The Sox drop the first installment of Danger Week, leaving me with a slightly sour feeling in my gut. As well as several questions.

1) Regarding the bottom of the eighth: Why, why, why, why would you send Manny Ramirez — who can be fleet of foot on the rare occasion that he chooses to be but will never be mistaken for Barry Allen — on that Mike Lowell single? Hold him at third, and you’ve got the bases loaded with one out and Wily Mo comin’ up. Instead, we get Manny thrown out, Wily Mo blown away on 102 mph heat, and a fresh pitcher of urine tossed on our heads. Watching the replay, I still can’t pinpoint the precise moment that Hale — or anyone with two eyes in their head — could have thought that Manny would have made it. Maybe if we strapped a jetpack to his ass, but not under any other circumstances. Sure, yeah, you gotta “make things happen.” Gotta “shake things up and try to get the runs in.” Hey, there could be a bad throw. The catcher could drop the ball. You never know. But watching Manny hit home plate long after the ball had arrived there, I couldn’t help but think that we had three hits, a run in, and momentum looking to swing our way. Just like that ::snapping fingers sound::, it was squashed. Thank you, and good night.

2) Whose job is it to tell Josh Beckett that the word is pretty much out on those first pitch strikes? Because that person should tell him.

3) Where Rudy Seanez is concerned, is the standard operating procedure to simply let him stay in the game until he gives up a couple runs, then take him out? It has to be. Seriously, his appearances have become as predicatble as an episode of Charles in Charge. He comes in. He throws some crap. He gives up a run or two, pushing the game just a little further out of reach. Tito comes out and gives “the sign.” His job complete, Seanez retreats to the clubhouse for meat and soda. Rinse. Repeat.

4) After Manny got thrown out, and the NESN cameras showed him discussing DeMarlo’s crack-inspired logic with A-Gon, did you catch that glimpse of Gabe Kapler standing in the background, nose stuck in a book? What the devil was he reading? It didn’t appear to be a baseball-related document, like a playbook or scorecard. Looked more like a small trade paperback. He’s widely known as one of baseball’s “smart guys,” so he could have been brushing up on his sonnets. Or maybe something more mainstream, like The DaVinci Code. For some bizarre reason, I’m quite curious to know.

5) Why do I continue to cling to the hope that these guys will still be playing baseball in mid-October? Dunno. Guess I was just born that way.

I’ll be at tonight’s game, cheering on Curt, downing pricey beers, and likely making lame passes at anything female. If you are a female and will be at tonight’s game, allow me to apologize in advance.

I’m sorry.

Okay. Now. Let’s get ’em.