For a few minutes there, in the seventh inning, I thought they might actually do it. Baltimore led 7-0 -- mostly on the strength of three home runs off Tim Wakefield -- but shortly after 9:00, Boston rallied against Sidney Ponson (2-9, 6.70 in 16 career starts against the Sox).
Kevin Millar reached on a Miguel Tejada throwing error, Bill Mueller walked on four pitches, and Mark Bellhorn singled to right. With the bases loaded, Johnny Damon lined out to left, a sacrifice fly which BJ Surhoff made a damn nice catch on, leaping on the track to snare it before banging into the wall.
After Edgar Renteria flew to right for the second out (his hitting woes have returned now that he's back at Fenway (2-for-13)), David Ortiz walked to reload the bases. Manny Ramirez brought in two runs (and chased Ponson) with a single to center. The Red Sox now trailed 7-3. Steve Kline walked pinch-hitter Jay Payton on seven pitches, which loaded the bases again. It also brought the tying run to the plate.
Todd Williams (.169 OBA) came out of the Baltimore pen to face Kelly Shoppach, who had replaced Jason Varitek in the top half of the inning. NESN assumed that Terry Francona did it to give Varitek some rest before today's afternoon game, but that move cost the Sox a better bat in this situation.
Still, with the Fenway crowd standing and roaring, I could see Shoppach driving a pitch over the Wall, tying the game and becoming the star of the game. It wasn't such a ridiculous notion. (Even a double could score three, with Payton at first.)
Williams got ahead 1-2, then threw ball two way inside and just missed the outside corner to run the count full. Sadly, Shoppach then topped a routine grounder to second and the inning was over. John Olerud was on-deck to hit for Millar if Shoppach had kept the inning going, but as it turned out, El Bencho stayed in the game.
Bronson Arroyo, who threw only 63 pitches on Monday, pitched in relief of Wakefield, retiring all four batters he faced. ... The day off Tuesday seemed to enliven Ramirez. He showed good range on two fly balls, a pop-up in shallow left and a basket catch in left center. He was his frisky, six-shooter-pointing self after his fourth inning single. ... Since it was Widescreen Wednesday for NESN, shouldn't Wells have faced Ponson?
Before the game, Mike Timlin taped up the "crime scene" where Damon banged into the wall. Johnny then recreated the play by running into the wall in slow motion. Is every Sox blog running this picture today?
P.S. The Yankees (aka The Dead Bat Society), with The Big Disgrace on the mound, lost to Kansas City again, this time 3-1.
Clement / Penn at 2:00.