Paps, Papi, and the rest
A few scattered notes on Saturday's Sox-Yanks rain dance . . .
I'm officially worried about .070-hitting David Ortiz. Not so much about his slump, which seems to grow deeper and more hideous by the day, but about what might be causing it. I cringe when I read he's hobbling around the postgame locker room with a Pedroia-sized icepack on his surgically repaired knee, and it's as logical as it is terrifying to wonder if he's hurt. While I don't put much stock in the theory that aching knees are preventing him from going into his familiar crouch at the plate - even in good times, Papi fiddles with his stance - it's obvious that something is preventing him from getting comfortable at the plate, and it's damn disconcerting to watch him struggle this way. I just hope it's something one well-timed 450-foot home run can cure, and not something that requires a prolonged visit to the disabled list . . . I'm sure I wasn't the only one who fretted about the burden on Jonathan Papelbon's right shoulder while watching him warm up three times before he even threw a pitch today. But while the circumstances weren't exactly ideal, the result - a three-pitch strikeout of Alex Rodriguez with two outs and the tying run on second in the eighth inning - couldn't have been more impressive. Usually you don't see A-Rod look that overmatched until October . . . It's a good thing Lucchino had the Coke bottles taken to the redemption center, because Manny's home run might have shattered them. He really does look like his old self, doesn't he? (Somewhere, Mike Mussina takes a swig of his Zima and nods in agreement) . . . Though the scouting reports tell us he's a Rey Sanchez-type - slick glove, salami bat - Yankees temporary shortstop Alberto Gonzalez has been better than adequate at the plate in this series, and from what I have seen of him defensively, his reputation is justified. Which, by my accounting, makes Captain Jetes the third-best defensive shortstop on the Yankees' roster . . . Two very encouraging pitching developments: Josh Beckett, who had a lost spring due to back and hip injuries, looked like his ace self, allowing just one questionable infield hit through the first five innings. He ran out of gas a little bit in the seventh, but that brings us to the other good sign: an effective, overpowering, one-batter performance from Manny Delcarmen, who relieved Beckett with two outs in the inning and blew away Jose Molina. The more I see of this Sox bullpen, the more convinced I become that Delcarmen is the key to, well, everything . . . This was the kind of game the Sox used to lose to the Yankees. The Yankees would scratch and claw for a few runs against Boston's ace (Pedro in those days), the Sox would make some noisy outs with little to show for it against one of the Yankees' lesser starters (and make no mistake, that's what Mussina is these days - he has nothing), and then New York would steal the win with some timely hitting and/or a fortuitous break in the late innings. I don't know about you, but I like the endings much better these days . . . It's kind of weird without Joe Torre, isn't it? Though I have to admit, it was nice to be able to watch a ballgame without the usual shots of him mining his nostrils for treasure . . . I'm thinking Girardi walks Manny the next time, though pitching to him with first base open is exactly the kind of move you'd expect from a manager who has drawn comparisons to Buck Showalter for all the wrong reasons.
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As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Framingham Lou has quickly become the best thing about the Big Show. I know, that sounds like it should be filed under "Damning With Faint Praise," but in his new co-host role the former Sox utilityman and Nomar concierge is funny, frank, willing to share an inside-baseball anecdote or two, and clearly has a future in the media game if he wants one.