Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Panic! At the Disco

Game 138 – Red Sox

Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 10
Record: 83-55

I didn’t want to have to do this, but the Sox made me. I’m going to admit something you may find unseemly and troubling, all because the Red Sox nearly blew a 10-1 lead last night and I want to avoid any future such nausea-inducing moments. If you don’t want to read it, you should click away now.

I missed the Jays’ 8-run 6th because I was watching Justin Timberlake’s Future Sex Love Sounds concert on HBO. I regret what I’ve done, and I apologize for any pain my actions have caused my family, friends, and Red Sox Nation. It will never happen again. Although he is quite an entertainer.

Okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that. My wife and I had planned to see INXS here in town last night, but a combination of laziness and overspending this weekend led us to grudgingly discard that notion. As a consolation prize, I told her that we could watch the JT show, figuring that the Sox game would be nearly over and that I could follow along on my cell phone. And when the Sox took the 10-1 lead into the 6th, just in time for the concert to start, it seemed like a win-win.

I casually checked the score as the band took the stage, crowd screaming. Hmm, 10-2 Jays, 2 on, none out. Well, just minimize the damage. Another check, and Troy Glaus had homered to trim the margin to 5. Commence fidgeting, and not in time to the music. Then, 10-6, and an involuntary gasp from my side of the room. Finally, at 10-9, my wife turned to me and said, “You can turn the Sox’ game back on, if you want.”

I didn’t even try to pretend that I was struggling with the decision, mashing the Recall button on the remote before she could reconsider, and landing on NESN just in time to see Jacoby Ellsbury sprawl to his left to snare Frank Thomas’ sinking liner and keep the Jays from tying the score.

The Sox quickly tallied 3 in the bottom of the 6th to regain some equilibrium, and managed to hold on through several nerve-wracking situations to win a game that shouldn’t have been nearly that entertaining. Several key bullpen arms threw meaningful innings when they should have done nothing more strenuous than crane their necks to check out the Baseball Annies in the stands.

Daisuke Matsuzaka continued his recent disturbing trend, allowing 10 hits and 7 earned runs in 5 1/3, and failing to keep the lid on a 9-run lead. He’s pitched poorly in 4 of his last 5 starts as his inning tally nears the 200 mark. I’m beginning to see the wisdom of the oft-discussed 6-man September rotation, even if it means Julian Tavarez takes one of those turns.

While the pitching staff struggled until Hideki Okajima (sort of), Mike Timlin (barely), and Jonathan Papelbon brought sexy back (Sorry. Cry me a river. Oof. Sorry, again.), the bats rang out early and often. Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in the top 2 slots in the lineup reached base their first 6 plate appearances and scored each time. Mike Lowell kicked things off with a 3-run homer in the 1st, and finished with 3 hits and 4 RBI.

It’s somewhat noteworthy that the Sox have averaged 8.5 runs over the past 4 games despite the absence of Manny Ramirez from the middle of the lineup. Lowell’s scorching bat is a big reason, but so is the contribution being made by reserves and callups. Last year’s Sox faded under the combined weight of a number of key injuries in September. This year’s squad has already seen Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Bobby Kielty, and Eric Hinske pick up the slack in meaningful ways. Fingers crossed that the trend continues, but early signs look encouraging.

Beckett against Halladay this evening – let’s hope that Ebby Calvin can get through 7 innings and give the bullpen a bit of a breather. And that High School Musical 2 isn’t on the tube during the game – I’d hate to have to make that decision.


Mike said...

As someone who did not switch to the JT special it is comforting to finally understand who the weak link was in RSN that caused me such short term pain.

Is there anyway we can find some to take even part of JD Drew's contract? Am I the only one who would like to see Ellsbury in center next year and Coco move to right? The though of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Manny, (please bring back Mikey Lowell), Youk, Crisp, Varitek, Lugo as a lineup makes me giddy.

rob said...

i love me some ellsbury. but there's a very small part of me that still holds out hope for drew, even as he continues to scorn me with his meek popups and futile flailings at balls in the dirt.

sorry about the whole jt thing. won't happen again.