Orioles 10, Red Sox 5
Wednesday night's game at Fenway Park included both the Baltimore Orioles' defensive play of the year and their offensive play of the year. It saw a rookie left-hander, Baltimore's Erik Bedard, outpitch the premier pitcher of this generation, Boston Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez. In short, it contained everything except the one thing everyone was waiting to see.
There were dozens of sublime moments in the Orioles' 10-5 thrashing of the Red Sox on Wednesday -- the team's third straight win -- and none of them had anything to do with Karim Garcia, the vilified Orioles right fielder and ex-New York Yankee who had a quiet night in his first Fenway Park appearance since an ugly encounter with Martinez here last October.
Martinez had not lost in more than two months, but the Orioles clobbered him for eight runs, Martinez's season-high. None of the runs was more memorable than the last.
With the Orioles leading by just two in the seventh inning, David Newhan, the Orioles' unstoppable hit machine, crushed a fastball off the wall in straightaway center field and turned it into a two-run homer when the Red Sox' spacey defenders botched the play as only they could.
The inside-the-park job, the Orioles' first in more than 13 years, was one of four hits on the night for Newhan, who is hitting a staggering .430 in 30 games with the team.
At this point, the Orioles can almost say they own Martinez (10-4), having won all three games this season in which he has started.
The dazzling defensive gem, meantime, was turned in by Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who ranged into left-center field to make a diving, over-the-shoulder grab of Jason Varitek's sinking liner in the first inning, saving a pair of runs for Bedard (4-4), who took Tejada's gift and carried it through the sixth inning.
"That was a big lift, very big," Manager Lee Mazzilli said of Tejada's catch. "He does some amazing things."
Tejada continues to be carried by the momentum from his title in the Home Run Derby last week, as he produced another dominant game. In addition to his highlight-reel catch, he drove in five runs with a triple in the fourth (that Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon misplayed) and singles in the sixth and ninth.
"We're having fun right now," Tejada said. "The team is hungry to win because we lost too many games in the first half."
Most of the crowd of 35,023 seemed to be on hand specifically for the hotly anticipated -- in a WWF sort of way -- matchup between Martinez and Garcia, which would be their first since October's memorable American League Championship Series and first since Martinez told ESPN this spring that he had "no respect" for Garcia.
In Game 3 of last season's ALCS, Martinez drilled Garcia in the back, touching off a sequence of events that ended with Martinez shoving Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground, and Garcia being accused of assaulting a grounds crew member in the Yankees' bullpen.
Before the game, Garcia played down the incident and said the media was "making too big a deal" about Wednesday night's matchup. "It's just a normal game," he said.
The big moment, such as it was, came in the third inning, as Garcia, accompanied by a chorus of boos, struck out on four pitches -- the one ball being a high-and-tight fastball.
While Garcia was going hitless in three at-bats against Martinez (and 0 for 5 in the game), his Orioles teammates were inflicting upon the Red Sox' ace a thorough beating, which was already bordering on shocking when Newhan took him off the wall in the top of the seventh.
Damon, the center fielder, crashed into the wall but recovered to make a strong throw toward cutoff man Bill Mueller, the second baseman. However, out of nowhere, left fielder Manny Ramirez, who was backing up Damon on the play, inexplicably moved in front of Mueller and cut off the throw -- even though he had to lunge behind him to do so, the effort causing him to fall down.
"It was a highlight catch," Damon said of Ramirez's unusual cutoff maneuver.
With the speedy Newhan circling the bases, Ramirez got the ball to shortstop Mark Bellhorn, who fired home too late to catch Newhan. Newhan crossed the plate with a slide and a smile, the first Oriole to hit an inside-the-park home run since Phil Bradley on June 8, 1990.
"That," Newhan said, "was kind of a weird relay there."
Orioles Notes: The team announced it will promote right-hander John Maine -- their top high-level pitching prospect -- to start Friday night in Baltimore against the Minnesota Twins.
Maine, 23, is 4-5 with a 4.26 ERA in 14 starts at Class AAA Ottawa, where he was promoted in May after going 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts at Class AA Bowie.
The Orioles will need to drop a player from both their 25-man and 40-man rosters to make room for Maine, the Orioles' minor league pitcher of the year in 2003. . . .
Needing bullpen help on the eve of a day-night doubleheader here Thursday, the Orioles purchased the contract of right-hander Todd Williams from Ottawa, where he was 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA in 14 games since signing a minor league deal in June. . . .
One night after both of their second basemen were forced to leave Tuesday's game in Kansas City with injuries, Brian Roberts (bruised finger) was back in the lineup, while Jerry Hairston (bruised rib cage) was available for pinch-hit duty and could return to the lineup Thursday.