Good news: In his first major league game since last June 25, Wade Miller (five innings, three hits, one walk, two runs, 92 pitches) pitched very well.
At SoSH, Rough Carrigan: "Miller just K'd Adrian Beltre [to end the first inning] with a 92 mph fastball on the black after freezing him with the nice big and still hard breaking 77 mph curve. ... Wow. Miller strikes out Ibanez [second out in the second inning] with a 77 mph hook for strike 2 and then a 2 seam 88 mph fastball running away from the lefty for strike 3."
The game wasn't on EI, but all the NESN-watchers were flipping out at Miller's curve. OilCanShotTupac: "The descriptions of these Miller curveballs are almost pornographic. Wish I could see them." ... We should get the chance to see Miller open the series in Seattle on Friday night.
David Ortiz hit two doubles and one home run, and collected three RBI; his one out was a very deep fly ball to right. Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon each had two hits.
Bad News: Terry Francona's brain short-circuited in the seventh inning. With the game tied 2-2, John Halama had a runner at second base, two outs and Randy Winn coming up. Francona decided to pull Halama -- who had last pitched in his start on Tuesday and presumably could have been thrown more than 25 pitches -- and bring in Cla Meredith for his major league debut (first name pronounced "Clay").
Meredith walked Winn. He also walked Adrian Beltre, loading the bases. I fully expected Francona to pull Meredith at this point. He did not. Richie Sexson belted a grand slam (though it was wind-blown down the right field line by the pole). Seattle led 6-2. Francona then left Meredith out on the hill to give up a double to Raul Ibanez before retiring Bret Boone on a fly to center. Boston rallied in the bottom half of the inning, scoring twice, but it wasn't good enough.
I suppose a person could rationalize bringing Meredith in to face Winn. There were two outs -- all he needed to do was get one more. I don't agree with the move and would argue there were at least four or five better choices in the bullpen, but it's somewhat defensible. After the two walks (eight balls in 11 pitches), however, there was no excuse for leaving him in. It isn't March anymore. These games count.
So did Francona not want Winn to face the lefty Halama (or Embree, who was also warming up)? I guess not, though Winn's stats so far this year would indicate keeping a lefty in was the better move. And Embree ended up facing Winn anyway, an inning later, in the exact same situation -- man on second, two outs (though the score was no longer tied). Embree got Winn to fly to shallow right, then set down Beltre, Sexson and Ibanez in the ninth, putting an exclamation point on Francona's error.
In Review: Tito used Myers, Mantei, Timlin and Foulke to preserve a three-run lead in Game 1, but in a tie game with the go-ahead runner at second in Game 2, he decided to use a 21-year-old rookie, on the roster in Blaine Neal's spot (he was DFA'd), in his first big league appearance. ... SoSHer 5belongstogeorge says 7:14 pm was "the instant Tito's World Championship Exemption For Stupid @#%$ ran out."
Seattle heads to New York and the A's, who just played a series with the Yankees, come to Fenway.