Monday, October 12, 2009
This has not been a season without frustration for the Sox. They'd go on a stretch when they'd score 6 to 9 runs a game, but the pitching would allow 7 to 10 runs a game. Then they'd go on a stretch when the pitching would keep opponents to 1 to 3 runs. But the offense would score 0 to 2 runs. Occasionally, both would click, and the Sox would be unbeatable for a ten day stretch. But that didn't happen against the Angels.
Did Jonathan Papelbon have a good year? That's a question that will now be asked for at least a month. He had 38 saves, in 41 attempts. That's 92.7% conversion. That's an excellent rate. His WHIP was excellent, as was his ERA. But was he the dominant Papelbon we grew accustomed to? No.
This was an awful way to lose. It seemed as though Fenway Park and October had once again conspired for a storybook Red Sox come-from-behind series triumph. Or at least a chance to stave off elimination for another day.
But when you put yourself down 2-0, you run risks. Sometimes an error will cost you a game. Sometimes a missed call by an ump. Sometimes a lack of clutch hitting, or a bad managerial decision. This time it was a closer who brought nothing to the table.
You go down 2-0, you're on the edge, where even a slight breeze will knock you off. And Sunday that slight breeze was an ineffective closer.
And give credit to the Angels, who thoroughly outplayed the Sox these last 3 games. Their pitching was better. Their bullpen. Their offense. Their defense. Actually, the Sox may have run the bases slightly better than the Angels, which is ironic because people accredit Mike Scioscia with being some sort of baserunning guru.
There's work to be done. The Sox need more pitching. Who doesn't? They need to build a more consistent offense, instead of simply hoping that 4 guys within 6 lineup spots are all hitting hot at the same times.
And honestly, Red Sox Nation, you'd only be surprised by the way this series went if you had refused to see the truth: that this team can be as hot as Scarlett Johansson, and as cold as a dead penguin's ass. This was a bipolar club.
Pitchers and catchers report in... well, I don't know, but they will report. And that's what I love about baseball.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola