It's a breeze as Red Sox sweep
Boston bats knock the wind out of White Sox in twinbill
CHICAGO -- The heavens cooperated, the fierce storms that were expected to make an encore appearance yesterday failing to materialize, but that wasn't a rain dance the Red Sox did before sweeping a day-night doubleheader from the White Sox.
The Red Sox were cutting the clubhouse rug to a song that may never appear on the Billboard charts, but appears destined to be heard on the Fenway Park sound system now that the team has assured itself of returning home next week still in first place, regardless of what the Yankees do.
It's called "Okajima, Oky-Doky," which is also the sum total of the lyrics of the song that Jeff Yamaguchi, the pitcher's translator, pumped into the clubhouse during Thursday night's interminable rain delay, the cause of yesterday's two-fer.
"The joint was jumping," said Sox manager Terry Francona, a condition that continued when the Red Sox pounded the White Sox, 11-3 and 10-1, outcomes that led White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to utter one of the more memorable loser's lines of this or any other season ("Twelve hours of my life I wasted and I'm never going to get them back.").
A Japanese music producer who has written numerous commercial jingles visited the Fens in May and was inspired to compose the Okajima song, Yamaguchi said. "The first time I heard it, I thought, 'This [is not good],' " Yamaguchi said, "but after listening to it over and over, I really liked it."
So, evidently, did Okajima's teammates, with David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis, among others, inspired to get up and dance. Call it coincidence, if you must, but both players were still in the groove as day turned into night, Ortiz whacking two home runs among his four hits and Youkilis hitting a three-run shot in Boston's first three-homer game since July 26.
"Seems like we've been here two days straight," said Ortiz, who also walked and scored twice in the last two innings of Game 1. "Nothing you can do about it. Seemed like we weren't even going to play when we got here this morning."
They not only played, but scored 10 or more runs twice in the same day for the first time in 50 years. "Got to save some for New York," said Ortiz, mindful that the Red Sox have three against the Bombers beginning Tuesday.
The Yankees had their own rain delay to contend with in Detroit, waiting four hours last night for the start of their game against the Tigers. And they didn't have "Okajima, Oky-Doky" to help make the time pass.
"You have to hear it," said Mike Lowell, who had three hits and scored twice in support of Josh Beckett's 16th win in Game 1, then doubled and walked and scored in both of Boston's big innings in the second game, a five-run fourth and four-run fifth, that made Curt Schilling's eighth win a breeze. "It's outstanding. It's unbelievable."
Genre? "I don't know what the hell it is," Lowell said, "but I was laughing at people. The unsung hero is Jeff, the translator."
Beckett had switched to country music before his start, and after surviving a rough first inning in which he gave up a two-out double to A.J. Pierzynski and walked three straight batters to force in a run, he recovered to take the game into the sixth inning, leaving with two on, two out, and the score 5-3, Josh Fields having taken him deep for two runs in the fifth.
But the newly recalled Javy Lopez got the last out of the sixth, Okajima worked a scoreless seventh, and the Red Sox broke it open with six runs in the last two innings. Jason Varitek hit a two-run home run in the ninth off former Sox lefthander Mike Myers to add to the two-run single he hit in a four-run fourth, and Mike Timlin pitched the final two innings in the 998th appearance of his career.
Varitek had beaten himself up after ending four innings in Wednesday's 2-1 loss at Tampa Bay, each time with two runners on base, saying the loss "begins with me." You'll be waiting a long time to hear him say a win began with him, but Beckett was there to give him his due.
"There are a million things you could say about Jason Varitek," said Beckett, who labored with his breaking stuff but still ran his record to 16-5, "and I guarantee you a million of them would be positive. Like playing  innings one day and coming back to catch the next day. That's one of the [guttiest] things I've ever seen."
The box score says the first game was played before a crowd of 30,581, but that was based on the tickets sold for the game that had been washed out Thursday night. The number of people in the seats for the makeup game? Lowell had a flashback.
"Thursday day game, Marlins-Pirates, with the threat of rain and everything," said the former Florida Marlin.
Beckett was reminded of his own experiences with the Marlins, who because of a hurricane in Miami had to play "home" games in U.S. Cellular Field against the then-Montreal Expos. The crowd, he said, was about the same size.
The empty seats didn't faze Francona.
"We were trying to create our own energy, because there wasn't a lot," he said. "I thought we did a good job."
Besides, Francona added, while playing before such small crowds might be an unknown to the Red Sox, it isn't to him.
"That's a real comfort zone for me," he said. "That's what it was like when I was in a game, so I had no problem with that. When I was in the game, people usually went home, it was raining, or there was a dust storm. I was OK with that."
Lowell said it was already a long day after playing the opener, which lasted 3 hours 47 minutes.
"But all of our games are important now," he said. "I don't think we can downplay the second game just because it's a long day. We did a great job, but now we have to separate it from tonight's game and win it. I wouldn't want to think we'd be complacent just because we won the first game."
Not to worry. Schilling spotted the White Sox a 1-0 lead on Juan Uribe's home run in the second, but Dustin Pedroia walked to open the fourth and Ortiz hit lefty John Danks's next pitch into the right-field seats for his 22d home run. The Red Sox tacked on three more runs in the inning, then Ortiz led off the fifth against Gavin Floyd with another first-pitch home run, this one to dead center. Two walks followed, then Youkilis connected for his fourth hit of the day, having singled twice after entering Game 1 as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
"I feel like we're starting to make a little bit of a push here," said Schilling, who gave up just three hits in six innings. "We're starting to play all facets of the game. We're playing really well and that bodes well."
Gordon Edes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.