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Most people are probably going to come down on the bullpen for tonight's loss, the third in four games in which they were handed a lead and promptly blew it.
I can't say I disagree, necessarily. It is worrisome to see Daniel Bard, especially, first give up a towering blast to right field off the bat of Alberto Callaspo that just barely grazed past the pole foul. After that, to quote Eckersley, "Bard wanted no part of him," and walked Callaspo, putting him on base with David DeJesus, whom he'd inherited from Hideki Okajima, at third. Willie Bloomquist pinch-ran for Callaspo and stole second while Bard K'd Billy Butler.
And then Rick Ankiel, the pitcher-turned-outfielder, already a triple shy of the cycle on the night, cleaned Bard's clock and the bases with a broken-bat blooper into shallow left, scoring both runners to take the lead and eventually, the win.
But that's not to say the offense was all lily-white in this. Despite getting to Kyle Davies (thanks to a manufactured run and then a titanic two-run straightaway-center blast by JD Drew in the top of the fourth) and summoning what was supposed to be a pinata of a Kansas City bullpen, the Sox offense couldn't capitalize on a dizzying parade of journeymen who before this game had collectively amassed a 13.50 ERA (small sample size, and citing ERA revealing me to be a know-nothing cretin notwithstanding).
They also created several woulda-coulda-shoulda situations on the basepaths, beginning with a gaffe by Jacoby Ellsbury trying to stretch a double in the first inning, and followed by an abortive steal attempt by JD Drew in the top of the seventh. And not capitalizing on three walks in one inning? What's up with that?
The inning I'm sure the hitters would most love to have back, though, was the top of the third, where the Sox loaded the bases on Davies, and then were left holding their collective you-know-whats, sans runs, after V-Mart grounded into a double play.
If it hadn't been for the two nights that came before -- if it wasn't now constituting a mini-trend -- I'm not sure the offense wouldn't be taking just as much heat as the 'pen assuredly will for this game. Run prevention vs. run production is sometimes a bit of a chicken-and-egg proposition.
Have I ever mentioned how much I adore Dustin Pedroia?
Okay, don't answer that. Cause I'm gonna talk about it again anyway.
I do not understand how he packs so much strength into that little body. The play of the game, to me, was Pedroia's relay to home plate to gun down Jose Guillen after Mike Cameron muffed a fly ball in center -- he threw a strike to V-Mart from second base. Over and over, NESN showed the replay of that throw while Remy gushed. And deservedly so.
Even more impressive -- in a way, anyway -- was Pedroia's appearance against Joakim Soria with two outs in the top of the ninth and the tying run on second in the person of Mike Cameron. Pedroia was quickly down 0-2 on a called strike and a foul, then saw an incredible seven more nasty pitches, five of which he fouled off before getting under the ninth pitch of the at-bat and flying out to end the game.
Obviously it would've been better if he'd gotten a hit or a dinger. But there's something I just love about the breakneck ferocity of Pedroia's determination at all times. He flings his whole body into the infield dirt when he's playing the field or sliding between the bases. He pours every molecule of himself into a rifle-shot from shallow right center to gun down a runner at home. And against a closer the Eck would name as the league's top "unknown closer" in the postgame show, even down to the team's last strike, Pedroia set his jaw in that way he has, glowered out at the mound, and fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch.
In the midst of tonight's debacle, all jutting chin and puffed-up chest, staring down opponents like they'd just killed his dog, Pedroia was an island of awesome,