May 31, 2004

Fifty Games In. Although Trot Nixon and Nomar Garciaparra have yet to play a single inning and the team has been without Bill Mueller, Ellis Burks, Scott Williamson and Byung-Hyun Kim for various lengths of time, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball at 31-19 (a 100.44-win pace). I looked over my scorecards and picked out some of the best games:

May 30 (#50): Schilling, Embree and Foulke implode in the 8th inning and Seattle scores six times, taking a 7-5 lead. But Boston comes right back, tying the game in the bottom of the inning. Varitek singles, McCarty doubles, Damon hits a sac fly and Andy Dominique's first major league hit ties the game. McCarty then sends everyone home happy with a 2-run home run to center (on a 3-0 pitch; Boston hitters are now 8-for-8 after getting the green light) in the bottom of the 12th. Schilling had retired the first 17 Mariners, but by the end, it was a distant memory. Sox win 9-7.

May 7 (#29): Kansas City leads 6-2 going into the bottom of the 8th. After singles from Ramirez and Kapler, Mirabelli's hit and a throwing error close the gap to 6-4. In the 9th, Damon walks and Bellhorn belts a game-tying home run. Ramirez walks and with 2 outs, pinch-hitter Varitek lines a first-pitch double into the right field corner to win the game, 7-6.

April 11 (#7): Trailing Baltimore 4-1, Boston scores single runs in the 8th (Damon walks and scores on Millar's single) and 9th (Crespo doubles and scores on Damon's hit) before Ortiz belts a 2-run home run into the Monster seats in the 12th. Red Sox win 6-4.

April 16 (#9): Facing the Yankees for the first time since the ALCS, Boston nails Vazquez for 4 runs in the first inning. Damon reaches on an error, Mueller homers, Ramirez homers, Millar singles; Burks reaches on a force, takes second on a walk and scores on Jeter's error. Wakefield throws 7 strong innings and the Red Sox win 6-2.

April 24 (#17): Both the Yankees and Red Sox have numerous scoring chances in the Bronx before Boston finally comes out on top 3-2 in 12 innings. Ramirez begins the inning with a double, goes to third on a groundout, and after Millar is hit with a pitch, Manny scores on Bellhorn's sac fly. Timlin then retires the Yankees in order, capping 6 no-hit innings from the bullpen. (Boston has won 6 of its 7 games (so far) against New York.)

May 8 (#30): With me and roughly 250 other Sons of Sam Horn sitting in the right field stands, Schilling pitches a complete game (5 H, 0 BB, 8 K) against the Royals, winning 9-1. Pokey Reese hits 2 home runs (one an inside-the-parker to right). After the game, I get my scorecard autographed by Sam Horn himself.

May 11 (#33): In the home half of the 8th, trailing Cleveland 3-2, Ramirez and Varitek quickly make outs. But then Ortiz doubles off the wall. Mueller follows with another double to left to tie the game, Kapler singles and McCarty, fresh off the bench, lines a 2-run triple into the right field corner. Foulke sets Cleveland down in the 9th (with 2 K) and Boston wins 5-3.

April 29 (#21): After Lowe allows 2 runs in the top of the first (snapping the team's 32-inning scoreless streak), Boston explodes for 7 in the bottom half. The first 6 (and 8 of the first 9) batters reach safely. The inning is highlighted by Varitek's 3-run home run and Reese's two-run single. Boston finishes a doubleheader sweep 7-3.

April 25, 28 and 29 (#18-20): Three straight shutouts: 2-0 over New York (Pedro 7 IP, 4 H, 7 K), 6-0 over Tampa Bay (Schilling 7.1 IP, 5 H, 8 K) and 4-0 over Tampa Bay (Kim, 5 IP, 1 H).

May 15 (#37): Bronson Arroyo (overcoming the flu) throws 100 pitches in Toronto (8 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K). Youkilis makes his major league debut and homers in his second AB. Bellhorn and Ortiz also go deep and Boston wins 4-0.

[As far as worst games, there was April 8 (#4) when Bobby Jones walked four Orioles in the 13th inning, giving Baltimore a 3-2 win; May 13 (#35) when Toronto's 1-2-3 hitters (Hudson, Catalanotto, Wells) reached base in 14 of their 15 plate appearances, leading the Jays to a 12-6 win; and May 27 (#47) when Oakland routed the Sox at Fenway 15-2.]

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