15 September 2005

Three Game Series in Toronto: David Ortiz 2, Blue Jays 1

Before I even start here- look at Francona's teeth there. Yeesh. Looks like a character from a Dickens novel with those things. That's what fist-sized wads of tobacco every night does to your punnum, kids. Doesn't matter how much gum you wrap it in. I just wish MLB would allow Michael Kay to outlaw that and save him and the rest of MLB's tobacco-addicted adults from themselves. I mean, won't someone think of the children?!

So we won last night because of, again, a late-inning game-winning HR from David Ortiz, his second of this series and his third since Tuesday, September 6th. I really, really don't believe a DH should get it unless he is overwhelmingly more valuable than every other position player- but in the minds of voters, stuff like this in a division race in September is what wins you the MVP. So he's making it very hard on voters at the moment, I would imagine. In fact, his HR last night makes 39 from the DH position, passing Edgar Martinez for the most in a single season.

Maybe one of the more heartening things about last night was David Wells- pretty simply put, David didn't have his great stuff last night. The curve was all over the place- falling in for strikes a few times, but up other times and bouncing the next. You could tell by watching him he was trying to find it- and it was still serviceable enough that he felt he could throw it until he did get it.

Still, without his really plus stuff, Wells was able to battle and hold the Sox in the game throughout- jamming a lot of the right handers inside with cutters and getting weak groundballs with fastballs outside. All told, in a big game for Boston, David stepped up last night. I've really grown to appreciate Wells- there's nothing I love more than a pitcher that sits back and throws strikes, knows the zone, and keeps batters off balance. David can be as dominating as anyone when that curve is dropping hard.

And just in case I forget to mention it- it was refreshing seeing a sure-handed, able-bodied SS on the field for the Sox tonight, and even though it's hard not to like Edgar- 27 errors is retarded. Just ridiculous. Alex Cora gives you some solid at bats, great defense, and terrific utility-infielder type skills. Not a huge contributor, but someone we're a lot better off with than without. Hopefully a day off sends Edgar on a hitting/ errorless streak. I've been waiting for the latter all season, unfortunately.

Great job as well from Fad Jadford, who pitched to Vernon Wells (who owns him), Corey Koskie, and Shea Hillenbrand in the 8th. With Myers and Papelbon warming, it seemed obvious to me that Francona would let Bradford have Wells and then Koskie if he ended up getting Wells. Vernon didn't appear to even have a chance, and so with no one on and a 2-run lead, it made sense for him to go after Koskie so he could face Hillenbrand as well. Then you wait for manager John Gibbons to pinch hit a lefty on Bradford with one of his RH-heavy members of the lineup, and get Myers.

Bradford got the DP from Shea after hitting Koskie, Timlin got a 1-2-3 9th and we got a big win.

So now, the Magic Number sits at...

Here are the updated BP odds as well:

Chicago_______80.752% v
Boston________78.570% ^
Los Angeles___58.730% v
Oakland_______41.266% ^
New York______21.429% v
Cleveland_____19.427% ^

A very cool feature on the page allows you to track the odds throughout the season by clicking on each team's name. With a win yesterday, even though New York won as well, Boston slightly up-ticked their chances. Cleveland's shot looks better every day- a win over Oakland to take the series while Chicago blew a 9th inning lead to Kansas City to lose on the road. Cleveland gets a lot of two teams down the stretch, exactly what they could hope for: Kansas City and Chicago.

Meanwhile, both Los Angeles and Oakland faltered last night, which somehow hurts the Angels- this gets complicated, mostly (I think) because teams on LA and Oakland's remaining schedules likely dictated a slight shift in "strength."

Again, this is really just for fun, and you can't put too much stock into it. That said, as a Sox fan- I'd rather have a 78.5% chance of winning the division than a 21.4% one. Just sayin'.

The rough part about last night was, of course, Gabe Kapler. The way it developed wasn't like anything I'd ever seen before. With two outs in the 5th innings, Kapler hit a routine ground ball to third, busted his ass down the line and was able to make a poor throw from Corey Koskie count- Hillenbrand dropped the ball and Kapler stood safe on first base. The score at this point was 2-1 in favor of Toronto, and the error brought Tony Graffanino to the plate, and he hadn't been retired by Josh Towers all night.

Graffanino got a pitch to drive and pulled it out to left-field; a low, sinking line drive that was struck hard, it looked ticketed for the top of the wall. Kapler, running on contact, could see the play developing in front of him, and just as he saw the ball creep over the wall by not more than a foot, he was rounding second base. As his left foot propelled to the ground off the bag, it seemed to buckle the slightest bit- his right leg then came down and caught Rogers Center carpet, and as Tony Graffanino was in between first a second, Kapler hit the deck hard- and didn't move.

Graffanino wisely stopped running (obviously, if he passes Kapler on the basepaths, he's out) as Kapler lay on the turf, unable to move. He didn't look to be in a ton of pain, but he wasn't moving to get up, either. He just kept mouthing "nope."

''I can't really describe it other than it felt like I got hit or popped in the back of my ankle," he said. ''I haven't looked at the tape and didn't really see what happened. All I know is I didn't do a good job of staying on my feet."

Jime Rowe and Chang Lee the trainer and assistant trainer, respectively, looked like they were going to attempt to lead Kapler around 3rd base towards home to finish the HR. But it became pretty clear right away that he wasn't going to be able to do so, and the following rule (5.10 (c) in the MLB rulebook) came into play:

"When an accident incapacitates a player or an umpire:

(1) If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field . . . a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play."

Alejandro Machado finished off the trot, as did Tony Graffanino in what must have been one of the longest HR trots in history.

What's really tough about this, outside of the obvious baseball ramifications, is that Gabe Kapler has always seemed like a tremendous person, is a favorite of his teammates, and looks like he may have ended his career. No longer known for his hitting, Kapler, 30 years old, had his value tied up in speed and defense- two things that will be immensely compromised by this injury- a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He'll miss the rest of this year, and likely the next. He may not have been the best guy on the roster- not even close- but he always played really hard, really well, and clearly enjoyed his place in Boston. To think he may have played his last game makes me feel bad, just for the guy if nothing else.

Get better, Superjew.

______________________________ |