A little change up for the blog today. I couldn’t help myself after watching the third game of the Red Sox vs. Angels last night. Baseball has a funny universal thing about it. Take this series for instance. The first game was intense.. a playoff feel to it without question. Game 2.. the intensity level rises.
The incredible controversy over the Nick Green at bat. “What was the count on Green? 3-4?” Mike Scioscia and the rest of the Angels were crying (I thought there was no crying in baseball?) over the balls and strikes.
Game 3… what could it possibly bring to the table that would raise the intensity? How about the Baseball Gods!
What a prime example of the wild and whacky game of baseball. The ultimate drama. You couldn’t script this any better if you were the greatest playwright in the Universe!
With the lingering issues of balls and strikes in everybody’s mind, the two teams set their aces in motion… Santana vs. Beckett. Strike throwing machines.
And did they ever deliver.
Two stellar performances.. each worthy of a W. Funny thing about baseball; there’s only room for one W in each game. This one was hand delivered by the Baseball Gods themselves.
Well, that………. And….. some good ol’ fashion baseball from one of the true masters of strategy in the chess game of baseball (More on that later).
There was definitely noshortage of whining on questionable strike calls in this game. Plenty. In fact, there were a number of them. Most notably the called strike three to Mike Lowell in the 7th. Pretty much.. THE PERFECT PITCH (take note if you’re a pitcher)!!
David Oritz was also a victim of the K’s being hand delivered by the Angels.
But.. let’s not forget this blog is about HITTING.. and although it wasn’t easy for anybody at the plate (having to fight the fantastic dealing by the aces AND the questionable zone from good ol’ Mr. BLUE)… One guy came through like a glowing Angel!
Howie Kendrick! His opposite field bomb opened up the scoring and it looked good for the Angels to finally get off the snide in Fenway. Uhhh.. have we forgotten the drama.. ?
This is a scratch your eyes out kind of team… these Red Sox… and they pulled out the heart of the Angels again taking a lead with two huge HRs by Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Bay. Getting late into the game the Red Sox had the lead 3-2.
Ah… but that heart was still beating.
(this heart courtesy of Jane Heller’s blog!)
Onward to the Angels 7th where Yesterday’s Hitter Howie Kendrick impacts the game again! His seemingly harmless single starts an Angels uprising. Eventually, Scioscia ball gets Hendrick to 3rd with two outs and Chone Figgins at the plate with a 1-2 count.
Enter the Baseball Gods…
Wednesday’s game surrounded the “check/nocheck” swing of potential strike 3 on Nick Green. What happens in the heat of the 3rd game? Beckett deals a low slider.. Figgins checks his swing… strike 3!
But NOOOO! the ball is loose and who comes trotting in to knot the game at 3? Our guy.. Howie Kendrick.
But… that’s not all folks! In the bottom of that inning Mike Lowell has issues with a called strike! Real issues!… Maybe with merit.. maybe without…the pitch was pretty close to perfect. (Did I Say Perfect?! ) It was.
The coup de grace comes in the 9th when the strategy of a National League catcher who lives by the simple basics of the game proves his small ball theory… works!
The big aces are gone.. . it’s time for the saviors.. enter Billy Wagner who promptly walks leadoff hitter Juan Rivera on 5 pitches. Uh Oh. Wrong thing to do with Scioscia. What does he do? What any NL Skipper would do. He bunts him over! He doesn’t just bunt him over. He has a pinch hitter enter the game to execute the vital chess move. Reggie Willits. Perfectly done!
Guess who comes to the plate? You guessed it Yesterday’s Hitter!
The torch was passed to the man of the hour with full and comlete confidence the strategy would work.
Did I mention anything about Baseball Gods? You have to believe that was the case when Kendrick’s little duck snort blooper barely fluttered over the outstretched glove of Pedroia to bring in the winning run. Talk about guided by an Angel.
Oops.. .go back. Another carefully thought out piece of the chess game was put in play prior to Kendrick’s magical blooper. A Pinch Runner! Scioscia pulled all the tricks, including bunting again to try to tack on some more runs in the 9th.. it didn’t cash in.. but showed the simple basics of the game are powerful little pawns in baseballs’s version of chess.
Howie Kendrick was without question the annointed carrier of the message from the Baseball Gods. His line: 3-4 2RBIs 2Runs.
Congratulations Howie.. You’re Yesterday’s Hitter!
It was a tough decision for today’s pick as several players had big impacts in their team’s win. However, the combination of Josh Hamilton’s escape from his power failure and the very valuable ground Texas gained on both the Angels and the Red Sox was the deciding factor. After nearly coming out of a black hole the night before and losing to the Blue Jays, the Rangers took 2 in Texas. Josh Hamilton keyed the sweep by driving out 2 big HRs in game 2 of the Double Dip. Hamilton had gone 23 games and 99 at bats since his last HR. He powered a 435ft solo shot to break out of his home run slump. Click Here!
Honorable Mention; Jorge Posada, Todd Helton, Michale Cuddyer