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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Sea Change. When I woke this morning, the Red Sox were mired in a five game losing streak, each loss progressively more troubling than the one before. The Yankees sat atop the AL East, the Blue Jays hot on the Beantowners’ tail. The Nation panicked as the ship continued to sink. Here in the Washington, DC (the other nation’s capital), the weather reflected my mood – I considered shopping for a life boat.

Considering all this, developments of the past 18 hours are impressive and unexpected. The transformation atop the standings, the losing streak turning into a winning streak, and the return of sound pitching remind me why I have unusual hope summer. The Yankees melt down in Cincinnati was unanticipated. The Yanks have fueled their great run of the last several years by capitalizing on losing streaks of their rivals in Red. They make the most of Red Sox misfortunes year after year, and appear to pull out a win to break our will a dozen times each season.

But tonight the Bombers never closed Cincinnati’s lead and, in fact, blew a lead of their own. When, in the fifth inning Joe Castiglione called “Groundball, right side, Millar strays wide, bad throw…run scores,” Derek Lowe responded to the Sox newly ordained full-time first baseman habitual misplay by retiring the side.

Oh, and there was more. Todd Walker extended his hitting streak. Derek Lowe turned in a performance that evoked memories of 2002, throwing grounder after grounder, 17 of them in fact. The heart of the order got on base and knocked in runs. Nearly lost in the euphoria was BK Kim’s impressive start in the early game.

Sleep well, Sox fans. It’s been a beautiful day.

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Ouch. The scene in Chicago last night must have been downright devastating to Cubs fans. For me, with one swing of Sammy's corked bat the glorious moments of 1998 when he and McGwire were battling for the home run title just got a bit fuzzier.

The most pressing question at the moment: how long will Sosa be suspended? Jayson Stark reports on speculation that Sammy's suspension could be longer than that of average hacks with corked bats. I'm inclined to believe that's not a good idea. His harshest punishment is going to come in the tarnishing of his image.

Incidentally, the Chicago Tribune reports that when former Red Sox outfielder Troy O'Leary replaced Sosa in right, a fan in the bleachers yelled "I didn't pay $35 to see you play." You think Boston is a tough place to play, Troy?

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