It is not impossible, just highly improbable, for lightning to strike twice in the same place. So when Papi stood at the plate in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs, facing Scott Shields — the same dude he’d launched a game winning homer off on Tuesday night — my first thought was, “No way he’s gonna do it again.” And it’s not that I’m negative. It’s just that years of watching the Sox clutch furiously at handfuls of sand that just slip out of their fingers have conditioned me to expect the worst. So, in a way, my saying that he’s not going to do it is, in fact, a way of trying to trick the gods of baseball into letting him do it. As if they’d hear me and say, “Screw this Red bastard. Let Papi launch one to the roof of Crossroads Pub.”
But. Yeah. Didn’t happen. Instead, he stood frozen by the third strike, and a little piece of me died.
My uninformed analysis, as formulated from the comfort of my easy chair, is that they could have won this game. In the eighth they had two on, nobody out and the guys you want coming up coming up. But Manny hit for Graff and struck out, continuing his freefall spiral. Then, after Damon walked to load ‘em up, Edgah struck out with a goddam exclamation point, followed by the aforementioned Papi K.
Grief quickly flipped to anger in the ninth. Here, we get the bases loaded again and with two outs, Tito goes with a rusty Petagine over Alex Cora, who tripled last night. Petagine proceeds to strike out on three pitches — at least one of those swings looking like his eyes were fixed on a game taking place in an alternate universe — and the lights go out. I’m sure that somewhere there’s a little scrap of paper with figures and factoids that say Petagine’s the guy you want to live or die with in that situation [lefty on righty, yeah, yeah]. But, man, did he step on my nuts.
In the end, we can only tip our caps to Byrd and the Angels. And look forward to seeing them again in October. Maybe.
Now. On to New Yawk. And this little team called the Yankees. Are we stepping on their throats, or letting them back in the race? Your predictions for this weekend’s series go in our comments section.