Last night I got to the park and saw the tarp on the field. I arrived early for batting practice, but I didn’t get as upset as usual when they were not hitting. I have been reading a book by Joe Posnanski called “The Soul of Baseball.” The book chronicles the authors journey around the country with Buck O’Neil. It is a great book, and I was happy to have some extra time to read it. If you like baseball this is a great book for you. Anyway I had a seat in section 149 for the Mullet Night festivities. This is a great section to get some good pictures of the Sox team as they warm up for the game. It is kind of interesting to see the different ways that the players get themselves ready for the game. Some players like Pods will warm up forever doing all sorts of exercises. Others get stretched by a trainer or they stretch themselves. Some play catch, and some play catch up with players from the other team. Everyone has their own routine that gets them ready for gametime. This year they had no Mullet parade around the field so most of the Mullet night festivities were confined to between innings. It was a good time, but nothing will compare to that first Mullet night when we walked on the field.
The game started simple enough. Both teams only sent three batters up to the plate in the first inning. Pauly hit a solo shot in the second that put the Sox up 1-0, and get the crowd going. Thome just missed a home run just before Pauly came up. Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold pulled the ball off the top of the wall. Danks gave up a two run homer to Nick Markakais that gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the third. The Sox responded with two of their own in the bottom of the inning to take the lead back. Adam Jones then tied it up with a solo shot in the fourth. Jones looks like a good center fielder. His numers suggest that he can hit, and he seems to know his way around the outfield. It is interesting to watch a team with a good all around center fielder. The game then shifted to Jim Thome. He hit a line drive three run homer down the right field line in the fifth inning that gave the Sox a 6-3 lead. He then came up with the bases loaded in the sixth, and tried to hit the ball out of the park to straightaway center field. The ball looked as though it was headed to the plaque that the team erected for him in center for his bombs last year. The grand slam gave him 7 RBI’s in two innings. This is a great feat. I saw Tadahito Iguchi pull this off in 2006 during a Sunday night game, but Jim made it a little more interesting with the tape measure shot. They said the ball went 448 feet, but I don’t know how it was not longer. Thome had a great night and stole the show, but Scotty Pods had a good night as well. When he was brought back I could not figure out why. He has shown every game since he made it back what he can do when healthy. All he did last night was go 3-3 with two walks, a stolen base, and three runs scored. He reached base all five times he came up to the plate. More importantly he scored three of those times. We need this kind of production from the leadoff spot. Gordon Beckham was also on base four of five times last night. Maybe this offense is coming around.
With all of the good things that the offense brought last night we almost can forget about some of the bad things. One of those is Dewayne Wise who went 0-5 last night, and was the only Sox player not to reach base. He did get one ball out of the infield in the 7th though so maybe he is coming around. In the field he just looked lost last night. He had trouble on a couple of routine plays, and looked terrible on a couple balls that he had to run for. He hit the left center wall so hard on one of those that we watched to see if he would get up. At some point we have to cut ties with this guy. Ozzie likes him for some reason, but what does he really bring to this team? The relief last night also left something to be desired. Danks gave up 3 runs in 5 innings, and left the game with a 6-3 lead. The pen though decided to make it interesting. Linebrink gave up two runs and Thornton gave up three to keep some of the Sox fans in their seats a little while longer. Dotel gave up a leadoff double in the 7th, but fanned two of the next three batters to get out of the inning. From the first pitch it looked as if Octavio was going to have a rough day. In all the Sox pitchers gave up 8 runs on 14 hits. The Sox were actually out hit, but made the most of their 13 hits. Two other negatives were the errors by Getz and Ramirez. If we are going to take the Central and possibly go farther we have to shore up our defense. With the pitchers already struggling you can’t afford to give the other team extra chances.
Enough negatives though. This was an exciting game that helped the Sox gain a game on the Tigers who lost last night to the Yankees. I think that this team is good enough to make things interesting the rest of the year. The only question is how interesting will this get? We will know very soon as we will see some of the best that the AL East has to offer in the Rays and the Yankees in the next couple of weeks. That should be a good measuring stick.