What a ballgame last night.
The home team overcame deficits of 4-0 and 9-6, then hung on in the ninth to win. They held Man-Ram nearly hitless but couldn't get Dustin Pedroia out. They rocked Bosox starter Jon Lester -- particularly Mark Loretta, who hit the first pitch he saw out of the park, after Lester had gotten struck on a comebacker and limped around the mound before resuming. They blasted reliever Manny Delcarmen in the eighth, in particular Lance Berkman, who had whiffed three times against Lester but turned around as a left-hander and delivered the game-winner.
Delcarmen entered in the eighth ("a short inning and I probably would have gone out for the ninth") and that dominance didn't last another batter. Ty Wigginton, the former Tampa Bay Ray, led off the bottom of the eighth with a tying, opposite-field home run, and Lance Berkman, who had been tied up in knots by Jon Lester in whiffing his first three at-bats, sliced an opposite-field, two-run double to climax an improbable comeback.
"I just looked at the video," Delcarmen said. "The pitch to Wigginton was away, and he just got his bat out there. When he hit it, I thought there was no way it had the height to go out. A 3-and-2 pitch, I didn't want to walk him with anything offspeed."
Darin Erstad followed by lining a pinch single ("A hanging curveball," said Delcarmen), and Brad Ausmus, the Dartmouth grad, showed that at 39 he can still drop down a bunt, sacrificing Erstad to second after being sent to pinch hit by manager Cecil Cooper.
Delcarmen struck out Michael Bourn, but walked Hunter Pence before Berkman delivered.
"We made some mistakes out over the plate and we about paid for every one of them," said Sox manager Terry Francona.
A full house of 43,000+ fans, split pretty evenly, screamed and chanted and stood throughout the ninth, yelling with the strikeout of Manny by Astros closer Jose Valverde, groaning with the Crawford Boxes home run shot by Mike Lowell, and rejoicing on the K's of Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek.
The pre-game New England buffet, complete with brats and chowdah and prime rib and Italian sausage and pasta and baked beans and Boston creme pie -- was very nearly as spectacular as the baseball playing.
If you have a ticket to this afternoon's matinee, you can't do much better than what we did last night for food, fun and games.