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Home » 2009 PostseasonOctober 2009 » Purgatory


ALDS Game 1: October 8, 2009
Red Sox 0
L: Jon Lester (0-1)
WinAngels 5
W: John Lackey (1-0)
Highlights: Having Don Orsillo as play-by-play man is almost like having a postseason game on NESN. Buck Martinez spoiled the effect by sprinkling in imperceptive comments here and there. Too bad Dennis Eckersley is chained to the studio desk by TBS, it could have been a complete takeover by a regional sports network.

C.B. Bucknor is an umpire I have singled out in the past for his poor performance:

  • On my birthday (May 23) two years ago Bucknor presided over a Red Sox/Yankees game with Curt Schilling and Andy Pettitte starting. Bucknor’s strike zone judgment was notably inconsistent in the 8-3 Yankees victory.
  • He was home plate umpire in another Red Sox defeat, this one a 6-5 loss to the Orioles on August 11, 2007. Erik Bedard was openly scornful of Bucknor’s strike zone.
  • In the course of a 9-8 loss to the Orioles on August 31, 2007, Bucknor was hit in a sensitive part of the male anatomy. He seemed to have done a competent job in umpiring this game; it was just amusing for me to reminisce about his pain.

Curt Schilling posted about Bucknor and Greg Gibson in his blog, opining that you can tell the bad umpires from two characteristics: 1) they are consistently in conflict with coaches and players and 2) both hitters and pitchers complain about the strike zone.

Not that we need Schilling to tell us that Bucknor is visually impaired; just look at this picture by the Boston Globe's Jim Davis of Howie Kendrick clearly out at first to lead off the sixth inning. Had Jacoby Ellsbury not made a spectacular diving catch of Chone Figgins’s fly ball to the right-center the missed call would have cost the Red Sox a run.

Kendrick reached first on another blown call at first with two out in the fourth. Alex Gonzalez’s throw sliced away from Kevin Youkilis, forcing the first baseman to swipe tag Kendrick in the torso instead of toeing the sack. Replays showed that Youkilis tagged Kendrick before the runner reached the bag. Jon Lester had to get an extra out that inning, throwing six pitches to strike out Jeff Mathis.

If Lester didn’t have to throw those half-dozen pitches, perhaps he would have had more velocity or better location on the fastball he threw to Torii Hunter in the fifth that ended up in the faux naturescape (naturefake?) past the center field fences.

John Lackey dominated Boston batters, limiting them to a mere four singles (Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, and Alex Gonzalez) and a walk (Victor Martinez) while striking out four. Former Ranger, Cardinal, Red Sox, Rockie, Marlin, Astro, and Met lefty Darren Oliver pitched a flawless 1⅔ innings to shutout the visiting team.

Oliver’s line stands in stark contract to Ramon Ramirez, who made his postseason debut and didn’t tally an out. He loaded the bases by walking Bobby Abreu (his fourth of the evening, tying the division series record), hitting Hunter with a pitch, and allowing Vladimir Guerrero to single with a comebacker to the mound.

Takashi Saito nearly salvaged the inning by inducing a 5-2-5 double play off the bat of Juan Rivera; the second leg of the twin killing was aided by third base umpire Gibson erroneously ruling that Mike Lowell tagged Hunter at third. But breakout first baseman Kendry Morales dropped a two-RBI single to left that should have have only plated one run but for Bay’s errant throw and Saito’s failure to cover third.

“I’m going to Disneyland!” is reserved for winners. Time for the Red Sox batters to return from vacation and get some runs (and hopefully wins).

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