Monday, July 25, 2005

Game 99: Mind The Basepaths

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4

I would say the problem is that we don't have a proper closer; we have a starter who can't go enough innings to start. That wouldn't be the problem, though, if our base runners could navigate the basepaths smoothly and without incident, or if Kevin Millar could do things besides strike out in clutch situations, or if Mike Timlin could somehow prevent inherited runners from scoring. How is it that a man ends up on third after a walk and a single, only to have his replacement, Adam Stern, a guy the Sox have on their team to run the bases quickly, get thrown out in a pickle because he jumped too soon on an infield hit? That run, had it scored (and it would have scored) would have won the game. But no, not to be.

Nor was it to be the next inning when Trot Nixon singled, stole second base as Jason Varitek struck out, then managed to get hit by a John Olerud single in the foot. IN THE FOOT. I suppose we're lucky that he didn't hurt himself in the process, but Nixon has committed way too many baserunning gaffes this season. Remember back in the early 90's, when Bill Clinton's campaign slogan was "It's the economy, stupid"? It's the base running, stupid.

Sarcasm aside, this team needs a kick start as much as they did this time last year. Base runners who can't seem to figure when to stay and when to go, a relief staff whose major components are so idiosyncratic that no lead is safe, an offense that can't seem to get on a coordinated hot's tough to win with a situation that feels so disjointed. Yes, it was awesome to see Johnny Damon hit home run number seven off the foul pole to give the Sox a 3 - 2 lead, but I shouldn't come back 30 minutes later and see that the score is tied up because an inherited runner could not be held, especially against Tampa Bay.

Theory, discussed with Micah: Curt Schilling wants to come back to the starting rotation now because he's realized what a thankless job it is to be a closer and he's tired of coming into situations where he can't give up runs. Even if that's the case and (as some might suggest) he's worried about the effect of failing as a closer will have on his legacy, he certainly shouldn't come back before the Sox have a solution for the bullpen hole and nor should he try and start games because he has more leeway with runs.

Tomorrow, thank God, Clement is facing the pitcher Boston destroyed before he even got an official out. GO SOX!!!

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