Friday, July 9, 2004: The beat goes on, with Captain Caveman (my favorite nickname of the generally imaginationless comments dopey announcers have made about the hirsute centerfielder), Johnny Damon, leading the way on offense while Bronson Arroyo, he of the hardest luck in baseball this season, pitched a masterful eight innings of shutout ball against the Rangers.
I was able to watch the game from what I suspect will become my favorite sportsbar in Odessa, Zucci’s. It’s a good, dark bar with several screens and even NTN trivia. Since we were playing the rangers I was in the minority, though most people were not all that interested in the game. Philistines. In any case, I am hoping for a sweep for the obvious reasons, but also because I made a bet with one of the guys last night, who insisted that the Red Sox are incapable of sweeping this Rangers team.
We won 7-0. The bats are still hot, with Damon continuing his 14 game hitting streak. He is now hitting .319, and has gone an electrifying 19 for 32 in the last six games. He’s scored in every game but one in the last 14 and he has five home runs in his last ten games, including two last night. The appreciative fans cheered until he gave a curtain call after the second of the two solo shots, waving his cap and revealing his shaggy joyousness to all.
Even Kevin Millar is contributing. He played a legitimately solid first base yesterday and he continues to improve at the plate. He also stole a base, the fifth of his career.
But if there was one truly auspicious sign, perhaps it was that Arroyo finally got a win, something he had not done since May 21. He kept Texas hitters off balance all night with an array of pitches, all of which were hitting their spots. He only gave up three hits, two in the first inning, and he was hitting in the low 90s with his fastball. If Arroyo can pitch like this against the best hitting team in baseball, we really might be set at starter, especially if Lowe can somehow pitch his way out of this slump. He goes tonight against a team that will be looking for redemption.
It is also rumor time in baseball, as the end of July and the trading deadline approaches and teams need to decide if they can win or not. Two of the most interesting rumors involve the Sox pursuing Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Neither is going to happen, in my estimation. No way Drayton McLain, the Astros owner, trades Roger. And I think we won’t get anywhere with Johnson, who may or may not even be on the market. The Yankees are said to be interested too (somehow Steinbrenner managed to say he would love to get Johnson for hi staff and did not get nailed for tampering, yet our owners get chided when they refer to the Yankees as the “Evil Empire.” It would be nice if Selig would get his hands out of Steinbrenner’s pants long enough to realize the rampant hypocrisy of how he deals with them and how he deals with everybody else. In any case, I would love to see Johnson in a Sox uniform, but I do not know what we could give for him, and while it would be nice, I’m not convinced it is necessary. And I am not sure Johnson would waive his no-trade clause to pitch in Boston – apparently the big ugly bastard has declared that he’d prefer living in New York over Boston.
In any case, there are two games before the All Star break (Schilling has pulled out of the game to save wear on his ankles and to get time with his family, a decision for which I am thankful) and it would be really nice to continue this roll for the next two games. We need Lowe to come through tonight – hopefully whatever Arroyo has is contagious – and Waker to do so tomorrow. The bats should take care of themselves.

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