Worst loss of the year? Hell, yeah. We can call this the worst loss of the year. Because any time your team has the bases loaded and nobody out, down by one slim run in the bottom of the ninth with the hometown crowd at your back, you have got to win that game. No exceptions, no excuses. Especially when scoring one measly run and winning the game would have given the much-deserved W to your All Star-worthy starter, who went the full nine giving up just one run, striking out 6, and knocking that ERA down to a ridiculous 2.01.
But, sadly, on a night in which Steven Wright was insanely good, sparing the bullpen through nine and holding the White Sox to a single run, our offense was nowhere to be found. At the top of the order, Mookie, Xander, Ortiz and Hanley were an embarrassing 1-for-18. The rest of the line-up didn’t fare much better, with Vazquez (2 hits), Ortiz, Chris Young and Marco Hernandez the only players to get hits.
Still, we managed to tie the game at one in the seventh, but it was all just leading up to a meltdown of epic proportions. In the bottom of the ninth, score tied 1-1, the Sox loaded the bases with nobody out. Game over, right? Even though the weakest links in the line-up are due with Shaw, Vazquez and Hernandez, one of these smacked asses has gotta be able to drive that run in, right?
But then Farrell gets crafty. With Pedroia on the bench, he wastes no time in calling back Shaw and letting Pedey get his hacks in. Tough to argue with, although I could see Shaw possibly lofting one far enough to get that run in. All is moot seconds later when Pedroia strikes out in an ugly manner, looking baffled by a pitch right down the pipe. Farrell then lets Vazquez hit, which on any other day would be insanity but tonight, with Vaz 2-for-2 and having driven in the tying run earlier, made sense. Vaz then promptly grounded one to the second baseman, who fired home, eliminating the run. So now it’s two outs and we are standing on the precipice of one major fucking squander. The bench is pretty slim, but Sandy Leon is there, who went 4-for-4 a couple weeks ago. Farrell inexplicably opts for Ryan LaMarre, just up from Pawtucket, who fans on four pitches, looking as helpless as a ninth-grader getting shaken down for his lunch money.
Now clearly, any way Farrell went, the masses would crucify him. But if my bench was limited to Sandy, I would have put him up there over the guy who hasn’t faced major league pitching this season.
Naturally, in the top of the tenth, Kimbrel was brought on in a non-save situation and promptly shit the bed, giving up two hits, a walk and two runs. Game (more or less) over.
It was one of those games that made you want to put your foot through the TV, so thank God I was too lazy to even attempt it. And while I ended the game by railing against Farrell, looking back, it seems the easy way out. I still disagree with pinch-hitting LaMarre (I would have gone with Sandy), but at the end of the day, three professional baseball players were sent to the plate with one job: hit something to get the run in. None of them could conjure so much as an improvised fart. Maybe Sandy Leon gets that hit, maybe he doesn’t. But we had three chances to drive in the winning run and failed all three times. That’s tough to blame on a manager who never had a bat in is hands.
The loss made me physically ill, as it was a stark reminder that this team, while good, lacks that critical, we-will-not-go-quietly killer instinct that defined the 2013 team. Even worse, the offense’s ineptitude cost Wright his team-leading ninth win, which he richly deserved.
How you bounce back from the worst loss of the season defines you. Let’s see if our boys can do it against Chris Sale.