This is a big game. They all are from here on out. In fact they have been for weeks. Unfortunately the Sox haven't been playing like it.
Last night's loss to the Angels dropped the South Side Nine (plus the other 31 dudes on the expanded roster) four games behind Detroit in the AL Central and 2 1/2 behind the pesky Twins in the Al wild-card race. Hence big game today.
Good thing for the Sox, they trot out Freddy Garcia, nom de Guerre: "Big Game" Freddy, not to be confused with "Big Game" James Worthy or "Big Shot" Bob (Robert) Horry. I can see why they call Worthy, a Hall-of-Famer, and Horry, a three-point assassin when it counts, Big Game and Big Shot. But why Freddy? Not sure.
Anyway, he can prove it today.
Strangely, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim counter with Joe "Eh, It's the Regular Season So I'm going to Loaf It" Saunders.
Today's lineups. Today's baseball ... soon.
Of course I knew The Waiter was still in the NBA--if you want to include Milwaukee in the NBA, that is. Oh, dear, someone forgot to tell the fine folks of Anaheim there was a game today. Meanwhile, as I write this sentence the A's are up 1-0 on the Twins heading into the ninth. This baby is underway as Pablo Ozuna takes a strike then waves at a pitch to fall behind 0-2 before grounding out to shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Tadahito Iguchi strikes out. Jermaine Dye strikes out to end the top half and, man, I know Robert Horry's nickname is "Big Shot." I fixed it in the lede, so no one will ever know. Nothing to see here...
The Twins lose. Jim Thome grounds out to first. Paul Konerko rips a single back through the box. Crede hits it in the right-center gap as Konerko lumbers and lumbers and lumbers and eventually slides in safely at home, just beating the throw. Crede triples in the game's first run. I wonder how many times Konerko's scored from first in his career. Juan Uribe blows a chance to get another run in by popping up. Izturis robs Anderson of a hit and the Sox another run with a diving stop at third for the final out.
Sox 1, Angels 0
Anderson, Garret hits it deep to center but Anderson, Brian is there on the track. Juan Rivera pops out in foul ground where Uribe gloves it. Adam Kennedy grounds out to Uribe. SFSG for BGF.
Sox 1, Angels 0
Saunders knocks down a wicked line drive by Sandy Alomar and then throws a one-hopper over to first. Safe. Saunders did a number of summersaults on that play. Ozuna lays down a nice bunt down the first-base line and is barely tagged out by first baseman Kendry Morales. Alomar moves up to second on the play. Iguchi goes the other way for an RBI double in the corner. Hawk gets on the Gooch there for not running hard and trying for a triple. Dye strikes out. Thome drives home the Gooch with a two-out single through the shift. Konerko bloops a single up the middle. Crede walks to load the bases. Uribe strikes out swining, but the Sox get a pair of runs.
Sox 3, Angels 0
Morales pops out to Crede. Here's Crede again, handling Mike Napoli's bouncer. Chone Figgins, The Fig flies out to Anderson in center. More cruising by BGF, who by the way should be called Day Game Freddy, since he pitches so well in the sunshine.
Sox 3, Angels 0
Anderson reaches with a single to left. Alomar strikes out. Ozuna draws a walk after a lengthy at-bat. Pitching coach Bud Black walks out to talk to Saunders as someone gets up in the Angels' pen. Sorry, Alomar struck out this inning, not Dye as I had written. And could Saunders take any longer? Come on! He walks the Gooch and here's Dye. Dye rips a double down the left-field line that one-hops into the crowd, scoring a pair. OK, that has to be it for this clown Saunders. He is painful to watch. Mike Scioscia does the honors and brings in lefty J.C. Romero, who may or may not have been an original member of 'N Sync. Here's Thome who drives the first pitch right at Figgins in center to drive home Iguchi. And that's it for Romero. One pitch, one hit, one inherited runner scored. Righty Kevin Gregg enters to face Konerko. Konerko hits the first pitch this guy throws over Figgins' head in center to knock home Dye. Is Scioscia going to lift Gregg now? No, he'll face Crede with two out and Konerko on second. Crede pops out to Cabera to end a four-run fourth for the Sox.
Sox 7, Angels 0
Izturis flies out. Cabrera strikes out. Guerrero grounds the first pitch slowly to the Gooch and bring on some more American Idol commercials. Freddy is rolling.
Sox 7, Angels 0
Uribe, the only guy in the lineup not to reach base today, stays that way as he pops out to the catcher. Anderson flies out to center. Alomar strikes out looking to end a quick top half.
OK, remind again who this toolshed Greg Behrendt is? They keep running commercials for his new talk show that looks beyond brutal. Garret Anderson rolls out to Konerko. Rivera swings at a pitch near his eyes and lofts it to Dye for the second out. Kennedy flies out to Ozuna in left and I'm going to avoid pointing out the obvious and instead point you to this Richard Roeper column about how Behrendt rolls, sent by reader Joseph Finn.
Sox 7, Angels 0
As so often happens, a guy who makes a routine defensive play in the top half of the inning, leads off and bounces into a routine grounder in the bottom half (See: Pablo Ozuna). Iguchi walks. Dye pops out to Morales right in front of the Sox's dugout. Thome walks. Konerko bloops a single to right and somehow Iguchi got caught up between third and home. What the...? Oh, dear, Hawk has lost it. I'm not sure what happened there but it looked like he was going to score easily and then all of a sudden he stopped. I bet they deked him like the ball was caught. But there were two outs, so who knows. Regardless, inning over. OK, the replay shows he just stopped. Never seen it before. That's two uncharacteristic base running errors today.
Ryan Sweeney takes over in left for Ozuna. Morales flies out to Anderson and Napoli grounds Konerko. Figgins grounds to Iguchi. Going back to the top half, the replay of Ozzie waving in Iguchi is precious.
Sox 7 (should be 8), Angels 0
Greg Jones is the Angels' new pitcher and Crede flies out to Rivera in right. Uribe takes a shot at the faux rocks in left but is well short and Garett Anderson takes care of it. Since those rocks look like Baboon Island at the Zoo they really should let a bunch of monkeys sun themselves out there. Brian Anderson hustles into second with a double just beating the throw from right. He's having a good game. Alomar flies out to Rivera just in foul ground. We stretch.
Oh, heart be still, the Brewers and Pirates are playing a double-header today. Izturis lines out to Konerko. OK, we've established the fact that I can't tell the difference between Jermaine Dye and Sandy Alomar. Cabrera flies out to Sweeney and the ball nearly squirted out of his glove. Freddy goes 3-1 to Vlad before Vlad grounds out to Uribe. It's on for real now. The Sox likely won't see Guerrero again today.
Sox 7, Angels 0
I'm starting to get nervous. Sweeney bounces out to second. Iguchi singles to left. Dye follows with a single of his own and Iguchi manages to run all the way to second without stopping. Thome rolls one to the first baseman Morales, who drops the ball trying to throw to second. Bases loaded and one out for Konerko, who knocks home Iguchi with a flyball to right. Jerry Owens will run for Thome. Crede bounces out to second.
Sox 8, Angels 0
Garett Anderson leads off the eighth for the Angels and takes a strike. Garcia strikes him out with a nasty splitter. Rivera chases a pitch way out of the zone for strike two before bouncing out to Uribe. Sox fans in the office, their heads are starting to peek over the walls of their cubicles. Kennedy sends one deep...but foul. The count goes full. Aw, man, Kennedy singles to center. A clean hit, which beats someone like Chone Figgins coming up there and laying down a bunt hit. Morales lines out to Anderson in center. But one heckuva an effort by Garcia to throw 7 2/3 perfect innings. Perhaps this is why they call him Big Game Freddy, Adam.
Sox 8, Angels 0
Chris Bootcheck (yes, you read that right) is the Angels' new pitcher. Tommy Murphy comes on to play right and some guy whose name I didn't catch will play short. Uribe tests the young Murphy immediately and the young Murphy slides but fails to catch what becomes a ground-rule double. Anderson moves Uribe over to third with a flyball to right. The shortstop boots an Alomar grounder allowing Uribe to score. Sweeney follows with a single. Alex Cintron hits for Iguchi and bounces into a double play.
Sox 9, Angels 0
That's it for BGF. Here's Neal Cotts with a nine-run cushion. He gets Napoli. Figgins flies out to right. Tim Salmon will never retire. Here he is to pinch hit. He pops out to right and Neal Cotts has thrown a perfect ninth! Perfect ninth inning for Neal Cotts! Perfect ninth! Oh, wait...
Final: Sox 9, Angels 0
Freddy Garcia shows up big time and nearly tosses a perfect game. Regardless, it got the job done as the Sox move 1 1/2 back of the Twins and 3 1/2 back of the Tigers, who play host to the Rangers tonight. Thanks for reading, everyone. That was fun and quite nerve wracking. I won't be able to say the same about the Cubs game I have to do tomorrow.