I expected to see a baseball game at Fenway last night, but what did I see? A score reminiscent of many NFL games.
A 10-1 laugher in the sixth inning over the Toronto Blue Jays turned into a game that made just about all of Red Sox Nation do a collective sweat. This looked like a game the Sox could coast to a win, but that didn't happen.
The Sox haven't scored runs for Daisuke Matsuzaka lately, as it seemed like he would always go out there, pitch seven solid innings and have nothing to show for it, as it seemed the offense would always give him two runs or less.
But last night, the Sox gave him 10 runs after just four innings, so it seemed like a victory was assured. But Dice-K did everything to make it interesting. He was raked over the coals in the sixth, as he gave up six runs in the inning, including a three-run homer to Troy Glaus. Terry Francona finally came to his senses and got him out of there, but Javier Lopez allowed two more runs, as he couldn't find the plate. Manny Delcarmen finally got the Sox out of the inning, but Toronto scored eight runs, and a nine run lead was suddenly a one-run lead. And if not for a sliding catch by Jacoby Ellsbury, it actually might have been tied.
The game was one of those "nothing ever comes easy with the Sox" games. The Yankees had lost to the Mariners this afternoon, so a golden opportunity to put some more distance between them looked like it was rapidly evaporating. Watching the last four innings was pure hell last night.
But the Sox offense answered back the eight runs with three more of their own, and the Red Sox bullpen shut down Toronto the rest of the way to gain a 13-10 win. It took over four hours, and probably took about five years off my life watching that lead drop.
Getting the Ws is most important, but Dice-K looked horrific in that sixth inning. He pitched five good innings before the roof caved in. In his last two outings, he's given up 12 earned runs in the last 11+ innings. You have to wonder if the longer American season has taken a toll on him. In Japan, they play 140 regular season games, and Dice-K pitched in a six-man rotation.
Coming down the stretch, it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox use Dice-K. I would bet Tito will try to get him more rest, especially when the postseason rolls around.
The Red Sox are now 7 up in the American League East, and with the Yankees loss at home, the Red Sox Magic Number is now at the number of the man pictured in this post. Can you remember him? He played on some Sox teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. I always liked this guy....one Carlos Quintana. (Thanks to my friend Adam in NYC for the photo.)
Yes, I could have used Dice-K's pic, or that guy who wore his number before him. (His name currently escapes me.) But I don't write about Carlos Quintana every day on this blog.