Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Game 100: Same Old Song and Dance, My Friend

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, Oakland Athletics 5

Kyle Snyder has an enemy. An implacable enemy, who defeats him at every turn, trampling his creations to dust, leaving him bereft of all hope and solace, as the opposing teams laughs and the other fans laugh and the papers laugh and I die a little inside. What is that enemy, my friends? That enemy is pitch number 31. Like Pedro in his days of yore, when pitch number 101 signaled a new game where wild things happen and runners scampered carefree around the base paths, Kyle Snyder’s thirty-first pitch is the end of innocence, the end of the sweet joy of Red Sox Nation enjoying their starting pitcher do his job and do it bloody well.

What happens exactly? Bad things, dear reader, bad things. To wit: BA and OPS against go from a sublime .176 and .412 to a sickening .429 and 1.095. Captain Kyle, for better or for worse, becomes eminently hittable and the result is as grotesque and startling as when a hidden creature of gothic horror removes its mask of loveliness to reveal the terrible disfigurement underneath. We’re all shrieking in horror at the awful things hitters do to baseballs when Kyle Snyder throws his 31st pitch.

How did it pan out today? Very well at first: Snyder and Haren had locked horns in what looked to be the beginnings of a pitcher’s duel, with Snyder ahead of Haren in the hits surrendered count. And then, on the second time through the order came the fateful crossing of the threshold, punched through with deadly vigor by no less than the Big Hurt himself, who crushed his first homer of the day over the centerfield fence to put Oakland on top for the day. The A’s bled another run from Snyder with three singles, then added three more in the fifth when a walk and a single set up another Big Hurt shot to push the score to five to nothing. Snyder left after the sixth and although relievers Van Buren and Hansen put out quality performances, it was too late for the Sox.

The Sox bats, meanwhile, seem to have blown their load yesterday – there’s no other reason why they did so poorly against a pitcher who’s been struggling all of July. They avoided a skunking when Manny doubled in the seventh, coming around to score on a Coco Crisp single, but Haren and his ability to induce hits to his fielders dominated throughout. That the game and the series ended on a pop up in foul ground to third baseman Eric Chavez was a fitting ending to a game where Boston looked completely overmatched.

Off day tomorrow as the Sox head home and then a three game set against Anaheim as we enter the final weekend of July. Jon Lester goes for win number six against Kelvim Escobar Friday night at 7:05. GO SOX!!!