What is it about this strange, maddening, oddball season? Every time I start feeling my oats, watching our bullpen hang tough after Buch went down in San Fran, watching the offense continue to wail away even as the power in our lineup has been decimated, or chipping away at a pitcher touted as unbeatable, something humbling usually follows. Like last night's game, where the Sox had the chance, at least at one point, with the Yankees trailing Seattle, to tie for first place in the division.
Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards, or more accurately the pitching schedule, as Daisuke, MDC and Okajima (ETA -- it was Ramirez, but the linked post about Oki is worth reading anyway) were torched for 9 runs, while the Sox mustered four, three of them in garbage time. Talk about a buzzkill.
Still, with these Sox...as I was telling my imaginary internet friend Alex Belth over email earlier today, there's starting to be a character emerging here that I really, really like. The sky's the limit on their potential, but their stumbles have been nerve-wracking. And Pedroia going down, as we all know, sucks like a nuclear-powered Electrolux*.
But it has also been pointed out that the Yanks and Sox have been improving despite injuries while the Rays have been faltering even without the Injury Bug slinking around. That said, the Rays didn't look too faltering last night -- maybe this really could end up being the three-horse race everyone predicted after all.
"Nah," was Alex's opinion. "Tampa won't hang...but September is going to be Alka Seltzer time!"
* Even injured, pissed off and cranky, Dustin Pedroia continues to be not just my favorite Sox at this point, but one of my favorite humans on the planet. Mostly because of things like this:
With his left foot still encased in a boot and with strict doctor’s orders not to put weight on said foot, Dustin Pedroia still managed to take grounders at second base yesterday at Fenway Park. There he was, on his knees, scooping up ground balls hit by infield instructor and third base coach Tim Bogar, practicing his fielding and his throwing while unable to walk.
[...]“I failed miserably,’’ Francona said. “He’s a maniac."
Manager Terry Francona, meanwhile, is doing his best to keep Pedroia from doing too much, trying to keep him off the field. That, obviously, didn’t work yesterday. Not that Francona really minded. He understands how difficult this has been and will be for Pedroia.
As Denton put it, "I have to wonder how JD Drew feels seeing that, as he sits out with a stiff neck."