Monday, September 22, 2003

Games 153-155 - Red Sox. Cough. Hack. Wheeze. Clonk.

Red Sox 2, Indians 0
Indians 13, Red Sox 4
Red Sox 2, Indians 0
AL East: 6 GB NYY
Wild Card: 1st - 2.5 up on Sea

Such beautiful symmetry this weekend, with identical 2-0 shutouts bracketing another hideous loss. These Sox continue to be the most resilient in my memory, but they also continue to drop games that they should have in the bag. They led the AAA Indians lineup, 4-1, in the bottom of the 7th inning on Saturday before the bottom absolutely dropped out. Derek Lowe, Scott Sauerbeck (shocked, I'm just shocked!), and Scott Williamson gave up 12 runs in the Tribe's last two innings to blow a golden opportunity.

I think this team will make it to the playoffs, but I know that they'll punt a game in the postseason that they should win. In a short series, where momentum is real, I worry that such a loss will haunt them much more greatly than in the regular season.

Of course, there's an old baseball proverb that goes, "Momentum's only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher." When Pedro Martinez is that guy, nobody in baseball has a better chance to win than the Sox. He is electric right now, dominating opponents and dragging the Sox by the scruffs of their necks. He went 7 yesterday, striking out 11 and allowing no runs. He left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th, striking out pinch-hitter Angel Santos in one of the greatest pitcher-batter mismatches in recent history. Santos, a September call-up, made the mistake of trying to play games against Pedro, repeatedly calling for time, and stepping out of the box. Pedro buzzed him inside on the first two pitches, not worrying about going down 2-0, and then whiffed him. After Santos swung and missed strike three, Pedro glared at him before walking off the mound. Lesson: don't tug on Superman's cape, youngster.

The ESPN broadcast team of Gary Thorne and Jeff Brantley served as a major irritant during the game. Thorne gleefully recounted the Sox' "cursed" history, excitedly wondering aloud about how many New Englanders were "having heart attacks" when the Indians loaded the bases in the 7th, and then postulating that the collective team failures were impacting the 2003 Sox. That story line is so very tired, and betrays a lack of any original thought, but the commentariat trots it out time and time again. Last time, boys and girls, the "Curse of the Bambino" was invented in the 1980s by Dan Shaughnessy as a vehicle to sell some books, and perpetuated by same Shaughnessy to sell more books and keep himself relevant. The Sox real "curse" was the wretched racism of Tom Yawkey, which cost the team a shot at both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. I'd like to punch Gary Thorne in the neck.

When B.H. Kim recorded the final out of the game yesterday, my first reaction was a fist-pump, and my second was a middle finger at Gary Thorne's disembodied voice. My third was, "Lotta Ball Left. Stay on Target."

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