The Battle for Second, Part II
On Saturday afternoon, we were back down at the Rogers Centre for Act II of the Battle for Second Place. It’s late, and I’m running on fumes, so just so quick observations from the action:
- Devern Hansack took the mound for the Bosox. Who? Ya, don’t worry. Plenty of people were left scrambling for their Baseball America Prospect Handbook for this one. The 28-year-old really did come out of nowhere this year, pitching well at Double-A Portland and then getting rewarded by the Bosox with his first major league start. And wouldn’t you know it? He pitched very well. He threw strikes, not walking a single batter through five, and let his defense do its thing. Hansack features a fastball in the 91 to 93 mph range and a good slider, but he had trouble getting his split-fingered fastball over the plate. So at best he looks like a future reliever given his modest two-pitch repertoire. But Hansack did not look intimidated in the least and really impressed me, making just two mistakes that were deposited back-to-back over the wall for solo shots.
- Dustin Pedroia, all (supposed) 5’9″ of him, cranked a home run to lead off the game. The kid’s got a bit off pop.
- David Ortiz had a check swing single down the third base line against the shift. I love when he does that. This is one superstar slugger who’s ego isn’t so big that he won’t do what’s in the best interest of the team.
- In the top of the seventh, we had a Manny sighting. Despite “Dr.” Julian Tavarez’s declaration that Ramirez would not be getting another at-bat this year, there he was, whipping the pro-Boston crowd into a frenzy. I have never seen this kind of excitement at the Dome/Rogers Centre for a non-playoff game. In a key situation in the game, with the Bosox down a run and the tying run on first with one out, the crowd had an electricity to it rarely seen in Toronto. I mean, everyone was on their feet and there were actually camera flash bulbs popping off all over the stands for Manny. I was shocked! It was as if Elvis was batting or something. Manny walked, was replaced by a pinch runner, and returned to the bench. A little anticlimatic, but what a moment that was when he emerged from the dugout. Love him or hate him, but this man has serious star power.
- Kevin Youkilis redeemed himself after his lacklustre fielding showing Friday with an unbelievable running catch, twisting his body to snare a sure RBI double by Lyle Overbay. Of course, Sunday was less than impressive, and we’ll fill you in on that debacle tomorrow.
- Jason Varitek looks lost with the stick. He’s taking horrible swings.
- Wily Mo Pena finally took the bat off his shoulder, with mixed results. He smoked a solid single in the second inning but then fanned in the fourth and seventh (swinging, at least) before hitting a cheesy infield fly to end the eighth with two runners in scoring position.