A loss worth remembering
I think the Red Sox showed more about themselves as a team in Monday night’s loss than they have in nearly any of their victories this season. That night was just not set up for success.
Late Sunday game against the Yankees ends after midnight. Long flight that had the Red Sox spend all of their normal sleeping hours in the air. Arrival in Oakland in the wee hours of the morning . A game that night.
Terry Francona, who in my estimation, has done a masterful job this season, knew it was prudent to get some guys rest. No Julio Lugo, no Mike Lowell, no Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp stayed out of the lineup because of an illness. And the bullpen decided to go to battle without the top tandem of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.
Still, the Sox were plucky enough to stay in this thing. Down 4-2 going into the ninth. Jerry Remy quickly pointed out that the A’s should have kept in their lefty with the tough arm angle to face David Ortiz instead of the straight-armed Alan Embree. Remy proves correct as Ortiz leads the inning off with a double. Manny strikes out. Youkilis grounds out. And Francona does a fairly gutsy thing here, hitting Jason Varitek for J.D. Drew. I say gutsy because many managers don’t pinch-hit for a hitter of Drew’s caliber — even if he’s in a slump — because the player might lose confidence or feel disrespected. At any rate, Varitek responds with a bloop single, bringing in a run to cut the lead to one.
Crisp was too sick to start, but Tito calls on him to run for ‘Tek. That only ends up being huge when he calls for a hit and run and Pena wacks one into the gap in right-center. Coco scores all the way from first. Do you guys realize where Wily Mo’s liner would have went if Coco didn’t take off? You got it — right where the second baseman would have been standing, that’s where.
Anyway, bottom of the 9th now and the bases are loaded with nobody out, thanks in large part to Eric Hinske booting an easy grounder. So what happens next? J.C. Romero gets a huge strikeout and then a 5-2-3 DP to end the inning. The sight of Hinske widely smiling and pumping his fist was great to see. He got picked up by a teammate and he’s loving it. Hinske is a tremendous teammate and his excitement was due to the fact that he would have been crushed if he had lost the team the game. Romero, who had some control issues, was equally ecstatic. Here are two of the more unheralded players on the team coming up huge on a night many of the stars were out. That does wonders for a team.
The Sox finally lose the game in the bottom of the 11th when Chavez loses a meaty offering from Snyder. But that’s besides the point. This team played with all of their collective heart on a night they very easily could have lost 7-2 — remember Tavarez was pitching against A’s ace Dan Haren — and nobody would have knocked them. But they went down fighting until the end.
I thought that said a lot about the character of the club. That’s all.