August 12, 2004

Is This It? I've lost count of exactly how many times I've asked myself that question after a Red Sox win -- or two or three wins -- this season, but I really feel like this might be the time.

They are pitching: Pedro Martinez's complete game shutout this afternoon, Derek Lowe's nice outing Wednesday that was cut short because of a recurring blister, and more solid performances from Bronson Arroyo. They are fielding: Doug Mientkiewicz made several outstanding plays Wednesday and I starred 3 plays in the first two innings today (two plays by David McCarty at first and excellent range from 2B Bill Mueller); in fact, everyone has looked crisp. And they are hitting and scoring: after Jorge Sosa retired the first 12 Sox on Tuesday, a quick burst of 8 runs in two innings led to an 8-4 win, a 3 5 5 beginning last night that buried Tampa early and a 6-0 win today in which every starter got a hit (Mueller and David Ortiz had three and Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez two).

Call him Cabin Mirror, Kentucky Fried Kevin or Buckethead, but Millar is white-hot with the bat. Since July 20, when he opened his stance in imitation of Seattle's Miguel Olivo, he has hit .457 (32-for-70), raising his average from .269 to .305. After 25 RBI in his first 85 games, he has totalled 22 in his last 20 games. He went 4-4 last night, as the first seven batters in the order all came to the plate in each of the first three innings. Fun fact: Orlando Cabrera made the last out in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd innings.

Will it continue? Ortizzle: "Maybe - I hope. It's time to do something. We've been up and down too much. It's time to come up with some (expletive)." ... Indeed. I want to see lots of "(expletive)". ... Next up, the Chicago White Sox and starting Friday night? Why it's our old friend Jose Contreras (15.1 innings against Boston in 2003-04, 28 hits, 28 runs, 14 walks, 16.43 ERA)!

Other stuff: Scott Williamson's right forearm remains so swollen, he will not throw for another two weeks. His return to the bullpen remains uncertain and Francona says there is a "decent chance" he'll pitch in September. Doesn't sound promising. ... Mike Myers's entering-the-game music is the theme from "Halloween" (the movie's masked killer is named Michael Myers). ... Updates on Trot Nixon and Byung-Hyun Kim, who allowed one run on five hits over five innings for Pawtucket last Saturday, walking none and striking out four. ... Good piece on Ramiro Mendoza: "I feel a lot of confidence, in control of my pitching. Last year, it was always pain, pain. It would never go away. Now, it feels good. ... I'm happy now."

Bronson Arroyo's T-shirt: Damon's face with the words: "What curse? We have Jesus on our side."

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