Even considering the Red Sox were ahead four runs going in to this inning, and that Fruto was clearly sent in for mop-up duties, this has to have been the single most embarrassing half-inning of baseball I have ever seen, and the most embarrassing I ever hope to see.
I mean, the game itself was kind of a self-parody anyway; one only need watch the highlights of cut-together Red Sox homers from the game to get the idea of just how wretched a game this was on the Seattle side (FOX had a funny way of putting such a montage together, with the William Tell Overture as the background music). But a track meet can happen to any team. Emiliano Fruto is the kind of thing that only happens once in a great long while, and should really only ever happen to the Yankees.
One out in the top of the ninth, with Manny at the plate, is when I tuned in; I had been dorking out at my friends Andy and Andy's house watching Dr. Who all night. And Mr. Fruto seemed to be following a pitching strategy of hucking the ball in only the most general, loosely defined vicinity of the batters' box. Ball Four went clear over Manny's head, but where any other pitcher might have earned a mound charge with such a delivery, Manny merely collected anything that had not been securely fastened to his body, namely, his batting helmet and bat, and went to first base, probably glad to be out of Fruto's line of fire (presumably).
Jason Varitek's at-bat went no better. It was clear that there were two things preventing Fruto's immediate and, one would imagine, somewhat impolite removal from the game by his manager--1) the fact that, already conceding the loss, they didn't want to have to burn another pitcher and 2) even the other mop-up pitcher still needed several minutes to warm up. As Fruto flailed about on the mound, and ball after ball came screaming in on wildly varying trajectories, Varitek stood in the batters' box, clearing his throat, looking around, and trying to salvage some semblance of dignity within that whole scene.
It was truly embarrassing and terrible. Somehow Fruto got Trot Nixon to foul out, to derisive cheers from everyone in attendance (I think at this point even Red Sox fans were rooting for this ordeal to end).
More derisive cheers after Fruto got to two strikes on Coco Crisp. But then Coco hit a sharp single to left, and in the final indignity, a throw to the plate was way off-line, scoring Manny. Finally, Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Fruto was relieved. A little while later, Timlin had sealed off the final out of the game and it was finally over.
Like I said. A loss that embarrassing should really only happen to the Yankees. Or maybe Oakland, depending on what mood I'm in. But poor old Seattle. What did they ever do to deserve this?
Just the same, the game of baseball shows mercy to no man. Here's hoping the Sox tee off on them again today. Every one of these wins is much-needed.
P.S. Apparently San Francisco is now trying to become the Dallas Cowboys of MLB and field the All-Asshole Team for the League; it was announced yesterday that that's where Hillenbrand will end up. Hopefully this also puts the kibosh on the Mike Lowell rumors.
P.P.S. Meanwhile, how enjoyable was it to see Man-Hug Fest 06 commence in earnest yesterday? Here's a video with more cuteness from Channel 38, via Joy of Sox. Watch it while you can, before they pull it for the, you know, copyright infringement stuff and all. The part where Trot runs in slow motion alone is worth your time.
P.P.P.S. Why did no one tell me about this?
I swear this is the end of the P.S.es: When Andy saw a photo of Kason (sic) Gabbard on the television last night, he immediately went to his Sling Blade voice.