The Baltimore Orioles have caused the Sox almost no pain in recent years. But the pain that they have inflicted has come almost exclusively off the arm of Hideki Okijima. So what does Terry Francona do today? With an immature Baltimore rally brewing in the 7th, he calls on Hideki of all people to put out the fire and Oki responds miserably, quickly turning a 4-1 Sox lead into a 4-4 tie. And only a nice dive by Bill Hall prevented an Oki-fueled uprising in the 8th.
Should this meltdown have come as a surprise? Well, it shouldn’t have surprised those who remember that Hideki was one of the main culprits in last year’s nine-run Oriole comeback. And it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who remembers the two abortions from June of 2008 where the Birds stole two wins by pounding Oki twice in eight days. Folks, Baltimore owns this guy and for some strange reason, Terry Francona refuses to manage accordingly.
* So do you know why Hideki got that call in the 7th ahead of MDC? And why Scott Atchison got the ball in the tenth ahead of MDC? Perhaps it’s because MDC’s recent track record against the Birds is every bit as bad as Oki. Last season, the Birds hit MDC for seven hits, seven walks and two bombs in just eight innings. That being said, Atchison hasn’t thrown in a while so you’d think he would be a last resort in an extra inning tie-game. It makes for a pretty easy second guess as MDC came in and quickly cleaned up Atchison’s mess.
* If you want to know where today’s game was lost, then you might want to take a look at the ninth inning last night, where Ramon Ramirez was unable to pitch with a four run lead and Jonathan Papelbon had to be summoned to finish the game. Because of that appearance, Pap was off limits today and the Sox had to go to Atchison in the tenth. I think reasonable minds might agree that Papelbon would have achieved a different result.
* I bought some stock in BARD (Nasdaq Listing) yesterday after the stock pulled back off that Friday night home run. After today’s impressive inning, Bard’s stock looks to be trading right back to where it was on Thursday. Nice trade but I had to sell. You see, I can’t own any more BARD in my portfolio as I am already own too much.
* While the Sox produced six runs on thirteen hits, it was not exactly a very good day for the offense. Yeah, they strung together an excellent inning in the sixth and the comeback in the tenth showed guts, but the first five innings were flaccid and the situational hitting in the seventh and ninth was maddening. I’m sorry, but after relinquishing a 4-1 lead in the seventh, how do you waste a leadoff double? That was a horrible job by Youkilis to ground out when only a simple 250 foot fly was needed. And then in the ninth, with McDoanld sitting at second with the winning run, neither Pedro or Martinez could get any good wood on the ball. If that happens to Bill Hall or Jason Varitek, so be it. But if the Sox are going to be a big home team, they need these guys to come through when walk-off opportunities present themselves.
* This is one day I am not going to kill David Ortiz. He got a big hit in the sixth inning rally. He crushed a ball in the tenth that was probably a 390 foot out. And even though he whiffed in the seventh with the leading (winning) run on third, I thought his unsuccessful bunt attempt on strike one was an excellent play. He still looks awfully vulnerable but he showed some signs this weekend.
* That was quite a volatile day in the field for Adrian Beltre. He muffed two balls to leadoff the game and then vacuumed up everything hit his away. I’m still a big fan of his glove but his power, or lack thereof, is troubling.
* Tomorrow night should be interesting and stands to be a good “over” bet. The Jays are throwing Dana Eveland, a guy who the Sox have destroyed in the past. Meanwhile, Beckett gets the ball for the Sox and he has had big problems versus the Jays since coming to Boston. Vernon Wells is certainly looking forward to tomorrow ….he is 10-33 off Beckett with five home runs. Some of that was done while Wells was mired in a three year slump. Now that he’s hot, look out ……