A Bad Case of Renteria
If the World Series keeps going like this, I'm going to need to keep the Kaopectate, Atavan, paper bags and portable defibrillator unit at the ready at all times.
First there was Ortiz' monstrous three-run homer in the first, and chasing Woody Williams, which of course made me worry that too much was going right, as the knuckler was knuckling indeed for our man Wake.
It was a triumphant sight, to say the least, when he was able to take the mound for the Sox in World Series Game 1 for the first time in his star-crossed Red Sox tenure. In a way, simply his appearance there felt like a victory. Until the fourth, when he walked what felt like eight batters in a row and threw approximately two hundred pitches out of the strike zone.
Once again, here we were in a playoff game screaming, "Get him out! Get him out!!"
Luckily, Bo was perfecting his World Series smirk out in the pen, and he came in spitting nails, his cornrows afire. He threw some of the nastiest cutters I've ever witnessed in his first inning of work, and Mad Mike picked up where he left off. It wasn't terribly soothing (it took at least four innings to get my teeth un-gritted after Millar threw past Mueller into the dugout and allowed a 7-2 lead to be officially blown), but it was steadying.
This morning as I ran errands in the car I heard the WEEI guys talking about the predominant rallying phrase in the Red Sox dugout during games: "Pick 'im up." So, say, Johnny Damon strikes out while in his ALCS slump? "Pick 'im up." A starter gets shelled? "Pick 'im up."
It was a phrase I found myself latching onto as the game wound through its whiplash-inducing reversals. Because just as the pitching stabilized, into the breach came Manny Ramirez, so overjoyed at his first post-season RBI that, slowing to celebrate on his way to first, he only made it about halfway to second before escaping a run-down only with a bellyflop and the fact that no Cardinal was protecting first.
But it gets worse. With one out in the eighth and Keith Foulke bearing down hard for each precious strike, Renteria singled to left, and Manny not only let it fall but juggled it for what felt like a few solid minutes while a run scored. On the next play--the next play! Manny appeared to have a bead on the ball and appeared to be preparing to catch it, but the only way I can figure it is that the left field grass suddenly rose up and swallowed his left foot, as he clotheslined himself and went down in a heap with the ball glancing off the back of his glove. And the tying run scored.
Among the mob of thoughts crowding my head were the following: Manny, you asshole.
It's only the first game. It's okay.
What do you mean it's okay!!?! We have to go to a National League park Tuesday.
It is imperative, imperative to win these games at home.
Manny, you asshole.
By the time we were in the bottom of the eighth with one on, one out and the score tied at nine, I'd fallen into a morass of pessimism. Four errors. FOUR. After only one in the ALCS.
What the...we don't deserve to win this game, with the way we've played...
Dammit, why does this always have to...
Which is when Bellhorn slapped a blooper of a home run against the Freddy-Kreuger-looking Julian Tavarez, and its "clang" off the foul pole was strangely appropriate, as if an emphatic message from the Sox to all doubters, myself included: Shut up.
Is it a measure of the Red Sox' tortured history or the measure of my worthiness as a fan that even after the pennant the Sox just gave me, I continue to allow the doubts to creep in?