What could be better than a pitchers’ duel? A pitchers’ duel that the Red Sox win. John Lackey was solid for six innings with an admirable if not spectacular line of 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 40 showings of his commercial with Don Orsillo.
What’s a rotary? Something almost as perilous as having Jonathan Papelbon as your fireman.
The closer hurled a perfect ninth and was summoned to maintain the tie in the tenth. Instead, Curtis Granderson jumped all over Papelbon’s fat fastball and gave his team its first lead of the game. The center fielder’s home run got out of the park faster than Dennis Drinkwater.
The ALDS meltdown supposedly motivated Papelbon to get into tiptop shape mentally and physically for this season. After the leadoff homer he gathered himself to strike out Nick Swisher but then quickly came undone. He walked nine-hole hitter Brett Gardner and then was sufficiently distracted by the speed threat on first that he walked Derek Jeter as well. Rather than continuing to tax Papelbon’s arm on what he probably determined was a losing effort, Terry Francona called on Scott Atchison to finish out the game.
Papelbon was not alone in carrying the blame for the loss: Daniel Bard relinquished the game-tying run in the seventh on an ill-advised pitch. Swisher was behind the count 0-2 with Jorge Posada plodding about second base. Instead of continuing to challenge Swisher with fastballs Bard tried to throw off Swisher’s timing with a purported change-up. The reliever’s change-up is so fast that MLB Gameday didn’t even register it as such.
As Bard needs to develop a feel for his off-speed pitch so does the umpiring crew need to learn how to interpret the pitchers’ intent. In a tight game, neither Andy Pettitte nor Lackey would have intentionally hit batters. Kevin Youkilis was hit with two out and a runner on with the score 1-0 in the Red Sox favor in the fifth. Jeter was hit to lead off the sixth with the count 2-2. But home plate umpire Paul Schrieber still saw fit to warn the dugouts when there clearly was no intent.
While Remy and Orsillo were engaging as usual, it would have been fun to listen in on a few innings of the ESPN broadcast. I heard from my friend who lives outside of the Boston territory that the trio of Dave O’Brien, Nomar Garciaparra, and Rick Sutcliffe were particularly astute and amusing. Jason Varitek sent Garciaparra a pair of batting gloves and the retiree obligingly recreated his well-known habit. Hopefully the former shortstop returned the favor by advising Varitek to retire.
Speaking of people that should retire, Peter Wolf and Steven Tyler visited the booth in the fourth. When the camera cut back to the field I expected to see red caps with blue brims, pullover uniform tops, Bill Lee on the mound, and Carlton Fisk behind the plate.
Despite his haggard appearance, Tyler is probably still getting more action from groupies than Mike Lowell is on this team. Not that I think Lowell could have turned the series around, but the third baseman would be an everyday player on many teams. I think he is not long for this team.
The 2010 team is learning how to play together while I’m trying to learn to like the new players. Lackey is one of those players I strongly disliked when he opposed Boston, but I have somewhat conquered my knee-jerk distaste for him.
In contrast, Granderson was a player that I liked, but it is now so easy to feel animus towards him because of his uniform. Like the Yankees logo on the Prudential Center (even though it’s a hoax), it’s just not right that wonderful things wear that club’s symbol.
|Game 3: April 7, 2010 ∙ 10 innings|
|3||W: Chan Ho Park (1-1)|
S: Mariano Rivera (2)
|2B: Jorge Posada (2)|
HR: Curtis Granderson (2)
|1||H: Scott Schoeneweis (1)|
BS: Daniel Bard (1)
L: Jonathan Papelbon (0-1)
|2B: Mike Cameron (1)|
Dustin Pedroia (1)