Pedro, Arroyo Break Out the Brooms for Mariners
The Red Sox entered this weekend series looking for a little luck against the AL West leaders, the Seattle Mariners. They got more than a little.
Pedro Martinez returned from a severe bout of pharyngitis to make a surprise start, winning his tenth game of the season by a score of 8-1, and sweeping the Mariners in a four-game set at Fenway Park.
The game began optimistically as Johnny Damon made a leaping grab to rob Ichiro Suzuki of a leadoff hit. Things started to get shaky when DH Mark McLemore, starting instead of Seattle stalwart Edgar Martinez, was struck in the arm with a pitch and Bret Boone poked a ball just under the glove of third baseman Bill Mueller. But the trouble abated as Trot Nixon, much maligned for losing a ball in the sun on Saturday, made a routine catch look extraordinary. Pedro got out of the jam by causing CF Mike Cameron to pop out to Kevin “High Life” Millar.
The Sox answered in the top of the first in due kind, as Damon flied out to his counterpart Cameron. Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez stroked singles to right field in an attempt to rally, but DH David Ortiz popped out gently to shortstop Rey Sanchez to end the threat.
The Sox opened up the scoring in the third, by making Mariners’ pitcher Gil Meche pay his mistakes; after walking Damon, allowing him to advance to second on a wild pitch and to third on a Todd Walker grounder, Nomar brought him home with a single to center, and David Ortiz brought Nomar in with his career-high 20th home run of the year, becoming the sixth member of the Sox to hit 20 home runs in a season. It broke the previous team record of five, and brought them within reach of the major league record of seven, set most recently by the 2000 Toronto Blue Jays. The heat is on for third baseman Bill Mueller, who is the most likely candidate to be number seven with 16 homers on the season to date. Mueller missed a home run over the Green Monster by nearly two feet, but I doubt he’d complain about the two run double it became. Ortiz hit a two-run double of his own to left field to match his career high of four RBIs in a game.
Bad baserunning and coaching helped Pedro’s cause in the fourth. With men on first and second, Randy Winn hit a shot to right that landed for a base hit. But the runners were held to ensure they weren’t doubled off if the ball was caught. When Winn came around first thinking double, his inertia carried him to second base, where Cameron was standing. After being quickly tagged out by Millar, the next two went quietly to get out of the jam.
With a four-run fifth, Pedro got some of the run support lacking from many of his other starts this season. That’s why many are saying that despite a low number of wins, Pedro merits serious consideration for the Cy Young award. Other numbers support the idea. At game time he led the American League in strikeouts, and was second in ERA.
Recent callup Bronson Arroyo, who pitched a perfect game at AAA-Pawtucket this month, earned the first save of his career after pitching the final three innings.
The way the Sox are playing now, I can only hope that our cable situation is resolved before long and at least one sports channel is broadcast. With the potential for an exciting stretch run, and a close wild-card race between the Sox, Oakland A’s and possibly these Mariners, this community could be missing out on some great baseball.