It’s incredibly easy to rag on Eric Gagne for his general ineptitude with a Sox game on the line, questionable taste in eye wear and the fact that he’s, y’know, Canadian. But while Eric will stand in most folks’ minds as the goat of game two — and I gave him the business just as quickly — it was actually our offense’s inability to plate one measly run from the sixth through the tenth inning that brought us into a situation where Gagne had to come in.
Last night, the offense let us down again, the most ball-busting example coming in the second inning, when we squandered a bases-loaded/nobody out situation, missing a golden opportunity to shake off the sickness of Saturday night and inject Jake Westbrook full of jitters. Instead, Tek flew out meekly and Coco grounded into a stomach-churning, spirit-crushing double play, and as quickly as it started, it dissolved into nothing. We stare at the carnival, as Tom Waits once sang, but we’ll never win it back. It was a tide-turning, game-changing, momentum-shifting moment, and, naturally, Cleveland responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run by Kenny Lofton, who fought in the Civil War yet still torments opposing pitchers to this day.
And so it went that a full twelve innings of ALCS action passed before we finally scored again, in the seventh inning on a Tek two run job. But in my mind, it still doesn’t make up for his lame-ass fly-out with the bases loaded. When we needed the Cap’n to stand tall with the lumber, he gave us nothing but whiskey d#ck, fitting Westbrook for Superman tights he had no right donning.
As for Coco, he’s having a truly ugly ALCS, logging a dismal 3-for-12 through three games (and begging the question, doesn’t Coco need a rest or, say, an impromptu trip to Fiji so we can get us some Ellsbury love for game four?).
Of course, Coco’s not alone in his ineptitude; as had been a frequent concern throughout the season, the bottom half of the line-up — or, for that matter, anyone not named Manny, Ortiz, Youk and Lowell — is giving us absolutely nothing. Tek, who is wonderful behind the plate but murder with a bat in his hand, is 2-for-14. Lugo is 2-for-11. And J.D. Drew, he of the fat wallet, is 3-for-11, and looking more and more like a guy who’s ready to pack it in and get cozy before a fire with his pipe and slippers and LL Bean catalogs. Meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia is killing us at the top of the order, going 2-for-12 and truly lost at the plate, like a mouse trying to swat a fly with a turkey leg.
Simply put, these aren’t the kind of numbers that win ballgames. Or series. And if we harbor any thoughts of actually bringing this thing back to Boston, we have to start banking on something more than Beckett pitching a no-hitter. The offense needs to step it up, to give us something to look forward to after Lowell gets his swings in, to prove that there is life after Manny and Paps in the line-up.
But nobody wins when the umpires are bad beyond belief. To paraphrase one of my favorite SNL sketches, what the f@#k game was that home plate ump watching? Did he have an iPod Nano tucked into his mask? Did he forget to wear his corrective lenses? Did he have a hot date with a steak sandwich and an east side hooker that took up most of his focus (“Do I start with the sandwich, or the boobs? Sandwich… or boobs?”)? Because he sure wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the game. One of the worst performances I’ve seen this year, and I’m including game two of the Walpole Penitentiary World Series, which was eventually called on account of rain and sodomy.
Tonight, we have Tim Wakefield as the one guy standing between us and a 1-3 hole. So, naturally, I’m praying for rain, which is forecast for Cleveland for much of the day. Because a game four postponement might get Tito thinking about running Beckett, his not-so-secret-weapon, out there on full rest to put us back on even keel, and set the stage for a Beckett short-rest start in game seven as well. But since Teets seems determined to go with Wake in game four and not throw Beckett even if the game is pushed back a day due to rain-out, we just need two things: mandatory Red Bull and coffee IVs for the offense, and an impossibly short leash for Timmeh. As much as I love me some Wake, he’s a crapshoot whether he’s healthy or hurting, and with our offense not producing much, we can’t afford to find ourselves down five or six runs by the fourth inning. Momentum is now on the side of the Cleveland Indians and we need something to swing it back our way.
That said, if we do drop game four and find ourselves on the brink of elimination, we can still put cash money on Commander Kick Ass to set us on the path to righteousness. And you know how much I dig righteousness.