October 19, 2004

Get Me Rewrite! As the clock struck midnight on Sunday night, down three games to none to the New York Yankees and trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 4, the bottom three batters of the Red Sox lineup faced Mariano Rivera. I'm sure the beat writers in the press box, sensing a sweep, were writing their game story leads.

However, down on the field, Kevin Millar walked on 5 pitches. Dave Roberts pinch-ran and, on Rivera's first pitch, stole second. Bill Mueller singled to center and the game was tied. A bunt and an error put Mueller on third as the winning run with only 1 out. Rivera worked out of that bit of trouble -- Cabrera struck out, Manny walked and Ortiz popped to second -- but Boston won the game in the 12th inning, when Ortiz, in his next at-bat, cranked a two-run home run off Paul Quantrill. ... And later that day (!), Boston battled for 14 innings and came out on top, again led by one David Americo Ortiz, who has gladly taken the Red Sox and its fans on his back like Atlas.

Pedro -- He pitched out of jams in the 3rd and 4th while holding a slim 2-1 lead. He struck out Williams with runners on 1st & 3rd to end the 3rd and got out of a 1st & 2nd/no out mess in the 4th. He had thrown 82 pitches through five innings -- I thought he could go two more. But he ran into trouble in the 6th. With one out, Posada and Sierra both singled (88 pitches). Martinez took 7 pitches to strike out Clark (95) for the second out. He hit the #9 hitter Cairo with an inside fastball, loading the bases (97). (I don't think the bullpen was even up at this point.) Jeter, looking for a pitch outside, got one on a 1-1 count and doubled down the right field. All three runners scored (looked like Cairo was out on the replay) and New York led 4-2.

Pedro was now at an even 100 pitches. He plunked Rodriguez (102) and walked Sheffield (107). Myers and Timlin were up, but with Matsui at the plate, Francona stayed with Martinez. And I agreed with that move. Pedro fell behind 2-0, got a called strike and retired Matsui on a line out to Nixon in right. End of inning and end of Pedro's night (111 pitches). ... Pedro never had a 1-2-3 inning and didn't post the prettiest line -- 6-7-4-4-5-6 -- but he stranded 9 Yankee runners in those six innings, and did well enough, in my opinion.

Ortiz -- The big man singled in Boston's first run in the first inning and scored the second. He led off the bottom of the 8th with a opposite field shot into the Monster Seats off Tom Gordon. He walked in the 12th, but was called out trying to steal second. Replays showed he was safe and I actually didn't mind the attempt at that point.

And his AB in the 14th -- wow. Loazia -- in his 4th inning of relief -- had struck out Bellhorn, walked Damon and struck out Cabrera. Manny worked a 7-pitch walk and Damon went to second. Ortiz quickly fell behind 1-2, but then hung tight. He fouled off three straight pitches (the last one a long shot to deep right), took ball two, then fouled off 3 more. On the 10th pitch of the battle, he lined a single into center and Damon scored without a throw. ... Is there anything this man cannot do? I half expect him to pitch a scoreless inning tonight.

Millar/8th Inning Hit & Run -- After Ortiz's HR in the 8th brought Boston to within 1 run, Millar swung and missed at the first two pitches he saw. But he suddenly became patient and took four straight balls for a walk. Roberts came in to run and at that point, Gordon and Roberts began a lengthy cat-and-mouse game. Gordon threw Nixon a strike, but then went to first base 3 times. He also stepped off the rubber several times as Roberts danced back and forth. Obviously distracted (and perhaps a little tired (he threw 26 pitches in Game 4)), Gordon threw three pitches into the dirt, giving Nixon a 3-1 count. On a hit-and-run, Trot lined Gordon's next pitch to right center and Roberts raced to third. Perfect.

Rivera -- After Nixon's hit, Rivera came in with the bases loaded. Varitek hit a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game and Rivera had blown his second save of the day. It was the first time any pitcher has blown back-to-back saves during the Torre era. He threw 40 pitches in Game 4 and 22 more in Game 5.

Arroyo -- As Boston prepared to bat in the bottom of the ninth, Arroyo was warming up and Lowe, Wakefield and Schilling walked from the dugout to the bullpen. Would the rest of the starting rotation all be possible relievers? Arroyo had warmed up for the first time in the bottom of the 7th and he came in to pitch to the top of the New York lineup in the 10th. Jeter popped to short and both Rodriguez and Sheffield went down swinging. I would have liked to see Arroyo throw at least one more inning, but Francona brought in Myers to face Matsui in the 11th. Perhaps Arroyo is better used tonight.

Red Sox Bullpen -- In these last two games, the pen has been spectacular.
          IP   H   R  BB  K
Game 4    6.2  6   1  7   4
Game 5    8    5   0  3  10
That's an 0.61 ERA! ... After throwing 22 pitches Sunday, Foulke came out to throw 50 last night, finishing the 7th and pitching the 8th and 9th. After being unable to find the plate on Sunday, Myers came in and struck out Matsui on 4 pitches to open the 11th. ... And Tim Wakefield pitched the 12th, 13th and 14th innings, allowing only 1 hit and 1 (intentional) walk.

The walk came in the 13th, a inning in which Varitek was charged with 3 passed balls. Sheffield struck out, but reached first on PB #1. On a 3-1 count, Matsui forced Sheffield at second. Williams flew out to right for the second out. Wakefield's second pitch to Posada was PB #2 and Matsui advanced to second. The Sox decided to put Posada on base and deal with Sierra (who was 3-for-4 with 2 walks). Wakefield got ahead 0-2, but PB #3 moved the runners to 2nd & 3rd. Wakefield then threw ball 3 (argg - full count) before getting Sierra swinging at a pitch inside.

Tito -- 26 innings of baseball in only 30 hours has meant a lot of tough decisions. And his use of the bullpen in Games 4 & 5 has been brilliant. I wouldn't have wanted to be in his shoes.

It's been a soggy day in New York, so the field will be wet. ... Schilling/Lieber at 8:00 pm.

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