Monday, April 28, 2003

Games 23, 24, and 25 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Anaheim Angels 2
Angels 3, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 6, Angels 4 (14)
Record: 16-9

Pedro's gonna be maaaad. Last night, the Sox ace left the game after 7 strong innings with a 4-2 lead. Two innings later, Brandon Lyon and Chad Fox had messed themselves, and the Sox were lucky to be headed for extra innings. David Ortiz and Jason Varitek hit back-to-back homers in the top of the 14th, and Jason Shiell - in only his second major league outing - shook off a basehit by Benji Gil to record his first major league save.

I watched the first 11 innings of this one before the sandman snuck up on me and dropped me where I sat. I woke up just in time to see the double play that ended that game, which enabled me to go to bed happy. The difference between watching Pedro pitch and suffering through bullpen-thrown innings is immense. I fully expect Pedro to strike out every batter, and I'm surprised any time the opponent gets a hit. Conversely, I fully expect every pitch thrown by any member of the bullpen to get hit out of the park. With Pedro on the hill and a 4-2 lead, I was sure the Sox would win. With Lyon and Fox on the hill and a 4-2 (and then 4-3) lead, I was sure that the Angels would win.

This then, may be the central issue with the Great Bullpen Experiment: while it is extremely logical and sensical in theory, the psychological impact on the team and the pitchers involved may make it impossible in practice. The Crappy Pitcher Corollary states that while logical and sensical in theory, the Sox' main problem is that the lack of talent in the bullpen makes practical execution impossible. If I'm Pedro today, I don't care which it is, but I know that I should damn well be 4-1 right now, instead of 2-1.


The Sox got great pitching in the first two games of the series, with Casey Fossum going 7 shutout innings to record the win in the first game, and John Burkett losing despite a complete game effort in the second. Outings like that from the 4 and 5 starters are a highly positive omen.

Nomar had been mired in the longest hitless streak of his career - 0 for 19 - before rapping two singles in last night's game. The fickle fandom is calling for his head, but I'm taking deep breaths and repeating, "It's only April. It's only April." over and over. Hell, Shea Hillenbrand leads the AL in RBI, and Johnny Damon has as many homers as Manny Ramirez. Remain calm.

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