Here's an imponderable: what exactly happens to the Red Sox offense when Josh Beckett is pitching? The numbers are startling -- he is by far the least supported pitcher on the team, despite being its clear ace this season. What gives?
Last night the Sox managed just three runs against the dreaded Unknonwn Pitcher in Blake Beavan, all of them scored after Beckett left. And portable defibrillator units would remain at the ready even once Beckett was out and our best relievers took the hill: first, Daniel Bard ended up in a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth, which he escaped with sheer velocity alone. Then, in the ninth, a Jonathan Papelbon pitch was sent soaring into the air off the bat of Brendan Ryan, representing the tying run and seemingly destined for the Monster seats, until it finally, somehow, fell harmlessly, unbelievably foul.
Despite the roller-coaster, the game still went in the Red Sox' favor in the end, representing Terry Francona's 1000th career win, a three-game lead above the Yankees in the standings, and a reprieve from Icy-Hot in everybody's jockstraps courtesy of a certain Texan on the team.
But even with all that went on between the lines, it was a pair of things that happened outside them which really sparked conversation and debate as the game went on.
The Dumbass Fan
First, there was the Dumbass Fan, a fairly straightforward instance of idiocy in the stands. In the bottom of the seventh, with the Sox actually trailing 1-0, a man on, and two outs, Marco Scutaro hit a bounding grounder down the right field line, where it evaded Ichiro and leapt into the air close to the stands. Not into the stands, mind you, but close -- close enough for a man wearing no team colors (so we can't be sure whose side he's on) to actually reach out and catch the ball, making it a ground rule double and stalling Jason Varitek at third base.
The Red Sox would continue the two-out rally, as well as their seventh-inning magic, and Jacoby Ellsbury probably saved that guy's bacon from an angry beatdown on Lansdowne Street with a bases-clearing single to center field that made the score 3-1, Red Sox. The fan was also deservedly kicked out by Fenway Security (and actually seemed not to understand why). But I'm still steamed when I think about it. Add Dumbass Interfering A-Holes to my list of ballpark pet peeves (alongside Foul Ball Dudes).
Oh, and the idiots in Sox jerseys who high-fived Dumbass Fan after his catch? Should've been kicked out with him. Seriously. There should be zero tolerance for this shit.
Meanwhile, also turning cranks last night was a less straightforward off-field incident. Jerry Remy was caught on an open MLB.tv mic between innings apparently lambasting Mike Lowell, as Lowell stood for his third standing ovation in two days, calling him an "arrogant athlete" and telling him to "go home."
What gives this thing legs was Remy's apparently serious tone, the fact that he said it almost under his breath when he thought no one was listening, and the fact that Mike Lowell had made a somewhat ill-advised comment about the pay differential between athletes and broadcasters while visiting the booth the night before, which may have left Remy stinging.
The debate went on and on last night about whether Remy was serious. Personally, having listened to the comments and the tone in which they were made, I find it hard to believe he was just giving Lowell a good-natured ribbing. There seemed to be a real tone of digust in Remy's voice. But there were just as many people prepared to dismiss it as idle banter last night as there were people offended on Mike Lowell's behalf. So far I haven't seen the comments addressed officially anywhere, so it remains an open subject.
Even if Remy was joking, the way he said it made him come off bitter. I know there's more to both Mike Lowell and Jerry Remy's lives than the happy-go-lucky show they both put on for our benefit, both being entertainers, after all, but I just can't shake the weird Death to Smoochy vibe Remy put out with those comments. And I hope the air will eventually be cleared, somehow.