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Freddy Got Fingers

By Phil Janowicz

COLUMNIST

Facing the best the NL Central had to offer, the Red Sox breezed through the Houston Astros with a sweep of the broom. On Saturday, everything was working for the Sox with Derek Lowe’s sinker working and with the dazzling defensive display of rookie utility infielder Freddy Sanchez. Freddy flashed some amazing glove work at third base and ended the game with ten assists, one shy of the major league record. After the seventh inning, during which he assisted on every play, the 34,562 on hand chanted, “Freddy! Freddy!” Freddy Sanchez, welcome to Boston.

Derek Lowe was the main reason for all the groundballs. Of Lowe’s 22 recorded outs, only one was a fly-ball, Biggio to lead off the game. When asked about his performance Lowe said, “[As opposed to earlier in the season] Now I’m getting ahead in the count and can work my sinker. Before, I had to play catch-up.” Only one sinker left the infield Saturday, a towering blast by Jeff Bagwell, his first in 140 at-bats, off the Vanilla Coke sign above the Green Monster. “Yeah, it was some good advertising,” quipped Lowe.

Jano awards

Batting: Reed Johnson of the Toronto Blue Jays. On Sunday, Reed “Howard” Johnson homered in the game’s first and last at-bats to give the Jays the win over the Cubs Sunday.

Honourable Mention: Eric “Ouch, It” Byrnes. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t do something worthy of a Jano. Byrnes has homered in three straight games to lead the A’s over the struggling Expos.

Pitching: Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner of the Houston Astros. These guys combined for a no-no-no-no-no-no hitter at Yankees stadium for the most pitchers ever used in a no hitter.

Oswalt had to leave the game after the first inning because of an injury, but the bullpen, which has carried the team so far this season, once again came through brilliantly, recording 11 Ks in eight innings of work, including a four K performance by Dotel in the eighth. Munro was the only pitcher to surrender some walks, but Brad Ausmus made sure to keep the situation under control.

Honourable Mention: Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins. This performance should be worthy of a full-blown Jano award any other week, but a no-hitter beats out a one-hitter. Dontrelle “Whatchu Talkin’ ’Bout” Willis one-hit the Mets Monday to beat Tom Glavine in a pitchers’ duel for the ages. Glavine pitched very well, giving up only a solo shot to Pudge, but Willis was too much for the terrible Mets offensive offense. And Willis’s control was on, walking only one batter all game and throwing the first complete game shutout of his young career.

Utility: Freddy Sanchez of the Boston Red Sox. You are the man, Freddy.

Honourable Mention: Milton Bradley of the Cleveland Indians and Paul Lo Duca of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a brief heated exchange of words Saturday, the two made up during Bradley’s first two at-bats. He tapped his bat on Lo Duca’s shin guards, and Lo Duca told him he overreacted to Bradley’s taking off of his batting gloves after he hit a homer. It’s good to know that good sportsmanship still exists in the big leagues, especially between two of the league’s best hitters.

Boner of the Week: New Jersey Devils fans. Okay, I know this is hockey, but this REALLY bothered me. When Jean Sebastian Giguere won the Conn Smythe trophy for MVP of the whole playoffs, the fans in New Jersey booed him. I do have respect for the Devils themselves who gave a hearty ovation for Giguere, but now I hate New Jersey even more than I already did. I thought that was hard to do.

Honourable Mention: Troy Glaus. No hits all week?! That’s not All-Star caliber.