I had foreseen the inevitability of David Ortiz’s grand slam. The set-up was all too perfect: the score was 6-1 in favor of the visitors, an erratic closer walked three batters in succession, and the personification of clutch crouched in the box.
However, I had also envisaged the local nine coming up short in the bottom of the ninth. It was the story of 2010 writ small: inconsistent pitching allowing just enough runs so that the sputtering offense couldn’t overcome the deficit. To be sure there are individual flashes of brilliance like Ortiz’s grand slam, a number of near no-hitters and perfect games, and a treasure chest of defensive gems.
From the start of 2010 the team was never at full strength and yet they were within a stone’s throw of leading the AL East for most of the season. The losses of Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez to injury were almost contemporaneous with their team coming within a half-game of first place in the division. Since then the Red Sox have not been able to keep pace with the Yankees or Rays.
In an odd season one of the most bizarre plays unfolded in the first. Martinez dropped strike three to Ryan Raburn but the ball bounced back towards Jon Lester. The pitcher gathered the ball and threw to Kevin Youkilis for the final out of the inning. Youkilis also added another pitcher to his casualty list: Armando Galarraga was pulled in the fifth inning because the Red Sox first baseman’s comebacker struck the hurler on the right ankle. Consider it payback for all the times Youkilis was amongst the league leaders in hit by pitches.
Not just in the standings but in the trading arena has Boston trailed New York. The Yankees have acquired Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and Kerry Wood. With the non-waiver deadline looming there have been no press releases out of 4 Yawkey Way.
There are rumblings of Manny Delcarmen needing a change of scenery and the pursuit of Joe Beimel and Sean Burnett, both southpaw relievers. Such transactions are like spackling over sizable cracks, fractures that might be late for even Pedroia to fix.
But better to stand pat than to reenact Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell.
|Game 103: July 30, 2010|
|6||W: Robbie Weinhardt (1-1)|
|2B: Will Rhymes (2)|
HR: Jhonny Peralta – 2 (9)
|5||L: Jon Lester (11-6)|
|2B: Victor Martinez – 2 (22), Adrian Beltre (30)|
HR: Marco Scutaro (7), David Ortiz (22)