Sam made an astute linguistic observation on our new bullpen toy:
I guess I could be saying that in a metaphorical Eric-Gagne-is-good-at-baseball sense, but I'm not. I mean literally, in French, the verb "gagner" mean "to gain or to win", and if you wanted to say that Eric Gagne had won the baseball game you would say that "Eric Gagne a gagnÃ© le jeu de baseball."
Also, I have a correction to my post yesterday. Yesterday I wrote, "I like Eric Gagne." I wrote it repeatedly. Last night after finally watching him pitch in a Red Sox uniform, I would like to amend that statement to I LOVE Eric Gagne.
He is just perfect. NESN showed his trot out to the mound from the bullpen rather than cutting to commercial (bless them) and just watching him trundle on out there in a Manny-baggy uniform with his mop of curly hair poking out around the bottom of his cap, I was instantly smitten. He just looks like a great big cuddly ball of fun. Also like something out of Peanuts.
But then he pitched, and it was time for my inevitable, "Holy Cow, this guy is pretty good, huh?" moment, along with my "how the hell did I not pay attention to this guy before" guilt over Red Sox myopia. Now that he's in a uniform that means I can see him, so to speak...oh my God. Love. Instant love.
His last two pitches to strike out Millar and Tejada (especially since Tejada proceeded to make a federal case out of it) were like him: a little quirky. Definitely different. And awesome. That last fastball to Millar seemed somehow to to skid backwards for a moment before hitting Mirabelli's glove. That's the only way I can describe it. It cut an unusual path through the air, ending at a point much lower to the ground than his release, but it didn't show even a hint of curve or slide.
And then, when he struck out Miguel Tejada? That pitch did slide, with an almost audible little "bloop!" at the end, looking at first like it was going to dive like a split and then plopping into the glove well within the strike zone (though not if you ask Miggy, but frankly he can kiss my ass).
The only blemish on Gagne's inning was, unfortunately a run to make the score 7-4 following an inexplicable mutual error along the left field line by Alex Cora and Mike Lowell, who normally are better than that. But after having converted it into a save situation and then converted the save, Gagne walked off the field victorious and having shown me enough to turn like into love, already.
The Red Sox apparently know that the way to my heart is relief pitchers. And having so colorful an addition to the bullpen, for me, is like Christmas morning.
In other news of bullpen awesomeness, The Precious was warming behind Gagne in the ninth. This little pissing contest they already have going can only, in my mind, lead to further awesomeness.
Some more random thoughts:
* While I'm genuinely concerned at the news I heard that D Drew's 17-month-old son has had to have "extensive" surgery, when it comes to baseball I'm finding myself wondering if Eric Hinske has had more clutch home runs this season when he's been in for Drew than Drew has had on a day-to-day basis. Also Dougie went deep! Back to back with Hinske. Good to see Julian apparently has been sharing some of his coffee and Red Bull with his teammates.
* I was gratified to see Jay Payton being picked upon defensively in the fourth inning. Ever since his parting shots on his way out of town in 2005 I haven't had the highest opinion of him. "How's that playing time treatin' ya, Jay?" I've asked gleefully more than once this series as another ball found the Monster behind him.
* Finally, it has been suggested--brilliantly, I might add--that Papi bear-hugs be auctioned off for charity. "How many people would toss some dough at the Jimmy Fund to get a Big Papi bear hug? Seriously, this could cure cancer," wrote commenter DC on Keep Your Sox On In Brooklyn. I can't believe it hasn't been though of before. I would probably pay irresponsible sums of money for such a thing myself. If he agreed to add a "Wha-heyyyy" to the hug I'd pay double. And I agree--the power of this as a charity promotion could potentially have the power to cure cancer and AIDS in one fell swoop. As long as Red Sox fans weren't limited to one hug per customer.