Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Game 157: Cry Me A River

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 7

"We'd be kidding ourselves if this weekend wasn't going to dictate the outcome of this season. It's the master plan. God's way. Yankees-Red Sox."
- Johnny Damon

I’ve read the papers and they all seem to cast a subtle blame on Schilling for last night’s disappointing loss and besides a bit of a swipe by the Courant, aren’t too interested in taking Francona to task for another bit of bullpen mismanagement. Fortunately for all concerned, we didn’t lose any ground, as Cleveland lost in a comeback bid against wretched TBay closer Dannys Baez and as predicted, Baltimore beat the crap out of the Yankees. The tie continues.

Of course, I wouldn’t be taking this tone of post if the offense hadn’t squandered opportunities – I think the superb Toronto bullpen pitched out of bases-loaded situations twice, stopping the Sox from easily blowing the game wide open – but the fact remains that Schilling should not have come out for the seventh inning, Bradford should not have come out for the eighth and sending out Craig Hansen to get two outs with runners on second and third is mildly reprehensible (welcome to the fire, kid. Now enjoy your Fenway debut). Schilling is Schilling; he blames himself for putting the Sox in the position to lose, but the fact remains that although the bullpen is stretched tight on days when Papelbon and Timlin aren’t available (how frightening is that?), the remnants have to be used properly when the starter is tired. Schilling may protest that he’s healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s pitching so poorly, but just watching him last night, you could see that his hips didn’t have the same drive and you remember once again we cannot expect the guy to make a full recovery a year after he pitched two massively important games with a stapled ankle. We know this, Schilling knows this, I have no doubt Tito knows this…but still he allows Schilling to come back out in the seventh, having through 109 pitches.

Then there’s Chad Bradford. I think Tito must have some sort of super man-crush on him, because that’s the only reason I can think of why he keeps pitching Bradford against lefties – especially when he takes Mike Myers out after walking the one batter he faced. Now, stats-wise, Chad Bradford IS Mike Myers in a mirror: basically the same numbers from opposites side of the plate. Bradford, as I’ve said about 15 times already, should ONLY be facing righties, just like Myers should ONLY be facing lefties, unless the Red Sox have a 15 run advantage, every other pitcher in the bullpen is unavailable and Kevin Millar has already taken his turn as a reliever. And yet, 22 times since July 14, Tito has used Bradford against a lefty and the result is 8 singles, 1 home run, 8 RBI and a lot of ugly.

I could go into reasons why you shouldn’t bring in a kid who seems to be on the verge of dead arm again and has pitched a total of two major league outings in his life when there are two runners in scoring position and the game is tied, but that would just be beating a dead horse. Let’s put it this way – Varitek wasn’t calling for fastballs from Hansen last night, so a strike out probably wasn’t in the offing anyway.

Tonight, Bronson Arroyo versus Ted Lilly. I’d be in a panic, but Arroyo is the only Red Sox starter whose ERA against Toronto isn’t over 10,000 this year – a nice 3.00 to be exact. Mayhaps we’ll get another opportunity we can take advantage of. GO SOX!!!