Wednesday afternoon was an important one. It was the final game of a three-game series with Seattle, whom the Sox had already thoroughly trounced, so the issue at hand wasn't necessarily a win.
The key moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Buchholz found himself falling apart after giving up a game-tying home run to Jose Vidro. This is the second time I have felt, watching Buchholz, that he was melting down mentally after things didn't go his way.
But as soon as Tito headed out and signaled to the bullpen, the more important matter was not on the mound but loping over the outfield grass toward it: Justin Masterson, in his first relief appearance.
Buchholz had been tried out of the 'pen last year, but as I recall, it didn't seem a good fit for him. He's still extremely inexperienced despite his no-hitter accomplishment, and seems better suited to the starter's routine.
Masterson, in the meantime, has been cool as a cucumber since coming up. It makes sense to try to plug the hole in our bullpen from the inside out first, and it makes sense to do it with one of the kids. Masterson seems the best candidate.
But that didn't mean he'd perform well. Relief pitching is very different from starting, and not every pitcher can make that adjustment.
Now, granted, he got to cut his teeth out of the bullpen on the worst team in baseball, but it was still an encouraging sign, to say the least, when he came out and gave the sox 2 and 1/3 scoreless innings, which turned out to be absolutely crucial as the game would end up going into the 12th.
I almost had reason to title a post FOR SALE $0.75 with Craig Hansen's picture under it when he loaded the bases and almost gave the game away again in the bottom of the 12th, but he got out of it, so I'm trying to forget about it. I held the offense more accountable than Hansen anyway, since it took them four innings to string together some runs. We shouldn't have had to go to Hansen at all.
So if Masterson works out, maybe they ought to trade for an offensive player. You know. A guy that could bat in front of Manny, get clutch hits, help boost that road winning percentage, and be a leader in the clubhouse.
Oh, I see. We have that guy coming tonight? In time for a three game weekend series against the Yankees, who are two behind us in the loss column? And Josh Beckett and Joba Chamberlain are tonight's starting pitchers??
Buckle the hell up, people. It's on like Vince Vaughn.