Friday, May 05, 2006

Woolly Bully

Games 27 & 28 - Red Sox

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6
Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4
Record: 16-12

The Sox plated 5 in the bottom of the 1st last night, and I thought I was well on the way to dodging a marital spat. Then, the Sox' middle relief corps got involved, and damn near cost me my wife, my dog, and my pickup truck. It's possible that some of that last sentence is poetic license.

What is true, though, is that my wife turned to me at 8:50 or so last night with sad, puppydog eyes and said, "Can we please watch The Office tonight?". After a quick mental calculation, and calmed by the fact that the Sox led, 5-1, on their way to a 7-1 lead, I acquiesced.

As I flipped back to the game on a commercial break, Rudy Seanez (the Dwight Schrute of the Sox - at least in terms of annoying habits, primarily his penchant for giving up mammoth homeruns. 4 in less than 10 innings of work this season, to be precise.) served up a heaping helping of gopher to Troy Glaus in the top of the 8th. Terry Francona countered by bringing Julian Tavarez to hold the line in the 9th, but Eric Hinske made things interesting by drilling a ball over the Sox' bullpen to make it 7-4. After Tavarez yielded another baserunner, the Sox were forced to go with young gun Jonathan Papelbon.

One day after Papelbon finally succumbed to the same disease as the rest of the bullpen and gacked up his first run of the season, 36,000 Fenway faithful held their breath as the young fireballer entered the game. Fears were assuaged momentarily as Russ Adams went down on strikes, but Frank Catalanotto (natch) singled to bring Vernon Wells to the plate as the tying run.

Midway through Wells' at bat, Papelbon landed awkwardly on his left foot, jumping gingerly off the mound. The Sox training staff sprinted from the dugout, and cardiac trauma centers from Bangor to the Berkshires shifted into high gear. Somehow, I can't see the same reaction from the Sox medical staff should Seanez blow a hammy on the mound - more of a mild saunter, perhaps. Papelbon shook off the attention, declining even to throw a warm-up pitch, and closed out Wells on a meek comebacker to end the game and put an end to far more drama than this game needed.

Really strong effort by Matt Clement, who gave up just 2 hits and 1 run through 6. Youks hit his 2nd homer of the year, to give the Sox the 7-1 edge - and it was a bomb, clearing the Monster seats. 2 doubles by Mike Lowell give increasing credence to the idea that he may actually not be toast. Solid, workmanlike effort, except for the bullpen.

Which leads us to Wednesday, and thank God for the glories of recaptured youth, because beer league softball kept me from having to witness Keith Foulke's meltdown, and Papelbon's first remotely human moment of the season. Not much to say, other than to lament again the soft underbelly of the Red Sox bullpen and their seeming inability to dent the Blue Jays.

Last day today at my current job after nearly 8 years, so just an abbreviated post here - a colleague just handed me a bottle of 12 year-old Macallan, so the words may be flowing later. A final note of irritation in closing - regional cable here in DC is blacking out tonight's Sox/Orioles game, so it won't be available on the MLB package, nor on Comcast. Somewhere, Peter Angelos is cackling.

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