Daisuke Matsuzaka came up lemons again in his second straight postseason start last night, going 4 2/3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs as the Red Sox find themselves in a 2-1 hole in the ALCS as the Indians prevailed, 4-2.
The Red Sox sleepwalked through this one against Jake Westbrook, who the Sox had hit better than .380 against in 2007. Kudos to Westbrook, who pitched a terrific game as his sinker was working beautifully. But the Red Sox had a golden chance to put the hurt on him early, but like too many times in 2007, they let a great opportunity go to waste. They wound up hitting into three DPs, and Jason Varitek's two-run shot in the seventh got the score back to 4-2, but they did absolutely nothing after that.
With bases loaded and no outs in the second, Jason Varitek hit a short fly to left that Manny Ramirez could not score on. And then Coco Crisp rapped into a double play to kill the inning. Kenny Lofton hit a two-run homer off Matsuzaka to make the second inning that much more painful.
But one of the bigger stories of the night was the absolutely absymal home plate umpiring on the part of Brian Gorman. The guy's strike zone was about 10 feet across the plate. He called strikes on both teams that were clearly balls, and the most memorable one was a 3-0 inside fastball on Manny Ramirez with a man on in the sixth. Manny eventually hit into a double play to kill yet another inning. But it might have been a far different inning had Gorman called that pitch ball four.
I've said this before and I'll keep on saying it. The umpiring is in the worst shape I have ever seen in my entire life as a baseball fan, and MLB really needs to do something about it. I have never seen more blown calls than in 2007. They have to weed out incompetents like Gorman and get the standard back up again. Being an umpire shouldn't be a lifetime position, like being pope or a Supreme Court justice. Gorman should be ashamed of the game he called last night. It was beyond putrid.
Now the Red Sox HAVE to win tonight in Cleveland. Terry Francona is giving the ball to Tim Wakefield, who has not pitched since September 29. Tito has earned my trust as a manager, especially in the postseason. He showing faith in Wake, who's always been a team guy. But he's passing on Josh Beckett on three days rest. Tonight in Cleveland, the forecast is for rain and possible thunderstorms. So right now, a rainout today may not be the worst thing for the Red Sox, as Game 4 would be played tomorrow night, and Beckett could be brought back on normal rest, and be available on three days rest for a Game 7 on Sunday.
But if they do play tonight, they have to hit Paul Byrd, Cleveland's starter, early and get some runs for Wakefield and take the pressure off him. Otherwise, they could find themselves in big trouble. They need a much better effort tonight, assuming Mother Nature does cooperate.