sox 2 (13). Ugh. Not fun ... but after reading the papers and comments in the game thread, I'm not sure what could have been done differently. Jones got squeezed in the 13th, but couldn't be expected to get any close calls because he simply wasn't throwing strikes. Mendoza was the last reliever in the pen and there was some doubt about whether he was available or not. So Jones ended up being Brenley-ized, working a second inning for the second straight night. His last pitch of the game was his 78th in two days.

There will always be plenty of second-guessing in a 13-inning game. In the 7th, with the game tied 2-2, Francona had Cesar Crespo bat for Doug Mirabelli. Baltimore's starter LHP Matt Riley had begun the inning by walking McCarty and Bellhorn and was up to 98 pitches. Crespo was bunting, something Mirabelli could have done. And if Francona felt he needed to pull Mirabelli, he could have batted Varitek. Crespo failed to get the bunt down and struck out. Varitek batted for the next scheduled hitter -- Pokey Reese -- thus removing Boston's best infielder. Riley walked Varitek to load the bases. BJ Ryan came out of the pen and retired Damon and Mueller on soft line drives. ... Did Francona panic too early? Hard to say, but I think so. However, in his defense, Boston was not hitting. The Sox did not record their fourth hit of the game until the 11th inning.

In the 11th, Ramirez walked with one out. Millar singled to left center and Manny hustled to third. Francona then pulled him for pinch-runner Kapler. Buddy Groom entered the game. Ortiz lined out to second and after Bellhorn walked to load the bases, Crespo struck out. Francona: "I was just trying to win the game. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. ... I figured Kapler would have a better chance to score on a short sac-fly." ... If Ramirez was quick enough to take 3rd on a ball to left center, he was probably quick enough to tag and score.

The other problem was Bobby Jones, Boston's 6th pitcher of the night. He allowed a lead-off single to Bigbie in the 12th, and after Roberts bunted Bigbie to second and Mora flied to center, Jones intentionally walked Tejada and retired Palmeiro on a grounder to second. ... In the 13th, Jones walked Lopez and after Bautista struck out, he walked Segui, Matos and Bigbie. ... Jones: "I wanted to throw him mostly sliders because that's the pitch that I can get lefties to roll over and get ground balls." However, after all those close pitches and walks, though, there is something to be said about simply throwing a strike and making the batter hit the ball.

Francona said it was Jones or bust. "He was our last pitcher tonight." Jones was surpised to hear that: "I wasn't the last guy." The only reliever left in the bullpen was Ramiro Mendoza, but Francona said Mendoza "made it clear to the medical staff that if we could stay away from him, we needed to." Apparently Mendoza was stiff after pitching Wednesday night. But other accounts say Mendoza wasn't stiff and would have pitched if he had been asked.

Two good things: Wakefield pitching out of man-on-2nd/none-out jams in both the first and second innings (neither runner even advanced to third); and Damon making a perfect throw home in the bottom of the 10th to complete an 8-2 double play to save the game. ... Art Martone on Opening Day at Fenway. ... The Red Sox were scheduled to leave Baltimore about 11:30 last night, but the game did not end until 11:44. The team arrived at the airport at 1:00 am, but their charter was then delayed for another four hours because of a mechanical problem.

Matchups for the Blue Jays series:
Friday: Bronson Arroyo/Ted Lilly
Saturday: Pedro Martinez/Roy Halladay
Sunday: Curt Schilling/Miguel Batista

First pitch: 3:05 pm.

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