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The Kid's Alright: Birthday Boy

In a few words, the game this afternoon was painful. Very painful. And Iíd rather not dwell on what I saw broadcast on NESN a few hours ago. Last night, on the other hand, was a different story.

This Birthday Boy had a nice night at Fenway Park. Well, actually, my special day is tomorrow, but Friday night Yankee tickets with Pedro on the hill arenít exactly easy to come by. So it was a Wednesday night affair with the intimidating Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The real B-day boy, one Nomar Garciaparra, put up an 0-fer, as he turned 30. Never fear though, Trot Nixon came through, blasting home 5 RBIs on two home runs, including a grand slam. And though Iíve seen my share of grannies on TV, to be honest this might have been the first Iíve been witness to in person.

An electric thing it was, that whole 7-run seventh. Just after complaining about Doug Mirabelli getting the at bat he slipped one up the middle and found himself on first. I should have known: EPSN.com tells me Dougieís hitting .339 with nobody on and .400 when he leads off an inning. Then came Johnny Damon. Dare I say it, but I think he might be breaking out. Damon is hitting .333 since the break with an OBP of .379. Last night, he was patient at the plate and drew two walks. His biggest contribution came in the seventh, with Gabe Kapler pinch running for the aforementioned Mirabelli. Damon turned on a Travis Harper offering and launched a moon shot over Peskyís Pole. Johnnyís dancing on his way to first must have convinced the umps as they ruled it a fair ball. Iím not saying it wasnít fair, but those calls are always tough to make, and frequently go against the Sox. Such is the life in Boston, right?

A Todd Walker double, Garciaparra ground out and Ramirez intentional walk later, David Ortiz laced a double down the line in left to plate one. Bill Mueller drew a walk to set the stage for Trot. Nixonís blast in the third was the Sox first run and his granny in the seventh would be their last, as that swing put the Sox up 10-4 for good.

Iím not just trying to convince myself it was a good game, Iím pretty sure it really was. Of course no Sox game is complete without a big offensive barrage. That barrage, in this case, covered up a host of blunders from the Sox during the first six and a half innings. The game started with lousy base running. Damon was doubled off on a Nomar pop fly in the first. Manny led the next inning off with a wall ball double. To be honest he was done at second base, but the Rays mishandled the tag. After a David Ortiz strikeout, Bill Mueller sent a blooper into shallow left. Julio Lugo caught up to it, and Manny, running like the wind, was already around third. The Rays doubled him off without much trouble at second. Just like that and the Red Sox had played two innings, but only forced the D-Rays to get four outs.
The game went along well from then and the Sox took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Trot laced a two out single to right. Jeremy Giambi, 0 for 2 with two Ks to that point in the game, knocked a ball high off the wall. Running on contact, Nixon was on his way home with a run that would put Boston up two. At that point in time, before the seventh inning explosion, the Sox needed all the runs they could get. But Giambi, perhaps pressing his luck in the face of his sub .200 average, tried to stretch his wall ball single. With Nixon two steps from home plate, Giambi was nabbed at second. The crowd sank and as Wakefield surrendered two solo homers the next inning and Sox looked up from a 4-3 deficit, Giambi was being fit for the villainís costume on the night.

Damon and Nixon bailed Giambi out, as well as the rest of the team. Itís tough to complain after a 10-4 victory. But there are plenty of spots. The base running gaffes, early and late, are errors we might expect the blundering Devil Rays to commit. Iíll admit it, I really think this is the best team the Sox have put on the field, at least since Iíve been paying attention. And with the addition of Sauerbeck, who looked decent in an inning of work against righties and lefties alike, the pen is stronger. The rotation is nothing intimidating after Pedro and Lowe, but everyone gets the job done. We all know about the offense; it is, simply put, a juggernaut. But some games things just arenít going to work real well, pitchers might struggle or the offense might fall silent. In games like those a team that canít run the bases, a team that looks like it doesnít know how to run the bases, will be in big trouble.
There are plenty of rules about running you learn from little league on up. With two outs, you go on contact. With two outs and a full count, you go on the pitch. On balls deep in the outfield, you go halfway. But most important of any rule is common sense and always being aware. The Sox were not aware the bases last night. It didnít cost them, but eventually it probably will. I might sound overly negative and just be nitpicking. But hey, itís my birthday and Iíll complain if I want to.

- JJ Feigenbaum (he's only 16 for 24 more hours, like that matters)


Wild Card Wannabees

AL Wild

W

L

GB

Oakland

46

36

---

Boston

45

37

1.0

Anaheim

44

39

2.5

Chicago

42

38

3.0

Tampa Bay

42

41

4.5

AL East

W

L

GB

New York

51

31

---

Boston

45

37

6.0

Tampa Bay

42

41

9.5

Toronto

38

46

14.0

Baltimore

36

45

15.0


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The ďCurtís Pitch for ALSĒ program is a joint effort by Curt and Shonda Schilling, and The ALS Association Mass Chapter to strike out Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrigís Disease.

Curt and Shonda will be contributing $25,000 to The ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter, and they are asking fans to contribute as well. All proceeds will benefit research and patient services for those in Massachusetts affected by the disease. Program participants will receive different incentive prizes based on the dollar amount per strikeout that they pledge. Please click here to learn more about the program.

Schilling is Top Good Guy


The SHADE Foundation

The Curt and Shonda Schilling Melanoma Foundation of America welcomes Red Sox Nation to join in their fight to save future generations from melanoma, a potentially preventable skin cancer.


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