Sunday, August 12, 2007

Deja Boo

You know, we've tried really, really hard around here to be glass-is-half-full, especially since the delectable events of October 27, 2004. But that mindset is getting harder and harder to keep as the Red Sox keep blowing close games in the late innings. Less than 48 hours after their most horrific loss of the season on Friday night in Baltimore, Terry Francona again brought new toy Eric Gagne into a close game today with the Sox leading, and again the goateed French-Canadian proceeded to provide another le bleun save. Let's get the basics out of the way first, and then we can dig into the ugly particulars. Sox lose 6-3 on a walk-off Kevin Millar homer (just throw some salt in that raw wound), Yanks sweep an absolutely pathetic Indians team. The lead is now 4. Mikey, can I start talking about the pinstripes again?


I don't even know where to start with this weekend series against the Orioles. They're leading 3-1 late today, Curt Schilling has pitched well, we're looking at Okajima and Papelbon and we'll take 2 of 3 from these guys and then we can feast on the Devil Rays. What does Francona do? He brings in Timlin, and he does fine, and then he goes to Okie, who lets 2 guys get on base. Tito pulls him in favor of Gagne and Miguel Tejeda parks one in the leftfield bleachers to tie it up at 3. It wasn't no cheapie either - this thing was scalded. As most hits have been off Gagne in his short - but very memorable - stint in Boston. Bottom line: we end up wasting two good starts from Dice-K and Schilling, and while Beckett salvages some of the lost weekend, it certainly leaves an empty feeling.

To be sure, the mistakes haven't all had Gagne's name attached to them. There have been continued baserunning gaffes, tons of men left on base in key situations, a glaring lack of power, bad fundamenals (Lugo unable to drop a sac bunt down today), and brain-dead managerial decisions (Tito bringing in Gagne again; not walking Millar with 2nd and 3rd and one out). There have been reports that much of the team is suffering from the flu, and I for one am really hoping that's the case because they were in a fog all weekend long.

Now let's get to Gagne. First, as a human being, I feel bad for the cat. He made a tough decision to come to Boston and be a set-up guy, and he was psyched to be here. Unlike some other wusses in this clubhouse, he stood in front of the throng of reporters after today's game and answered every question. He'll be better and he will contribute. But right now he ain't getting it done, and there's no way in hell he should have been brought into a close game today. Bring him in when it's 7-1 and let him find it. But nooooo... the other thing that's driving me insane is I think Theo went out and got this guy and gave his manager absolutely no inkling how he should use him. All year long, it's been a steady, successful drumbeat of Okajima and Papelbon. Now you've got Timlin coming around, and Manny Delcarmen's throwing gas. They tinkered with a good thing and it's coming back to haunt right now. I, like many, was happy to get Gagne, and I viewed him more as a luxury than a necessity. Many speculated it was a move to keep Gagne away from the Yankees, but really he's been their best trading deadline acquisition - and they don't even have to pay him! They've got to figure out how they're going to use the man, and Gagne must stop grooving fastballs.

Getting back to the glass is half full part for a minute, I guess there are some positives. J.D. Drew seemed to find his stroke in this series, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it going at Fenway this week. The other big plus is that we play three against the Triple-A Devil Rays starting tomorrow night, even though one of those three is against Scott Kazmir, who may as well be a body double for Erik Bedard. Tough lefty who the Sox can't hit.

But the negatives are hard to turn away from. Big Papi's lack of power. Manny's lack of power. Jon Lester's ineffectiveness. The ups and downs of Tim Wakefield. This team needs a jolt of the future. Bring up Jacoby again and let him play. Also read a little snippet on that Clay Bucholz would be called up for the doubleheader against the Angels.

They need to do something because the natives are going to be big-time restless tomorrow (the sound and fury, as Theo calls it.) Channel 4's Bob Lobel will flash the panic button tomorrow at 6. The newspapers will compare this collapse to 1978. We are in a full-fledged race, and our opponent - our blood rival who we thought was dead and buried a month ago - is white hot. We also may have to accept the fact that the Red Sox - despite their MLB-best record - aren't the best team in MLB. In fact, they've been barely average since June 1. From June 1 to now, the Sox are 33-32 versus the Yanks' 44-23. Yikes.

Oh well - game on. I was never quite comfortable with that 14.5 game lead, and in true typical Red Sox fashion, they can never put those bastards away. I don't care what anyone says about wild card - I want our first division flag since 1995. Gut check time.

i'm afraid..............wild card huh
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