Somebody please tell me that what I saw last night happened only in my mind. That my horrific vision was just a cheap-beer-induced hallucination. Every clear-thinking, rational bone in my body tells me that there is no way Terry Francona puts a psychologically damaged Julio Lugo into a pressure situation, even to pinch run. Yet, as I stumble out of my late-morning fog, I see it is true.
The guy was brought in to play solid defense and hit lead-off. He failed at both. His defense has been below-average, particularly on his throws, and he couldn’t get on base enough to stay in the lead-off spot. So he gets moved down in the order. Take a little pressure off, let him get his swing back. Doesn’t work. No confidence at the plate even in the 9-hole. So the platoon (that we won’t actually call a platoon) begins. Give the guy a few days off here and there, get his head together. Nothing. 0-for-thirty-something. Sit his ass down, what choice is there? Fine – Cora is playing well, keeping the average respectable.
So we get into a one-run game, that should have been a blow-out by the second inning, and in the eighth inning Tito decides Lugo is the right guy to pinch run? Huh? It should surprise nobody that Lugo was gunned down trying to steal third – even after the catcher double-pumped – the ball was still there three steps before Lugo. What happened next was just plain ugly. Lugo decided at some point along his leisurely jog to third that a slide was not in order. Instead, he tried some half-assed take-out play that served not only to insure he would be called out but also made him look like twice the fool stumbling over the third baseman.
Take a step back and see it was Youk at the plate with two outs. All Youk had done was go 1-for-2 with three walks. And Big Papi on deck. Granted Papi hadn’t looked stellar at the plate himself all night, but I’ll take an Ortiz at-bat in a clutch spot over anything Lugo has to offer at this point. Francona owns this one, folks.
Not that the game should have ever been in question in the eighth, let alone have the Sox trailing. Once again, the offense had the starter on the ropes but just couldn’t find the one hit they needed to put it away. It was 4-0 early but felt like 10-0 with the amount of base runners the Sox had. Lowell hit a couple of balls hard that could have done the trick but ended up with just a sac fly. Manny was 0-for-4 and left a couple runners on, but it was Captain Tek wearing the rally-killer banner last night. 0-for-4 with four LOB’s.
Today we get Julian doin‘ his thing. Always a must-watch game when he takes the hill, just for the possibilities. I’m calling for bats. Clutch hits and home runs and let’s get this train back on the tracks.