Thursday, April 24, 2008

Game 24: Our Bullpen is the SuXx0r

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 7

I really, really, really wanted to write about Justin Masterson and how well he did: six innings, four strikeouts, the eleven ground ball outs you'd expect to see from a sinkerballer, four walks that did no damage, an escape through a double play, one home run but a good job keeping things low in the zone (see the number of ground ball outs), etc. He brought peace, love, good will to all men and a controlled score to a team still staggering from flu-related illnesses, and if the bullpen could have done their jobs and kept the score under control, you'd all be treated to three paragraphs of discussion on sinking fastballs and the need for a strong defense. However...

We made up the Red Scare tag last spring as a joke about the embryonic nature of Boston's bullpen. This year, we've used it a (judicious) four times (counting today), but it's come to acquire a more menacing meaning: the Red Scare is becoming the collection of Red Sox arms who, despite expectations to the contrary, come into a game, blow the lead, and put pressure on the offense to win the game in spite of the damage. What's worse, the problematic pitcher (or pitchers) differs from game to game, so we're never exactly sure who's going to suck today. It's like watching a baseball version of Russian roulette, except no one gets a thrill when the bullet doesn't end up in their brain. It makes me wonder if someone's systematically poisoning the Red Sox, not giving them the flu.

Anyway, what amazes me is that the score ended up as close as it did. After the Angels exploded for six runs over the last three innings while their bullpen did the normal thing and kept the Sox off the bases, I entered fatalistic mode, where I console myself with fantasy baseball points and pray for the quick ending to the final outs. What's fortunate about this team (thus far) is that - unlike me - they don't give up: the ninth inning was exciting because despite the dispiriting shift in momentum, the Sox still managed to score two runs. I'll take that resurgence as the silver lining (it's April, after all, and I'm allowed), and hope that someone figures out the bullpen situation mighty quick.