Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Game 56: Dude, Where's My Ball?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, New York Yankees 2

It should have turned out differently in the end, but for the most of the night, David Pauley and his stoner player photo had the Yankee hitters fooled.

I’m going to ignore the negatives for the moment and talk about how well David Pauley pitched tonight, because he did a fabulous job. He went into a situation where, despite the potential he showed in Toronto on May 31, Robin, myself, the regular commenters on this blog, sports pundits everywhere and probably God Almighty thought he was going to get knocked around: pitching his second major league start in Yankee Stadium. Even Francona seemed to be a bit worried: with an overworked bullpen and a big question mark about the capabilities of the starting pitcher, Tito called up star prospect Craig Hansen from Pawtucket and put Alex Cora in at shortstop today – just because Cora can throw a weird knuckleball and could take over in relief if needed. My mind shudders to think of the possibility. But guess what? None of those preparations mattered tonight: Pauley was excellent, with six and two thirds innings of work, eight hits, two runs, two strikeouts, two walks, one double play and thirteen groundouts. The sinker sank, the change up, not well featured against the Jays, stymied the Yankee hitters and I was pretty damn impressed.

Unfortunately, the Sox had a few problems tonight. First, Chien-Ming Wang was on his game, too, making one mistake pitch to Papi in the third that ended up bouncing off the upper deck in left but keeping the Sox from advancing any other base runners past third for seven innings. Second, Kyle Farnsworth caught a huge break when Melky Cabrera robbed Manny of a home run that would have tied the game in the eighth. Words can’t describe my displeasure with that feat of athleticism, so we’ll move on. Remember when Cabrera couldn’t field? Yeah, those were fun times. Third, as good as Pauley was all night, he completely fell apart in the seventh after letting a routing grounder slip through his glove on what should have been the third out. Unable to pull it together, he left the game after walking the bases loaded, in time for the fourth and biggest problem of the night: Rudy Seanez.

Rudy, you get your own paragraph. Rudy, I don’t get it. You’re the default set-up man, now that Timlin is on the DL and Foulke is on his way there. As much as this concept scares the crap out of me, it’s the way things go for right now and you and I need to learn to accept this fact. Now, the job of the set-up man is to get holds, you know, those things where you come into a game and keep the score in favor of your team (or, in tonight’s case, even) by not giving up runs. All you had to do tonight was get Giambi out. Strikeout, pop out, ground out, fly out; any of those options were available and the Sox would have been out of the inning. Instead, you failed in your appointed task, walked Giambi and the winning run on six pitches, ending it all with a weak attempt to go inside that wouldn’t have fooled free-swinging Brad Wilkerson. You ruined the night for David Pauley and that makes me sad. Very sad.

Tomorrow night, Schilling versus Wright to avoid losing the series. I think it’s time for the big thunder to come out, time for the Sox to beat Wright like a redheaded stepchild on a rented mule. I want an old-fashioned blow out win and I want it bad. GO SOX!!!