The headline on today's mlb.com game-preview piece (which of course has since disappeared) was "Sox always happy to play D-Rays." That about sums it up.
Wake and Dougie were cruising, all but high-fiving over beers in the dugout, such was their fierce dominance over the Devil Rays. It even seemed like Papi was feeling better, as he got in a couple of playful pushups to the delight of the crowd after an inside pitch knocked him onto his face in the batter's box.
But it was not without drama, again as a result of the suckitude of the offense. As I predicted, today saw no shortage of venom for Eric Gagne, but again I say unto you, people of Red Sox Nation, our offense this year just sucks. It's just a fact--win or lose, and excruciatingly often when there are men on base. Even when they won this past Saturday, "it could have been an even bigger rout, except that the Red Sox went just 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base." (*)
Tonight was no exception; as late as the seventh inning, it was 1-0, Sox, but with five hits on the board for the local 9. It wound up being a 3-0 save situation for Papelbon, even with the opportunity to have at the soft underbelly of Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitching all night. This is only bordering on acceptable from this lineup, and it's only because our pitching is so uncommonly brilliant that the offense hasn't been more exposed.
Come on, people. We know this. You're not going to tell me that we really believe, in our heart of hearts, that it's been just poor old Eric Gagne, singlehandedly carrying the burden of Team Suck Factor for the weekend? Yeesh.
And even if it was? He's made exactly three appearances. Let's not go throwing him under the Peter Pan Express just yet.
On the bright side, a save situation for Papelbon is always a welcome thing of beauty. He brought the heat and the drama both tonight, finishing off the first two hitters with 97-mph cheese and an abrupt left-face as they were rung up. A walk made things a little interesting, but finally an awkward bouncing grounder to Pedroia sealed things up, and hopefully we can put that ugly weekend in Baltimore behind us now and work on eating the D-Rays for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week.
This just in, however, from the NESN studios: the Orioles rallied to tie it up against Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees won 8-7 on a walkoff in the end. At least the Orioles are trying help us out this time around. But it's the Orioles, and apparently the baseball gods command a pennant race after all.