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2005: Diary of a Season
Red Sox 10, Reds 3
After my trip to St. Louis, the Red Sox went on to Chicago, where they lost two of three to the Cubs. The two teams had not met yet since the introduction of interleague play, so it was the fist time they had played each other since the 1918 World Series. On Monday, they returned to Fenway Park to face the Cincinnati Reds, whom they had not played since the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox commemorated the matchup with a ceremony before the game in which the left field foul pole was officially named the "Fisk Pole". Carlton Fisk sat in the Green Monster seats next to the pole before the game, while his historic game-winning home run off the foul pole in Game 6 of the '75 Series was played on the scoreboard. Then he threw out the first pitch, caught - in a reversal of roles - by his Game 6 battery-mate, Luis Tiant.
Matt Clement was going up against Eric Milton, and it was finally a warm 88 degrees. The Reds went quietly in the first three innings, as Clement continued the mastery he had shown at Fenway all year. In the bottom of the third, Jay Payton doubled. Johnny Damon beat out an infield single, and Edgar Renteria doubled them both home for a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox extended their lead the next inning. Manny Ramirez hit a ground-rule double and stole third (phew!). Jason Varitek singled him home, and Bill Mueller's double scored Tek. A few batters later, Damon's single made it 5-0. The Reds got a couple of runs back in the fifth, on a walk, a triple, and a sac fly, but in the sixth the game got fun. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for David Ortiz, and he singled home two runs. Manny followed with a three-run homer, and just like that it was 10-2.
Between innings, it was announced on the scoreboard that the World Series trophy had now visited 346 of the 351 towns in Massachusetts. It had already been to all six New England states, plus California, Florida, New York, and the Dominican Republic. It was now on its way through every city and town in the state. The trophy tour finished up the following week in the tiny island town of Gosnold, whose population, appropriately enough, is 86. One of the traditions at Fenway in recent years is playing "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth inning. It started as just another song in the between-innings mix, but when people started singing along, they played it more often. In 2000, they played it in the eighth inning if the Sox had the lead, and by 2003, they were playing it at every game. As the song played tonight, the scoreboard announced that Jason Varitek's wife had given birth to their third daughter, "Sweet" Caroline Morgan, that morning at 4:41 am, and welcomed her as the newest member of Red Sox Nation. Clement pitched through the eighth inning, and wound up striking out nine. Matt Mantei finished it up for a fun win.
Red Sox 8, Pirates 0
The Red Sox went on to sweep the Reds and split the first two games with the Pirates. I was back on Sunday, which was Father's Day, but had been included in my Tenth Man Plan. The friend I normally go with couldn't come, so my brother came down again. It was Matt Clement again, my fourth straight home game with him starting, and he had not lost at Fenway this year. It was kind of a makeshift lineup, with Johnny Damon out to rest the shoulder he had injured earlier in the month, and Manny Ramirez getting the afternoon off after being hit by a pitch in the leg the night before. So Trot Nixon was leading off, with Jay Payton in center field, Kevin Millar in left, and John Olerud at first. The Pirates went down in order in the first and second, and Bill Mueller's sacrifice fly scored a run for the Sox in the bottom of the second.
In the third, Nixon and Edgar Renteria singled, and David Ortiz hit a triple that knocked both of them in. When we saw that Papi had wound up on third, we joked that Millar should take a few pitches to give him time to catch his breath. But on the first pitch of the at-bat, Millar lofted one into left field - not particularly deep, either - and Papi had to run home to score on the sac fly. Later in the inning, Payton homered, extending the lead to 6-0. The Sox tacked on another run on another sac fly in the fourth, and scored their eighth run on Mueller's triple in the fifth. Clement went seven innings, giving up only three hits and one walk, and striking out nine. Alan Embree, who had been struggling all season and had an ERA over 6.00, pitched two clean innings to finish off the win.
Indians 12, Red Sox 8
After the Father's Day game, the Red Sox went on the road. They swept the entire road trip, winning three games in Cleveland and three in Philadelphia, and finally passed Baltimore for first place in the A.L. East. (The Yankees were in third place, 5 1/2 games back.) Then they returned to Fenway and lost the first game to the Indians. I was back on Tuesday night for the second game of the series, which pitted Wade Miller against Cliff Lee. I had been impressed with Miller's first few starts, but instead of returning to form as a top-of-the-rotation starter, he had leveled off into a guy who could get through five or six innings but that was about it. Tonight he got off to a slow start. He walked the first batter, gave up a single, then allowed a run-scoring double and a groundout that scored another run. Aaron Boone, the villian of the 2003 ALCS who had missed all of 2004 due to injury, was now with the Indians, and led off the second. We of course booed him loudly every time up, but I half-wanted to ignore him altogether, to prove to him that now that we were the World Champions, he couldn't hurt us any more. Now he was just some dumb loser who once got ahold of a knuckleball. So what? I still hated him, but it's not like that play was eating at me any more. But he hit Wade Miller's first pitch of the inning over the Green Monster for a 3-0 lead, and it was settled. Booooo!
Jay Payton, taking Trot Nixon's place in right field against the left-handed Lee, knocked in a run for the Red Sox in the second. Miller gave up another run in the fifth, but the Red Sox offense hung in there, scoring two more in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-3. Miller got two outs in the sixth, but then issued a walk and surrendered an RBI double. It was 5-3, and he had thrown 117 pitches, when the Sox finally went to the 'pen. That was the problem with Miller not going very deep into games, it forced the bullpen into early action. Alan Embree and Keith Foulke, both of whom had been very effective in the Championship year of 2004, were struggling with ERAs around 6.00. Mike Timlin's ERA was below 2.00, but he had a habit of allowing a lot of inherited runners to score, thereby not inflating his own ERA. Tonight Mike Myers was the first reliever in, and he got out of the sixth with no further damage.
We got a kick out of watching Manny Ramirez duck into the Green Monster during the pitching changes. I had no problem with him going in there during pitching changes, and saw it as just an amusing "Manny Being Manny" moment. After all, Damon and Nixon would occasionally head into the bullpen while waiting between pitchers. But Manny caught some grief the following month when he disappeared during a conference on the mound that wasn't even a pitching change (there's no bathroom in the Monster, but he said he went in to "pee into a cup") and nearly wasn't back out on the field in time for the next pitch.
In the bottom of the sixth, Payton beat out an infield hit, and Kevin Youkilis knocked him in with a double. Mark Bellhorn's sac fly scored Youk to tie it up, and after a walk and a hit, David Ortiz gave the Sox the lead with an RBI single. Manny and Kevin Millar followed with their own run-scoring hits, and the Sox led 8-5. Myers and Timlin combined to get through the seventh, and Timlin came back out for the eighth. He gave up two runs, and Foulke came on for the ninth to protect the one-run lead. He retired the first batter, gave up a double, and got the second out. But then another double tied the game, and the next two batters walked to load the bases. Next thing we knew, Travis Hafner hit a towering shot down the right field line that stayed fair for a grand slam. As awesome as Foulke had been in 2004, especially in the postseason, he had really been struggling lately, and he had made matters worse when he called the fans "Johnny from Burger King" and said he didn't care what they thought of him. Tonight he seemed to have hit rock bottom. It was now 12-8, and the Red Sox weren't able to recover in the bottom of the ninth.
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