Oh yes, the game.
Roger Clemens is back in town. Mo Vaughn is back in the game. Tim Naehring is on hold. And Wilfredo Cordero is back in action.
Just another routine night at Fenway Park.
Bottom line: The Red Sox opened the second half of the season with a topsy-turvy 8-7, 11-inning win over the Blue Jays.
Nomar Garciaparra started it with a home run and ended it when Blue Jays reliever Mike Timlin walked him with the bases loaded. Timlin walked the last three batters of the game: first Darren Bragg intentionally to get at Jesus Tavarez with a force situation, then Tavarez and Garciaparra very unintentionally.
Garciaparra, one of four Red Sox with three hits in the game, took a big hack at Timlin’s first pitch, then waited him out while he threw four straight balls.
``The inning before, he was really throwing some great stuff out there and we were fortunate to get some hits,’’ Garciaparra said. ``That happens. You get out of your rhythm. Sometimes it happens to hitters.’’
Not so much last night. The Red Sox had 16 hits, the Blue Jays 11.
Last year the Red Sox came out of the All-Star break with a win over the Tigers, won four more in a row and eight of their first 10, and made things interesting in the American League East for a bit.
Now they’ll try to repeat the run.
``This is a good start,’’ said Vaughn, who returned with a big bang after missing 20 games following knee surgery. ``We’ve got a lot of battling to do.’’
Vaughn, Garciaparra, John Valentin, and Troy O’Leary all had three hits apiece. Garciaparra, Vaughn, and Valentin had home runs. Reggie Jefferson had two hits before giving way in the eighth to pinch hitter Cordero, who was greeted by boos and some cheers upon his return after having been suspended with pay in the wake of domestic abuse charges. He lined to second, ending the eighth, and struck out looking in the 10th as the DH.
Tom Gordon pitched seven solid innings, giving up five hits. And the Red Sox came back from a 5-1 hole created by a Joe Carter fifth-inning grand slam and from a 7-6 deficit in the 10th.
The downside after a three-run seventh had given them a 6-5 lead was that Heathcliff Slocumb couldn’t hold it in the ninth and blew his fourth save.
Manager Jimy Williams had little interest in downsides.
``There were, what, 30 hits in the game and it ends with bases on balls,’’ he said. ``It’s a good way for us to start the second half.’’
That was the theme of the game.
The Blue Jays scored one in the ninth to tie it, another in the 10th to go ahead. The Red Sox tied it up in the bottom of the 10th.
There were runners at first and second with two outs in the top half when Carlos Garcia scorched one down the first base line. Vaughn dived to knock it down into foul territory. By the time he got to the ball, Shawn Green had rounded third and was headed home.
Vaughn fired to Mike Stanley, but Green slid around the tag and was ruled safe, a call the Red Sox -- especially Butch Henry as he came off the mound at the end of the inning -- didn’t like a bit.
Garciaparra singled to lead off the Sox’ 10th and went to second on Valentin’s sacrifice bunt. Vaughn’s third hit, a single to center, scored Garciaparra to tie it.
With Vaughn’s two-run homer and a run-scoring single by Bragg, the Red Sox scored their three in the seventh.
Jim Corsi held it through the eighth and ran his scoreless streak to 14 1/3 innings, but Slocumb coughed it up in the ninth when Carter doubled in Otis Nixon with two outs.