Monday, October 13, 2008

Bad Moon Rising

ALCS Game 3: Boston Red Sox 1, Tampa Bay Rays 9

Due to the circumstances of the day, I ended up listening to the game rather than watching it. In retrospect, doing so was probably the best decision I made all day, sparing me from what were no doubt the shrill cackles of Chip Caray as he and his broadcasting fellows presided over one of the uglier post-season losses I've had the displeasure to witness. Instead, I slogged through the wreck with the dulcet (and by dulcet I really mean high pitched but still welcome through nostalgia) and laconic tones of Joe Castiglione, supplemented by partner of the day Dale Arnold. It was Dale who pointed out the full moon rising over Boston, giving the night - and this post - its theme.

And oh, what a theme. Jon Lester picked one of the worst days possible to have his first shaky moments in months, surrendering twin bombs to the Devil-enchanted Rays and opening up a gap that was as steady as it was insurmountable. Life disappeared from the Fenway stands, as the faithful watched in disbelief as the man who seemed near to claiming the throne of pitching god stumbled and fell. Like Icarus, it seems that Jon Lester flew too close to the sun, scorching his wings with the burning rays of immortality. Or maybe he just had one of those bad days at the office. Either way, neither he nor relief effort Paul Byrd could do enough to keep the Rays off the board.

Would that the offense could have retained their stride from Saturday and kept the Rays' staff in similar straights! Unfortunately, the full moon's curse hit both sides of the equation, pulling the fangs of Boston's hitters in the cruelest way possible: a hit almost every inning, a run scored but once. The heart of the order got on base once and struck out five times, moonstruck into awful, swing-and-a-miss silence when needed most. It wasn't a pleasant scene.

So we'll go into tomorrow with Wakefield on the mound and the Rays nammering for blood, swarming hungrily like clouds of biting insects hungry for flesh. If the Sox follow past form, they'll surrender that flesh (and another loss) one more time before they have the moment of realization, the head-alignment moment where they start playing a game at a time and don't stop winning until they've steamrollered their American League opponent and whatever motley crew the senior league offers as a token sacrifice on the way to World Series victory. I don't expect history to keep repeating itself, but if the Sox want to avoid the early exit sign now flashing in blinding neon light on the road ahead, they'll need to end this flirtation with the bad moon's curse and get back into the game.