Games 128 through 131 – Red Sox
Red Sox 11, White Sox 3
Red Sox 10, White Sox 1
Red Sox 14, White Sox 2
Red Sox 11, White Sox 1
Several times this weekend I started to chronicle this series, and each time the voice of Chris Farley as Tommy Flanagan stopped me. Tommy Boy’s earnest recounting of the smothering of too many sales opportunities through his overeager exuberance kept me away, concerned that I’d jinx the whole thing if I talked about it. In retrospect, that’s a pretty silly concern – the White Sox certainly weren’t going to let a little thing like karma stop them from waving the pallid flag of fear and capitulation.
This is a Red Sox blog, so the mood here is euphoric. Were I a fan of the Pale Hose, I’m quite sure that yesterday’s would be the last game I watched this season. Their performance in all four games was as gutless as any I’ve seen from a professional ballclub. From the moment they failed to score the tying run in 6th and 7th innings of the series’ first game, any minor adversity caused the Chicago 9 to turn tail and run. Or in the case of A.J. Pierszynski in yesterday’s game, turn tail and not run out a grounder.
Since I’m not a fan of Ozzie’s gang, another Farley character seems perfectly suited to describe the Sox’ (Red, that is) performance in Chicago: “It was awwwesome”. It was as if the offense had finally had enough of all the (deserved) grief it had received for failing to come through in the clutch this season. Theo Epstein went on the radio in Boston early last week and basically said, “We’ve had our share of bad situational luck this season. The thing with luck is that it tends to even out over the course of a 162-game season.” From Theo’s brain to the Sox’ bats, as they hit nearly .500 with runners in scoring position, and came through in 2-out situations with alarming regularity.
Each of the 4 games in this series proceeded with metronomic consistency; the Sox would struggle to get baserunners for the game’s first 3 or 4 innings, then they’d have a big middle inning to get some breathing room before blowing the doors off the Chisox bullpen. Lather, rinse, re-beat. While the offense was sputtering before finally catching and roaring off the starting line, the pitching staff continued its year-long dominance – the only exceptions being Josh Beckett’s action-packed 5 2/3 inning effort in the series’ first game and Kyle Snyder’s gift meatball to Paul Konerko to keep the Pale (imitation of a major league squad) Hose from being shut out on Saturday. Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez gave up a total of 8 hits and 2 runs in 19 innings. Wakefield’s now thrown 22 consecutive scoreless frames, though I’m not getting that excited about it, as they came against the Devil Rays and White Sox.
With the Tigers playing some gutty ball against the Yankees, the Sox head into this week’s series with their chief rivals no less than 7 games in front. Which turns the 3-game tilt from a gut-grinding exercise in nervous tension to an important but by no means all-consuming set. I reserve the right to whistle (scream?) a different tune if the Sox get swept in the Bronx. The fortunate byproduct of the White Sox' gracious hospitality is to render that worst-case scenario almost bearable.