Games 116 & 117 - Red Sox
Red Sox 6, Orioles 2
Orioles 6, Red Sox 3 (10)
On the bright side of things, I have an extremely useful mnemonic device for remembering how to pronounce Eric Gagne's French-inflected last name: I just use the same words opposing fans shout after one of his pitches leaves the bat. Gone, yay!
While the standings will show that the Sox lost 2 of 3 to the Orioles to give back 2 more to the Yankees, the reality of the situation is that Gagne is fully and squarely responsible for both losses, with small assists from Hideki Okajima. Gagne gave up a 2-run homer to Miguel Tejada to tie today's game in the bottom of the 8th and spoil a solid outing by Curt Schilling - the outcome was academic from that point.
I was fortunate, at least in small part, because I chose to first watch the PGA Championship and then go for a run instead of watch the Sox game. I get to this point in most seasons, when the weight and stress of over-investing in each game becomes too much to bear over the course of 162. It's a bizarre phenomenon, and one Whit and I briefly discussed this morning. We care so much about these teams of ours, eschewing the rational self-analysis that would nearly certainly reveal us as more than slightly mad, and that caring creates moments where we simply can't bear to watch. I've got a business trip to, of all places, Baltimore over the next few days, so I'll get a much needed break from the obsession.
Here's the thing, though. (You know you've missed it, admit it.) This Red Sox team's really damn good. Sure, it's much harder to be the hunted than the hunter, but they haven't built the game's best record through 117 games on smoke and mirrors. I had the Era of Positivity a few years back, and while I'm not revisiting that old chestnut, I'm echoing Jim Fassel and going all in. No panic about the oncoming Yankee menace - the Sox are making the playoffs, whether or not they win the division, and while I'd be hella pissed if they get overtaken, I'll still remember that the 2004 World Series Champions were a Wild Card entry. This is a good damn team with the league's best bullpen and a lineup that's solid if not spectacular 1-9. My chips are in the middle of the table - let's see who calls.