The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pop quiz

Spot the odd man out:

Schilling 8 IP 6 H 1 R 1 ER
Papelbon 2 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER
Timlin 1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER
Tavarez 0.1 IP 2 H 4 R 4 ER

Yup - in one-third of an inning, Tavarez manged to give up more runs than the eight other pitchers in 23 combined innings.

Up until that point, it had been "an absolute flawless gem of a game". Santana consistently made some very good hitters look very bad, and Schilling matched Santana's efficiency, if not his dazzling brilliance, over the first 8 innings. Seeing Santana on top of his game last night, throwing that wicked changeup of his, reminded me of Mariano Rivera and his cut fastball - you know what's coming, but there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

After those eight masterful innings, I was hoping that the Sox could get to the Twins' relievers, yet at the same time, I was also ready to accept that this was a classic game that we might possibly lose by a single, pesky, scratched-out, small-ball run. But when innings 9, 10 and 11 slipped by without either side scoring I began to hope that the Sox might actually be able to pull off a win. The top of the twelfth had me more than hoping - Alex Gonzalez beat out a double play ball at first and plated the go-ahead run. I repeat: Alex Gonzalez drove in the go-ahead run! The gods were definitely on our side. Unfortunately, so was Julian Tavarez, and this one went from thriller to chiller in the space of four batters: HBP, double, walk, grand slam, ballgame.

I don't mind losing the game, but losing it like that was like getting sucker-punched whilst you have your back turned. By a member of your own family.

I don't know how the Sox solve their bullpen woes, but until such time as they do, what is needed are a couple of hard-core bouncers on the top step of the dugout, checking the names and numbers of players who go out on the field. Since bouncers are not always known for their high IQ, there will be a simple directive: "Check for Z's. If there's a Z in the name, ask: "Hit or pitch?" If he says "Hit", let him go. If he says "Pitch", TIE HIM UP AND FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T LET HIM ANYWHERE NEAR THE MOUND!"

I don't care if it means sending Alex Cora out there to pitch - I don't want Seanez or Tavarez anywhere near the mound unless a) we're leading by at least 25 runs or b) we're playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Only then will I be able to sleep easy at night.