The Red Sox, Like Richard Dawson, Are Alive.
I can't say enough about the pitching performances of Mike "I love this city" Timlin and Scott Williamson. Timlin has been one of Boston's most reliable relievers this year (72 games), but he has also had several bad outings when asked to pitch a second inning. He's a control pitcher, always around the plate, and will therefore surrender his share of home runs (11). He went three innings last night, retired all nine batters he faced and made two excellent plays on the mound, leaping high to snare a couple of high choppers from Chavez and Hattberg. He struck out three, including Byrnes on 9 pitches to start the 10th. ... Williamson showed again that when he relies on his fastball, he'll be fine. In the 11th, he started Tejada off with two off-speed pitches (mid-80s) and fell behind 2-0. When he threw heat, he regained his edge and struck Tejada out, although he did pull a string on an 80-mph slider to catch Hernandez looking to end the inning.
Lowe was outstanding. Grady stuck with him even after he allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases with 1 out in the 7th. Timlin and Embree were both warm, but Lowe was allowed to face McMillon (a line drive out directly at Jackson at 2B) and Durazo (line out to center). Thanks to the pen, Oakland would not get another runner on base for the rest of the game.
The only questionable move Grady made was in the bottom of the 9th. Varitek led off with a bloop single to center off Bradford and was removed for pinch-runner Brown. Kapler failed twice to bunt and Brown never tried to steal (he should have). Kapler grounded into a 5-4-3 double play on the 0-2 pitch and pinch-hitter Walker (facing LHP Rincon) popped to short. ... Now, after the mismoves of Game 1, Grady had to have known that Macha would bring in Rincon once the lefty (Walker) was announced. [Interesting that Grady did not hit Nixon for Jackson and then put Walker in the infield. Did Grady feel Walker stood a better chance against Rincon? Was he saving Nixon?]
I would have had Mirabelli hit for Walker against the lefty (and put Merloni in at 2B) because (a) Mirabelli hits lefties better and has more power than Walker, (b) Mirabelli was going to enter the game as the catcher in a possible 10th inning anyway, and (c) I didn't want to see Walker at 2B in extra innings. It turns out there were no ground balls in the next two innings to worry about. ... Little stayed with the hot hand of Timlin and that paid off handsomely. Williamson was a great choice to follow him out of the pen. And hitting Nixon for Kapler was an inspired, if completely obvious, call!
Little said Pedro would be physically able to go today, but Burkett's the man. According to statistician Chuck Waseleski, Martinez has never pitched on three days rest in his entire career. (With Montreal, he pitched on two days rest June 23, 1995 in a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh (8 innings, 5 hits, and 2 runs), but that was after he was knocked out after .2 of an inning against the Houston Astros, allowing five runs.) ... Martinez told Little he was available for a couple of innings, but Little saw only one scenario in which he'd use him: "[H]e was going to pitch the top of the ninth if we were able to get a run across in the bottom of the eighth inning." That didn't happen, and sure enough, Pedro sat down for good after that.
Dirt Dog says Pedro will be with the team today and fly to Oakland with them Sunday evening. ... Manny calls his shot (Trot's shot that is). ... Nixon played Wiffle ball in the weight room with trainer/pitcher Chang Lee to work on his hand-eye coordination.
Once again: "Over the past seven postseasons there have been 35 starts made on three days rest, resulting in a 6-17 record and a 5.47 ERA ... Hudson gave up five hits and seven runs, two earned, in 3.1 innings while working on short rest in Game 4 of the Division Series vs. Minnesota last year."
Gordon Edes asked some Red Sox how many times they thought the team batted around in an inning. Millar: "Seven." Hitting Coach Ron Jackson: "Four?" Kapler was told it was not a low number: "Twenty-five." ... The Red Sox batted around 38 times (most in the major leagues). In linescore fashion, here are the times by the specific innings:
438 342 644 - 38
Byung-Hyun Kim was booed by fans during introductions. He raised his right arm and touched the bill of his cap, brought his arm down to his side, then raised it again and put up his middle finger. He issued an apology after the game. ... Jin Hyung Park, who works for SportsChosun in Seoul, said Kim told him he was distraught after being yanked in Game 1: "He thought when Grady Little came out of the dugout, he was coming to give him advice." ... Giving the fans the finger is not a good thing. But the frustration that fueled the gesture is understandable. Kim has been an excellent pitcher in his short career (he's still only 24) and had has the supreme misfortune to work for two men who have not one iota of a clue how to use him.
Most Bloggers must be sleeping in ... Ed is up and enjoying the morning; Matthew goes off on Grady: "His moves in the series have been a nutty, chewy mix of overmanaging and simplistic playing the odds and his hunches. ... Grady has been a true amalgamation of Bob Brenly and Jimy Williams."
The definition of a Red Sox fan? Chris Irr, 19: "A real fan is always there each year to stick it out and go through the whole struggle again." ... Pat Totten, 14: "It comes from the heart. Your soul belongs to the Red Sox and you live and die with them." ... Holly Fairchild, 56: "A Red Sox fan is somebody who never gives up hope. If they are up or down, we love them. We are Red Sox fans in Boston and true fans are loyal."