Jonathan Papelbon reacts after his nightmare of a ninth inning. (AP Photo)
Hindsight's always a funny thing, however in last nights case I think it's something that's necessary. Yes it's a nine inning game, and yes focusing on one inning isn't looking at the whole picture, but trust me, come October the ninth inning is all that matters when you have a one run lead at home. The shaky (or can we start calling that consistent?) start of Dice-K is gone, the heroics of Manny Delcarmen and Jason Bay are past, it's down to just those three outs, and that's all that matters. Three outs. That's how close the Boston Red Sox were to re-claiming, what once looked like was too far out of reach, first place in the AL East. Papelbon just didn't look himself, and he fell behind early to Dan Johnson which is an uncharacteristic trait of the closer.
Even the casual Red Sox fan could tell that Papelbon didn't have it last night, and for good reason. After being extended for four outs the prior day, and pitching for the third day in a row you can't really expect too much of a guy in such an emotionally charged game. What gets me, is why in the hell did Papelbon pitch against the Rangers Sunday? It was a 7-2 game and I know he "needs his work", but seriously, if he has to pitch three games in a row, or "get his work in", shouldn't that be against the team we're trying to catch in the East? I'm just saying....
And about the bottom of the ninth, man...Tito was really at his worst there. Kotsay gets a lead off walk which is like gold when trying to score a run, I'm too lazy to look up the statistics right now, but trust me, the rate of those runs scoring are very high. Remember the 2004 ALCS? Percival was all over the place and could NOT find the plate, so what does Francona do with very good and eligible left handed bats on the bench? He sends Mr. Watney, I mean Jason Varitek, up to bat. Yup, Mr .225 himself. And he doesn't even send him up there to swing, he sends him up there to BUNT. Like Cora or Jacoby wouldn't be more serviceable in that situation. AND we also have TWO catchers on the bench who can come in the tenth and hit .225 for the Sox. Awful. So Varitek and Tito know that Troy boy can't find the plate and continue to try and bunt at balls that aren't even around the plate, and one that literally would have hit him. First and second with no out and Papi up, sure sounds nice huh? Then to cherry off the at bat Jason Watney watches the only strike thrown to him backdoor him out as he tries to complain about God knows what to the ump.
Now if Jacoby's quad was serious, cool. I get not pinch hitting him to bunt, or run. But why do it all of a sudden with two outs? Is his quad magically healed? Shouldn't he have been in there at worst as a decoy and distraction to the pitcher right after Mark was walked? I vote yes. He goes on to go to third on a stolen base, but Tito it was all way too little, and way too late. Everyone has an off night I guess, but man, I still feel hoarse from yelling at the TV.
And about the Mr. Watney comments, rumor has it from a fairly reliable source of mine that Jason Varitek is dating NESN "host" Heidi Watney. Yeah she's hot and all, but if this is true it shows you the good ol' boy attitude the major media has towards the captain. If he were in NY this would be all over Page Six. Not that I expect Tom Caron to cover this on NESN, but man, pretty bad that this is a non-story. The family man divorces his wife, can't hit his way out of a wet paperbag, and now dates the new floozy anchor host who apparently got fired from her last job for dating Jake Peavy (can't confirm this last part, help?). Either way, it's interesting how little mention there's been of this, and in the end who cares as longs as he's playing good ball...and yeah, hitting "OK" for two weeks isn't good ball, I don't care how "good of a game" he calls. My source said the Red Sox organization isn't too happy with either parties, but you can't control who you love right?
Sigh, glass is half empty today.