In honor of the late, great John Hughes: "Billy Traber, you're my hero." As much as yesterday was bad piled on terrible piled on really effing craptastic, at least we don't have to go into tonight with a devastated bullpen.
Of course, that may not matter so much, because winning the game of baseball requires scoring runs, and right now, that does not seem to be Boston's specialty. They can get men on base - Chamberlain gave up seven walks, for crying out loud, and didn't have a 1-2-3 inning all night - but scoring them seems to be another matter. To put it another way, the telling numbers for the Boston offense last night were not the eight hits, twelve walks (twelve!), or six runs, but the fifteen men left on base and the .143 (3 for 21) batting average with runners in scoring position. In the end, I had to turn the game off before it was over, because as it turns out, the only thing more frustrating than watching your team get shut down by superior pitching is to watch them squander scoring opportunities like a compulsive gambler burning through his kid's college fund.
As for Smoltz, I'm sympathetic to the pleas for his removal from the rotation, but who, exactly, is going to pitch in his place? The only non-used starter on the 40 man roster who seems remotely qualified is Michael Bowden, who's pitching well in Pawtucket, but isn't exactly tearing things up in a way that suggests he'd be an instant hit in the majors. Paul Byrd seems a more likely successor, but 38-year-old pitchers who haven't thrown all year can't just dive right into professional competition. By trading away Masterson and relying on Smoltz to pull through, the Sox have made their bed - let's just hope that if that bed is as full of broken glass as it seems, it doesn't cut us too much.