It was very, very clear that the team did not get my memo. I specifically said that we need to play better baseball, baseball that was more appropriate and commensurate to the stage on which we currently find ourselves, namely the World Series. That means that we need to be at our absolute very best, and it was quite obvious from last night’s performance that we simply weren’t.
Let’s start with Peavy. His outing was great but short. He gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four. He threw sixty-four pitches. And he only pitched four innings.
His first inning was his worst. He gave up a single, a sac bunt, an RBI single, another single, and another RBI single. Then he ended the inning on two quick outs, went one-two-three in the second and third, and pitched cleanly out of a nobody-out bases-loaded situation in the fourth.
Doubront relieved him, pitching around his own jam in the fifth and going one-two-three in the sixth. Breslow took over in the seventh and continues to have issues. I shouldn’t have to say that this is epically the wrong time for issues of any kind.
He gave up a single, hit a batter, and was relieved by Tazawa. Although Tazawa should not have given up a double, it’s also true that he shouldn’t have had to inherit runners either, both of which scored. The inning ended four batters later.
Workman pitched around two baserunners in the eighth, and then we lost the game in the ninth.
In order to understand the similarity in disappointment and frustration between Game Three and Game Two, we obviously have to talk about the offense. While we only sent up the minimum through three, we showed signs of life in the fourth, when Ellsbury singled and Papi walked. We finally scored in the fifth. Bogaerts led it off with a triple and scored on a force out by Carp to reduce the deficit to one.
Victorino led off the sixth with a walk and scored on a single by Nava to tie the game at two. After the Cards’ two run double in the seventh, the score was 4-2, and I was really hoping that we weren’t about to lose by the same score we used to lose Game Two.
Fortunately, we managed to tie the game at four in the eighth. Ellsbury singled, Victorino got hit, Pedroia grounded out and moved both runners into scoring position, and Papi walked intentionally to load the bases. Nava grounded into a force out to score Ellsbury, and Bogaerts singled to score Victorino. That was very small ball in a bases-loaded situation; that wasn’t exactly the blow-this-game-wide-open scoring play that I was hoping for. But it allowed us to pull even, and we took what we could get.
That brings us back to the ninth. We went down in order in the top of the inning and were hoping to force the game into extras. Workman recorded the first out of the inning and gave up a single, and Uehara came in. Uehara, as we all know, has been exceptional in the closer’s role. Exceptional. So it was not unreasonable to expect him to take us into extras, where we’d figure out a way to win, big hits or no big hits.
He gave up a double. By itself, a double is no big deal. And giving up a double in that situation, since there was only one other baserunner, was not, by itself, a problem.
It became a problem because Middlebrooks committed interference at third. Uehara’s next batter had reached on a fielder’s choice. The first runner was successfully thrown out at home, thanks to one of Pedroia’s signature diving catches. Salty then threw the ball to third because he saw the runner trying to get back there. But it was a bad throw, and in Middlebrooks fell down trying to make the catch. He didn’t end up making the catch, but apparently he did end up impeding the runner’s path home. So Middlebrooks got caught up with the baserunner, and soon he was just running toward home. Fortunately, it looked like it wouldn’t matter because Nava made an excellent throw home. But third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Middlebrooks’s actions an obstruction. And we lost, 5-4.
It’s always possible that that call was debatable. In my opinion, umpires have to be very, very careful not to affect what is supposed to be a game’s natural outcome. And while there are rules on the books that explain and determine what is and is not obstruction, one also has to consider the fact that it’s also possible that Middlebrooks did the only thing he could do given the circumstances. Salty threw the ball; it wasn’t a great throw, but Middbelrooks still had to catch it. And he did the only way he could do; he can’t be expected to simply not try to catch a ball, and there was no way out of that situation. The whole thing was a complete mess. I don’t recall having seen a play so messy and confusing, especially not during a postseason or a World Series. I was too devastated after I understood that it had cost us the game to register what had happened, but after I saw it on replay a few times I was able to add some fury and outrage to that devastation. Losing because it’s blatantly all your fault is a really hard thing to accept. Losing based on a called play that can be questioned, especially during the World Series, is undeniably infuriating. Of course, Joyce explained later that rules are rules, whether or not there was no alternative for Middlebrooks. But to have the entire game decided on a play like that is just really, really hard for me to get on board with.
It’s bad enough that we lost. It’s even worse that we lost during the World Series, on a walkoff on the road no less, and worse still that this has created a 2-1 series deficit. But I also am really uncomfortable with the fact that we lost our second home game and have now lost our first away game. We’re supposed to be the team that doesn’t let things like that get to us. We’re supposed to be the team that can reestablish our momentum anywhere and carry it with us anywhere at any time. I don’t care that now we’re stuck on the road. We have no choice but to pick up, and fast, in St. Louis.
In other news, the Bruins lost to the Devils, 4-3.
Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
Read Full Post »