When yesterday’s game drew to a close, my first thought (delivered via SG Twitter, where all my ridiculously lame first thoughts go these days) was, “I musta finished that entire PBR keg myself, because I think I just saw Halladay out dueled by Paul Byrd.” And it’s true. As much as I like to portray myself as a staunch defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, and wearer of the all-powerful, vintage Dick Drago T-shirt, I looked at the match-up and figured the Doc would have it all over Byrd. Any other outcome would be as ridiculous as, I dunno… Disney buying up all the Marvel Comics characters.
Again, it shows how much I know. Byrd stepped in right off the Field of Dreams and shut down the Jays on three hits over six innings. I’m not gonna go make those World Series plans just yet–there’s a reason the Jays are 23 games out of first place–but yesterday’s performance far exceeded my expectations. And Byrd’s post-game comments showed that he’s every bit as wide-eyed:
“I’m throwing to a 13 and under team and the Red Sox called and I say, ‘I don’t know how long I’ll take to get ready,”’ said Byrd, still clutching the game ball and wearing the youth league hat in an interview room after the game. “I’m just so excited to be back. I want a World Series ring. Hopefully I can help this team get there. I’ll clean toilets if I have to, and I told them that.”
If anyone in the clubhouse was any giddier, it might have been Billy Wagner, who struck out the side in the eighth in his Red Sox debut. Again, it’s against a team more than 10 games under .500. But it gives us–and him–a shot of confidence as we barrel into September.
Lastly, on a team with lots of role-players and plug-ins, an attitude like Rocco Baldelli’s is a nice switch from the “play me or trade me” stance that you tend to hear a lot:
“I play when I’m told,” he said. “Employee No. 5; that’s it. I go out there and do whatever I’m asked. If it’s against Roy Halladay, it’s against Roy Halladay.”
An off day today to catch our collective breath, then on to Tampa Bay, where bad things always seem to happen. This is a must-win series and I’m confident the boys are up to the task.