"It's not a masterpiece, but it'll be hard to find a more exciting game at Fenway Park than this thing," Remy said in the afterglow of Youkilis' three-run Monster shot to score the 11,734th run of this game.
Yes. He called it a "thing."
Let's review what happened here, shall we?
- Our knuckleballer who played with Roger Clemens is feeling his age, and has been put on the DL with shoulder problems. So we fired up the 95 Express and brought in a fresh new knuckleballer from Triple A.
- After a clean debut inning, that knuckleballer was spotted 10, count 'em, 10 runs, six of them off the bat of Big Papi, who hit two three-run homers in the inning. Two! Three! Run! Homers! (Technically one of them should've been a double, but baseball does not yet have instant replay, and so I will choose to ignore it).
- Zink gave two back in the top of the second, but I thought, no sweat, kid. You've already proven that Tim Wakefield Disease does not afflict all knuckleballers.
- Incredibly, Scott Feldman, the pitcher who'd already given up double-digits staggered into the third inning, where he was replaced by Josh Rupe, who promptly walked in another Sox run.
- The rookie knuckleballer's fifth inning went like this: double, groundout, wild pitch, single, single, double, double, double, Javy Lopez.
- With the lead cut in half, Lopez kept the good times rollin' for Texas, giving up a run to the first batter he saw (Chris Davis).
- David Aardsma "relieved" Lopez, and relieved the bases of their runners by surrendering a three-run homer to Ian Kinsler. I began to brainstorm designs for pirate-costumed voodoo dolls.
- But the next inning, Youkilis said, so there, padding the Red Sox' lead again with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Okay, I figured. That's the end of this foolishness.
- But the bullpen atrocities continued with Manny Delcarmen, who was so unmitigatedly abhorrent in the sixth inning that it prompted me to email Sam to request that she Photoshop his head onto a goat's body for me. That sixth inning ended with the Rangers ahead. Rangers! Ahead!
- The Sox offense went into road-trip mode in the top of the seventh, while Delcarmen, inexplicably back out on the mound EVER AGAIN for the Sox after the previous inning's performance, helpfully tacked on another run for the Rangers.
- Okajima continued the bullpen merry-go-round, uncorking a wild pitch and plunking Chris Davis before finally, by the skin of his fingernails, clawing his way to the third! out! of the inning!
- The bullpen kept pulling one way, and Kevin Youkilis singlehandedly kept pulling in the other direction, responding once again by supplying a fielder's choice grounder that scored Pedroia for the game's 31st run.
- Okajima, emboldened by remembering what the third out looks like, managed to put in a scoreless inning for Boston. When punishments are meted out for tonight's performance among the "relievers", I move that Oki's sentence be commuted from 40 lashes to hard labor.
- With the bullpen finally an advantage for their own team, Pedroia got to work again in the eighth - Pedroia with a double that scored Ellsbury for the tying, 32nd run. (It's this point I think Francona was talking about when he mentioned kicking a field goal in his press conference.)
- Suddenly, it was absolutely critical that we win this disheveled mess of a game. Suddenly, this game was Saying Something About the Team. And guess who was up again? Youkilis, who launched a pitch from Frank Francisco directly into the Monster Seats for three runs.
- About halfway down the first-base line, Youkilis looked toward the home dugout and hollered in triumph to his teammates, a moment that instantly became one of the most memorable of the season.
- Shortly after his victory lap, he was spotted by the NESN camera in the dugout, smiling mischievously in the midst of a conversation I'd have killed to overhear:
Update: Sam's response:
- Youkilis then proceeded to commit an error, his second of the night at two different bases, while playing third in the top of the ninth (replacing an INJURED Mike Lowell arrrggh). Not only was this the most runs scored in a Sox game this season, but tonight's total surpassed the number of errors Youkilis committed in the entirety of last year.
- The runner who reached on that error, Marlon Byrd, scored the Rangers' 17th run on a pinch-hit gap shot by Brandon Boggs off Papelbon. I proceeded to start gnawing on my fingers. The tying run stood at the plate yet again.
- Jonathan turned to face that tying run, in the person of Chris Davis. With two strikes on two foul balls, he rubbed up the ball slowly, patiently, circling the mound counterclockwise. The Fenway crowd clapped deliriously. His next pitch was a splitter that Davis didn't chase. Again, Papelbon rubbed and circled. Again, he went through his elaborate pre-pitch adjustments. On his next pitch, Davis connected, and my heart crawled up next to my tonsils before the hit faded into a little infield fly, which Dustin Pedroia softly gloved.
- 9 innings. 36 runs. 3 lead changes. 37 hits. 16 extra-base hits. 4 three run homers - 3 of them by Ortiz and Youkilis, who combined for 11 RBI on the night. 11 pitchers. 400 pitches. And a partridge in a freakin' pear tree.
In the end, it's still hard to know just what to say about this game, except for the phrase that I hollered out as Papi's second first-inning dinger headed for the bullpen, that my father texted me in the midst of the bullpen carnage, and that Don Orsillo yelled as Youkilis's moon shot took off toward the Mass Pike: Are you kidding me?