I just got home from last night's game. No way I was going to leave Camden Yards until Manny Ramirez finished his at-bat with Jim Johnson.
The commute in morning rush hour was brutal.
Ramirez kept fouling off fastball after fastball, with the occasional curveball mixed in. A few reporters in press row conceded that Johnson wasn't going to get a fastball past Ramirez. That's not how the Red Sox's left fielder was going to be retired with the bases loaded and none out – if he was going to be retired.
Finally, Ramirez bounced Johnson's 10th pitch – another fastball – to the mound. Johnson threw home for the force, catcher Guillermo Quiroz threw to first for the double play, and Camden Yards exploded.
Johnson got Mike Lowell to fly out, after getting a strike on a 2-0 curveball, and calmly walked off the mound. No fist pump, no chest tap, no primal scream, no look to the heavens. Johnson acted as though he just finished throwing a batting practice session in spring training and was headed to the clubhouse to make a sandwich.
Johnson's fastball topped out at 97 mph during his battle with Ramirez. That's more velocity than I remember him having in previous years. Either the gun is fast or Johnson has added a little giddy-up to his heater.
So did you turn up the bill of your cap after George Sherrill recorded the last out? I'll really be impressed if you did it while watching the game at home – and especially if you did it while watching in bed.
Don't be in a rush to leave the ballpark after a win. Stay around long enough to check out the video that the Orioles recorded during the last homestand – with Kevin Millar and teammates lip-syncing the Orioles Magic song. It's priceless.
Millar is shown on an empty field at the beginning, mouthing the words to the opening line. Then he turns toward the dugout, where Sherrill, Adam Jones, Jeremy Guthrie, Dennis Sarfate and Adam Loewen are leaning against the railing wearing foam No. 1 fingers on their hands, moving them in rhythmically to the music. Later, we see Jones "playing" the drums and Loewen on the keyboard.
It reminds me of the days when Rick Dempsey sang "Old Time Rock and Roll," with Eddie Murray on the drums and Ralph Salvon playing the sax.
Today's game includes an interesting subplot. Remember how Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia ripped Daniel Cabrera on Sept. 7 after almost taking a fastball to the head.
Allow me to refresh your memory:
"The guy is an idiot," Pedroia said, "I dropped my bat. It kind of freaked me out. I was upset they took him out of the game. He is good to hit. He's 9-15. The guy (stinks)."
Cabrera denied throwing intentionally at Pedroia, saying the ball slipped out of his hand, but nobody was buying it – least of all Dustin Pedroia.. Cabrera was suspended six games, in part for inviting the entire Red Sox dugout to join him on the mound, in part for almost piercing Pedroia's ear. It was the type of meltdown that defined Cabrera as much as his 6-foot-9 frame and blazing fastball. But it's also been removed from his repertoire in 2008.
I'll let my good friend, Associated Press reporter David Ginsburg, tell the story.
Strange stat: Nick Markakis is batting .212 with runners in scoring position, including .167 with less than two outs.