Monday, July 26, 2004: And the world is suddenly a good and virtuous place again, where children laugh and women smile at me and beer flows like water and pork products are in abundance. For all of the sturm and drang, the Sox wrapped up the series against the Empire last night with a satisfying 9-6 win that nonetheless still had its moments of exasperation – most notably in the 1st inning, when we fell behind 2-0 because of our horrid defense, the 7th, when Lowe came out of the game after 6 and 2/3 innings and Timlin gave up a grand slam to Matsui to make it uncomfortably close, and the 8th, when for a while it looked as if we might piss away the lead. Fortunately we held on. The offense was prolific, especially in the first couple of innings, when they broke it open after back-to-back home runs by Johnny Damon (Kevin Youkilis predicted that one with almost eerie precision, as he was mic’ed up on ESPN and he could be heard calling for a three-run yakker off the Pesky Pole, which is precisely where Damon knocked it) and Mark Bellhorn. Kevin Millar continued his Lazarus act by hitting another home run. He went 10 for 13 in this series and he has hit six home runs in the last five games.

The fact is, for all of the inspiration that Saturday’s win provided for those of us who cheer for the team, a loss last night would have undone most all of that. Instead they went out with a mission and got it done. Foulke came out with one out in the 8th and stopped the bleeding on a bizarre play in which a Jeter line drive ricocheted off his leg and back to Mirabelli, who threw to first but nailed Cap’n Intangibles in the back. Miraculously the umpires went against their nature and ruled against the Yankees, deciding, rightly, that Jeter had been running inside the line the whole way and that he thus was guilty of interference. Rather than a single that drove in a run, then, Jeter was out. Foulke made quick work of the remaining batters and the Sox finished off the mini-home stand.
Tonight’s game and this whole series against he Orioles is crucial. It will be telling to see how well we recover from what was an emotionally draining series for all involved. The Orioles are 6-3 against us this year, and clearly we need to be able to beat teams like this if we plan either to start pulling away with the Wild Card or to make a run at the Yankees, against whom we face off 6 more times in games that could be of vital importance for the postseason picture. Pedro gets the start, which should bode well even if he got shelled last time out and even if the Orioles have proven to get the better of him all season. Pride coupled with momentum (Oh, I believe in momentum) should mean that we go in on a roll tonight. I want an easy win for once. I want us to go in, treat their starter like a batting practice pitcher, and let Pedro roll. It seems as if even our wins this year have been nail-biters. For once I want to go in and just assert our dominance as the clearly better team. Tonight provides a chance to do that, to build up some steam, and to get on a Morgan Magic-type of run. The rest of the season started on Saturday. We have faith.

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