Toronto's stadium -- Skydome, the Rogers Centre, whatever you want to call it -- is my least favorite venue to watch the Sox play in. What might be a capacity crowd at Fenway disappears into its cavernous environs. When the roof is closed, the game almost seems shrouded in gray mist, so drab are the lights and the worn turf.
Against this fittingly gloomy backdrop, last night the Red Sox once again came within a game of .500, -- repeatedly coming back and tying the score, valiantly clawing for the W, even -- and still lost.
Personally, I was especially annoyed with Lester, not because he had a bad start, but because of the Lackey-like attitude he showed when calls didn't go his way. Staring in after an egregious call is one thing. Snapping your glove around the ball on the throw back, and other subtle gestures of frustration, are customary. But there are few things I like seeing LESS than a starting pitcher outright whining at an umpire about balls and strikes, the way Lester did last night.
He obviously didn't have his best stuff, but it got to the point where Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Dustin Pedroia had to step between him and home plate umpire Paul Emmel. This was in just the first inning, hardly enough time for Emmel to have established much of a pattern of inconsistency, or other such true injustice. Lester would still walk off the field in full pout after that confrontation with Emmel, muttering curses all the way from mound to dugout.
I could be accused of a bit of hypocrisy here, being so fed up with Lester's 'tude when Josh Beckett spitting nails always seems to make my day. Thing is, when Beckett comes off the field howling curses, it's usually at himself. Case in point -- his last start. He had a clean first inning, but gave up fly ball outs. His language as he came off the field was pretty clearly lip-readable: "F'in fly balls!" He wasn't bitching about someone else, let alone the umpire. And I don't recall anyone having to step between Beckett and the ump while the game was in progress, ever. (Other players are, of course, a different story.)
Anyway, maybe this loss was just meant to happen. That's honestly how it felt to me even before I tuned in last night, as it also fits a more recent pattern of winning three, and then dropping two. So let's just say that with Lackey on the hill in that godforsaken echo chamber tonight, I don't have high hopes for a short-series split, either.
But it could happen. They could win -- because it would bring them within a game of .500 again, and let them repeat this lovely process of getting our hopes up, and then stumbling at the exact moment those hopes peak. Who knows how long this could go on?