Cardinals spoil Red Sox championship celebration for the 17-time NBA champion Celtics


Cardinals spoil Red Sox championship celebration for the 17-time NBA champion Celtics

(June 18, 2008) – The 2008 NBA Finals MVP and The Truth, Paul Pierce did something not too many Red Sox pitchers do. Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, the Celtics captain jokingly shook off the Red Sox captain three times before delivering a high fastball that glanced off Jason Varitek’s glove. With the newly crowned World Champions in the house, the Sox fell one run short, 5-4, of a ninth inning come-from-behind victory to their special Friday Night guests.

The Sox got on the board early in the bottom of the second when Manny Ramirez – who was the night’s designated hitter – led off the inning with a walk. Third baseman Mike Lowell would reach on starting shortstop Cesar Izturis’s fielding error, thus sending Ramirez onto second. After Kevin Youkilis struck out on a low fastball by Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse, center fielder Coco Crisp lined a single into left for the first hit against the St. Louis right hander. Shortstop Julio Lugo lifted a fly ball to deep center allowing Ramirez to score easily from third base.

Sox starter Tim Wakefield was cruising along before he ran into last minute addition to the St. Louis line up, catcher Jason LaRue in the fifth. LaRue led off the visitor’s half of the inning with his second homerun of the season that just barely made it over the Green Monster.

Two innings later the red birds jumped out to their first lead of the game on Lugo’s 15th and 16th errors of the season in the top of the sixth. After former pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel led of the inning with a double of the wall in center, third baseman Troy Glaus reached on Lugo’s wild throw that Youkilis could not corral. His defensive woes continued when he did his best Chuck Knoblauch impersonation on a double play attempt by throwing the ball to fence of the Red Sox dugout, allowing Ankiel to cross the plate with the go-ahead.

Lugo’s 16th error of the season looked familiar to the Celtics who were honored before the game. They had seen something similar just a week ago. Lugo’s errant throw to Wakefield at first resembled Kobe Bryant’s pass to Pau Gasol in the third quarter of Game Four that found itself in the row of photographers for the Celtics ball instead of in the basket for two points.

But Lugo would atone for his two mistakes with his first homerun of the season the Sox half of the inning. With two outs in the inning the Sox starting shortstop lifted a a pitch from Lohse that ended up in the last row of the Monster seats.

The seventh inning would be Wakefield’s last inning of work. Jared Luner’s red birds got to the knuckleballer again and once again it was started by LaRue. The Cardinals catcher lined a base hit into left field to lead off the inning before being drove in on Skip Shumaker’s fifth homerun of the season into the St. Louis bullpen. Not only did it give the Cardinals the 4-2 lead it also was the first homerun of the game that was not a solo shot. The seventh was also Wakefield’s last inning of work where he allowed four runs – three earned – on six hits while walking three and striking out four.

Boston would cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning when Lohse was out of the game. The Cardinals right hander allowed just two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four. Left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury lined his first hit and only hit of the game into left field to lead of the inning against St. Louis left hander Randy Flores. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia followed with a base hit of his own before Flores walked Drew on four pitches before it was the night for the Cardinal lefty.

Long time St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa called upon the 39-year-old Russ Springer to get out of the no-out mess Flores left behind. But it was not an easy task for the right handed veteran to do because he was facing the Ramirez, who drives in runs like my sister buys shoes, with the bases loaded and nobody out. Ramirez grounded into a double play for the first two outs of the inning but with the Cardinal defense playing back Ellsbury was able to cross the plate to cut the lead to 4-3 and send Drew to third. The inning ended with Drew being stranded at third after Springer struck out Lowell to end the threat.

After the Cardinals tacked on an additional run in the eighth, the Sox were down to their last at-bat in the bottom of the ninth against closer Ryan Franklin. In Franklin’s second inning of work, he was facing the top of the Red Sox batting order. The Sox hoped to provide a come-from-behind victory on the night the team honored the Celtics winning their 17th NBA Title (third most in all of professional sports).

Franklin got Ellsbury to fly out to right on the first pitch, which turned out to be an important at-bat. If the Sox rookie got on base in the ninth it would have changed the entire complexion of the inning. But he did not. So with one out Pedroia lined a double off the left field wall. After Drew struck out looking and Ramirez walked with two outs, Lowell lined an RBI single past the dive of shortstop Brendan Ryan – who came into the game in the fourth replacing Izturis – scoring Pedroia and cutting the St. Louis lead back to one. The Sox had something going with Ramirez at third as the tying run, Lowell at first as the winning run and Youkilis at the dish. They were so close that you could almost feel they were going to pull of a win but Youkilis just got under a pitch from Franklin and hit a lazy fly to Schumaker in right. It would have been nice to see a come-from-behind win for the Sox and then see Terry Francona light up a nice cigar in honor of the late, great Red Auerbach, who was as much apart of championship banner #17 as he was in any of the rest.

It is the Sox on Fox tomorrow afternoon and begins with Daisuke Matsuzaka making his first start after missing the last 24 games with a mild strain of the right rotator cuff. Matsuzaka’s last start came against the Seattle Mariners on May 27 where he was pulled after four innings of work allowing three runs – two earned – on four hits while striking out two. Many thought he was taken out of the game with a left oblique injury since he reached for his left side after recording the final out of the fourth inning at first base but it was reported he suffered from a shoulder injury after the game.

The Sox right hander who is vying for his ninth win of the season and still undefeated with a 2.53 ERA, will be opposed by the Cardinals 24-year-old rookie, Mitchell Boggs. Making just his third start of his major league career, Boggs is 1-0 with a 5.56 ERA, three strike outs, five walks and a 1.59 WHIP. He made his major league debut on Friday June 6 coming out of the Cardinals bullpen to pitch two innings in St. Louis’s 6-1 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Boggs is coming off a no-decision against the Philadelphia Phillies where he went only 4.1 innings allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three and walking two. But the Cardinals would squeak out the 7-6 win.

WIN: Kyle Lohse (9-2)

LOSS: Tim Wakefield (4-5)

SAVE: Ryan Franklin (10)


Game Notes:

The start of the game was delayed one hour 10 minutes due to rain.

Former pitcher now turned outfielder, Rick Ankiel got the first hit against the Tim Wakefield when he lined a base hit into left to lead off the second inning for the Cardinals.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Jason LaRue, St. LOUIS -------- 2-4 Homerun, Single, RBI
  1. Skip Schumaker St. LOUIS ----- 1-4 Homerun 2 RBIs
  1. Julio Lugo, BOSTON ------------ 1-2 Homerun, 2 RBIs

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