Monday, June 23, 2008

Game 78: Inconsistency and Redemption

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, St. Louis Cardinals 3

I don’t want to go over the great start the Sox got from Jon Lester (very solid through 7), or the dumbfounding brilliance of Sox cast off Joel Pineiro (Sox couldn’t touch him), so I am just going to start at the top of the 9th. 3-2 ballgame, Sox ahead, 2 outs, 2 strikes, Papelbon dealing…

9 times out of 10 that ball game is over. OVER! Done… as in “the game is done, I can watch Mythbusters now!” So when I see what happened on Sunday, I know in my heart of hearts that it is an aberration. An event happening against the norm. Something that only rarely occurs and I don’t have to worry about it.

Knowing all that… I still flipped out when Paps let the tying run cross the plate. I screamed, I hollered, I clamed the game was lost.

So imagine what my reaction was in the 9th through 12th innings when the Sox got a man on 2nd with NO OUTS and still couldn’t score. Sure Tek blocking the plate was amazing and Hanson stepped up in a big spot, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was a mess and I think I had good reason.

My biggest problem with this team is the lack of consistency. The Red Sox of 2008 go through amazing stretches of brilliance, followed up by trashy showings of mediocrity. For example, after a good run on the road in NL parks, the Sox return home only to be trounced by a St. Louis team that had just lost 3 straight to Kansas City! So as big favorites, the Sox show no clutch hitting in game one, display a pitcher who still needed so rehab starts in game 2 and blew a game in the 9th for a series finale. That’s what I call inconsistency.

But here is the flip side of that coin. The Sox aren’t consistently BAD either. That tide does have to change eventually… and if you were watching the 13th inning of this game, you could see the waves roll gently over the rocks as Youk blasted the winning run over the monster. I think the Red Sox kept this game going for just long enough that they were able to outlast the “bad” they have inherently built into this team and were able to display the winning ways that have them planted first in the AL East.

All is forgiven thanks to Youk and his 13th inning bomb. He was waiting for the luck to turn and the balance to shift and took advantage of the karma alteration at just the right time. Nothing quite matches the jubilance of a walkoff HR and my only hope now is that this energy carries into the next series… so we can avoid the next inevitable downslide for just a bit longer.