Sunday, August 06, 2006

Game 110: Nothing is Ever Easy

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7

-----Insert Image of my head hitting a table and babies crying-----

The Grind. That’s what they call it. Every week, every game, every pitch. It’s a long season and the home stretch (August and September) seems to make or break teams. Now, more than ever, does the effectiveness of the bullpen and the clutch hitting matter to the wins and losses.

Now the clutch hitting they often have covered (more specifically Papi has it covered), but the bullpen has been hit and miss…. Or miss and miss… and miss and miss and miss.

Jason Johnson was about as good as he has ever been. A solo shot and a dumb error with Crawford aboard (on JJ, he still sucks like that) were the only two runs in the 6 good innings he pitched. WOW. I was so hard on this guy and it seemed like he was due for a lynching, but he really knuckled down and made his pitches. That leaves 3 innings for the pen with a 4 run lead to work with. Game over.

Yeah right.

This has been the problem. Nobody can bridge the gap. Delcarman looks like he is on the verge of being that guy… but has mixed in awful outings with spectacular ones. Tonight was the former. 2 runs in 2/3 innings. Not good. Then in comes Timlin, the vet, the bow hunter… the long ball prone. Since the all-star break he has seemed more worn down than ever. A solo shot from him and it’s a one run game and the closer is in to get 5 outs.

Ahhh yes. The Papelbon: dominant, poised and consistent. He is going to get the job done 49 out of 50 times.

So what happens when it’s that 50th time and you are only up by a run? Tie game.

Yeah…in Tampa. Just pathetic.

In the extra frames, Tavarez does what he does best and ends it with another solo blast. This just moments after the bat was taken out of Papi’s hands (IBB) and Manny popped up with 2 outs.

Now I am not one of those annoying “blow ‘em up” pessimists, but I can see the writing on the wall. If you don’t have a bullpen that can get outs, then you are not going to make the playoffs (be it by winning the division or the Wild Card). I just don’t see it this year. Ortiz should get the MVP, and maybe they can scrounge together 95 wins… but I think the playoffs chances are fading away into the hot summer nights as the days grow shorter and shorter.

Maybe next year.