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  • Jul

    Buncha Punks

    Written by Mike Laws

    Buncha punks

    Drew’s twin blasts power Sox (though they were hard to hear over all that whining)

    Boston 7, Orioles 3

    Remember back before the Red Sox had won that first World Series in 2004, when they were just a “buncha idiots,” and though you were duty-bound to dislike them it was actually kinda hard, given that the image they’d cultivated (freewheelin’, devil-may-care, hirsute) was basically the anti-Yankee (stolid, cold, passably groomed)?

    This is not that team. In the past two nights alone, from this thoroughly loathable version of the Red Sox, we’ve seen a) a starter who pitches fits almost as frequently as, you know, actual baseballs; b) a manager who comes out to argue even when a call went in his favor; and c) David Ortiz melting down utterly.

    But wait. I almost forgot this was supposed to be a recap of the Saturday-night game that took place under cover of all that kvetching. Here: Scott Feldman looked fine through two, buckled in the third and caved in the fourth. Stephen Drew (of all the unlikely candidates) socked two dingers, good for five driven in. Meanwhile, the Oriole offense enjoyed several opportunities for that elusive Big Inning, out of which they could wring only three total runs, never posting more than a single digit in any frame. Chris Davis struck out a couple more times (though he did also rifle a single and draw a walk). Manny Machado took an 0-for-4, also with a walk, as well as a strikeout. Yadda, yadda, and yadda.

    There. Now the boring stuff’s out of the way, and we can talk about John Farrell, who first appeared in the third, when Jacoby Ellsbury split the 5/6 hole for a single with Drew already aboard at second, Ellsbury somehow managing this despite his bat grazing Matt Wieters’s glove. Home-plate ump Tim Timmons (who would figure prominently; read on) initially ruled it catcher’s interference, and indicated that Ellsbury would have to return to second, before conferring with his collegial men in black and, in essence, declining the option on Boston’s behalf — permitting the base hit to stand, and Ellsbury to remain on third base — though this was not before Farrell came out to, er, argue …

    Which was not the last time we’d see the visiting manager, on the night. Fast-forward to the sixth, here, when Mike Carp cued an infield single down the third-base line, against the shift, and was followed by Jarrod Saltalamacchia doing likewise on a bouncer, with a really nice play from Machado to field behind the bag and hustle the ball to second in time to nab the lead runner. But out came Farrell, who thought the ball was foul. It wasn’t, but OK, fine, whatever. (Would also have been interesting if Brian Roberts hadn’t scooped Machado’s relay; would Farrell still have argued it? Would Buck Showalter have?) In any event, the at-bat that followed presented Oriole fans with a vexing play on three or four different counts: Drew, having already delivered a three-run homer back in the fourth, now took Troy Patton deep to right — the ball cleared the top of the groundskeepers’ bullpen, as well as a valiant leaping effort from Nick Markakis, and hit off the little backsplash atop the ceiling of that dugout out there and sprang back onto the field of play, settling in right-center field, where a confused-looking Adam Jones eventually collected it and fired it back in. The run from first had of course by this time already come in to score, but the O’s had Drew hung up between third and home, with Wieters running the batter back down the line, faking him into pivoting toward the plate again, and lunging with a two-handed tag, which maneuver Drew evaded running-back style, jumping sidewise out of Wieters’s reach and making a beeline for home. The Oriole catcher rushed a throw to the covering Davis and missed badly, flipping his relay into the dirt, where it went skittering past the plate and into foul ground. Drew, who’d never left the baseline (I guess) had a de facto inside-the-park home run, though more likely it’d go as a triple with an eventual throwing error on Wieters. Or something. Farrell again charged out to argue: Hey, blue, that was an actual home run! It’s very important that we get this right! A one-run triple and an error permitting the second run to score anyway just won’t suffice! Now, of course, the umps had gotten the call wrong, initially, and did eventually reverse themselves after huddling off unseen down the tunnel somewhere to take in the video replay — but still. What, does Farrell have Drew on his fantasy team? (By the way: If so, why?) It also strikes me Farrell would make the world’s worst defense attorney (“Not guilty — whoa, whoa, wait a minute, what’s your thinking on that, here, yer’onor?”)

    Anyway, on toward the late innings this thing trudged along, with Patton making way for Jairo Asencio, who promptly surrendered an outing-opening first-pitch Shane Victorino home run. Dustin Pedroia then smashed a grounder directly down the third-base line, which somehow Machado dived for and snared on the backhand and still had enough time to pop to his feet, pivot and zip it over to first for the out. Nicely done, but it’s probably only masking Asencio’s deficiencies (read: He has one MLB-quality pitch, and it ain’t the fastball), and now he had to deal with Ortiz. Against whom Asencio fell quickly behind 3-0 before attempting a grooved-in fastball, which Ortiz was not only taking all the way but actually lowered his bat and backed away from, as Asencio delivered, which only foreshadowed the prima-donna-ish display that was to ensue. The pitch was high, no doubt it was high, but Timmons must have decided to punish Ortiz for his behavior at the dish, disrespectful not only to his countryman Asencio but to the game itself. Timmons called the pitch a strike; Ortiz flipped his bat off over in the general direction of the visitors’ dugout, and now stood there, looking incredulous, and saying something or other to Timmons. The same thing happened on the next pitch, also borderline, though at least this time Ortiz only started to toss his bat aside. More choice words, it looked like. Then Asencio delivered one of those fine fading changeups under Ortiz’s hands, and the big diva swung and missed, and became at this point shall we say a touch indignant. He walked very slowly back to the dugout, motioning in a perverse salute toward Timmons that that 3-0 pitch had been high. Yeah, well, no s**t, David. That almost wasn’t the issue. Ortiz made it back to the dugout, or at least to the steps thereof, and must have still been jawing, because Timmons tossed him. (Which, incidentally, gave Oriole fans something to cheer about, finally.) Ortiz went full-on apoplectic. He stormed back on the field. He probably imprecated quite a bit. He did the whole “lemmeathim lemmeathim” routine, with his manager holding him back. Man, Ortiz is so TOUGH! Watch him take a bat to the dugout phone (nearly taking the head off the seated Pedroia, who got up, rightfully upset now himself, and could be seen telling Ortiz to STOP). Watch him make that poutily puerile hate-face in Timmons’s direction. Probably had himself a really good big anger-eating binge back in the clubhouse. Maybe he took a killer angry-nap, too.

    Unfortunately, that was the extent of the remaining drama in this moribund affair. The Orioles pushed across a wholly meaningless third run in the eighth. Brian Matusz and Francisco Rodriguez pitched, and looked pretty much fine. Koji Uehara coughed up a one-out double to Nate McLouth, in the ninth, but avoided any additional trouble, finally putting this thing to rest after a cool four hours or so. Rubber game on Sunday afternoon, everyone. Have you ever wanted a series win as badly as this one?

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