Four score and seven years ago, when this game first began, we were at least prepared for the possibility of a nice, predictable loss behind the struggling Clay Buchholz, and a few hardy souls may have dared hope for the Red Sox to stave off the sweep with a small miracle or two.
No one could have predicted the kind of scorched earth that would be left at the Fens today when all was said and done.
That's not to say Buchholz wasn't true to form; in fact, we now find ourselves in the position of longing for Daisuke to save the rotation. Not good.
Then there was the brightest moment of the game, the moment of highest hopes, when Will Middlebrooks stepped to the plate in the fifth and belted his first Major League home run. Which just happened to be a game-tying grand slam, over the Monster and onto the roof of the parking garage across Lansdowne Street.
It was almost cartoonish, how hangdog everyone* was right up until the moment Middlebrooks made contact, and how shocked and overjoyed we all were beginning with the moment his no-doubt shot headed for the Monster.
...until the eighth inning brought us back to reality.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia got things started by dropping a foul tip into his mitt, allowing Adam Jones to continue batting. Jones then reached on an "infield single" to (read: clank off the glove of) Vicente Padilla. After Matt Wieters flied out to center, Salty kept the O's rally going by throwing the ball into center field on Adam Jones' steal of second.
There was some measure of redemption for Salty as his sacrifice fly tied up the game again in the bottom of the inning. But as it would turn out, tying the game would not be enough. Instead, it would be the beginning of a long day's journey into the ninth circle of baseball hell.
That same inning, after David Ortiz doubled, he was lifted for Darnell McDonald, at which point, unbeknownst to us, the fate of the Red Sox was sealed.
In the 10th inning, instead of Big Papi, Darnell came up to bat in a key spot with two outs. And, predictably -- some might say inevitably -- just a few minutes later, NESN would cut to commercial wth Darnell standing toe to toe with the home plate umpire, arguing over the third called strike.
In a game and after a series seemingly designed to leave every last one of them an depleted shell of a human being, the bullpen pitched valiantly over the course of the many innings that followed. But ultimately, both bullpens would just plain run out of bodies.
So it was that Darnell McDonald would come on to pitch -- yes, pitch -- in the 17th inning, an inning which went like this: walk, caught stealing, double to left, walk, Monster shot by Adam Jones to make the game 9-6 O's.
If it was debatable whether Darnell should've been playing instead of Papi in the 10th, it was beyond argument that he never should have been on the pitcher's mound in the first place. In the bottom of the 16th, Marlon Byrd reached on an error at third base, and then Mike Aviles hit a double to deep center. But, inexplicably and indefensibly, as Byrd chugged around third base he was sent home, where he was out by a good ten feet, and ended the inning for good measure.
But wait! Things would get still more ridiculous! Hapless Orioles DH Chris Davis pitched the bottom of the 17th after Darnell served up his meatball, and given he was facing Ryan Sweeney, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez, all bets were still off.
Sweeney reached on an infield single. Pedroia walked. Gonzalez can now say he capped off an 0-8 day by striking out against a freaking DH.
And then who should come up to bat but -- you guessed it -- Darnell McDonald. He took one strike before grounding into a game-ending double play, becoming both the losing pitcher and the last hitter of the game at the same time.
The Red Sox are now 4-10 at Fenway this year. They've lost 6 of their last 7, and sit in the basement of the AL East with an overall record of 11-16.
It's not just the fact that they're losing that bothers me...it's the way they're losing, in such ridiculous and improbable fashion, all the while giving us hope right till the very end. If they're going to suck, they could at least suck utterly and spare us the ulcer flare-ups, that's what I say. Or, if there's going to be some kind of miraculous turnaround, well, there's no time like the present.
* Full disclosure: when I say 'everyone' I'm basically referring to the people I talk to on Twitter.