Boston Red Sox 2, St. Louis Cardinals 9
I decided before the game started that I really wanted to watch this one instead of listen to it, so I paid the $3.95 for rights to the game for the day on MLB.tv. This move turned out to be a big mistake, as I have to say today was the angriest I've gotten at a Red Sox game since at least last July and I have a feeling that watching made it worse.
Right from the beginning, there was trouble. Johnny Damon singles...and then Renteria grounds into a double play, his first of two and one of three over all. The Sox only left six men on base tonight, because they were too busy doubling them off. In the bottom of the inning, Clement gives up a number of long outs and a two run homer to Jim Edmonds, all symptomatic of the troubles that would plague him for the first three innings of the game: his location was off. Tonight was not the Abe Lincoln we know and love. The Sox scored in the second off a Varitek solo shot and things started to look up...until Clement fell apart in the bottom of the second and gave up four runs. He picked up after the third...but then had to come out after the fourth (and two straight perfect innings), because the Sox mounted a rally and needed a real batter for the pitchers spot. Some times I hate the National League.
The Sox pick up another run in the fifth, Halama's pitching and although the Sox still can't really score, the pitching has settled down...until the real weirdness starts. Halama hits Larry Walker with a pitch in the sixth. It was pretty clearly accidental. The next inning, Cardinal reliever Al Reyes hits Varitek with a pitch, in a pretty clear case of retaliation for an accident. In the bottom of the inning, Matt Mantei comes on and retaliates back by hitting second baseman Mark Grudzielanek. Both sides are warned. Later in the inning, Mantei throws what amounted to a wild pitch and hits Larry Walker. Tony La Russa comes out screaming bloody murder and Mantei gets tossed. I am, of course, estatic at this debacle, especially when I am reminded by the NESN announcers that this ejection will probably result in a suspension. Actually, because the MLB discipline office hates the Red Sox, it WILL result in a suspension, along with one for Terry Francona. And, to top it all off, Reyes hits Youkilis at the top of the eighth inning, in the wrists (just to be malicious, I guess) and gets himself and his manager tossed as well. The only good part was that Youkilis wasn't hurt, but at this point I am screaming for a fight to break out, like it almost did when Mantei hit Walker in the seventh. I am willing to go on record right now and say that there will be a fight tomorrow unless things go very smoothly for the Sox; I think they're reached that level of frustration with St. Louis right now.
In the ninth, the Sox mount a mini-rally: Ortiz singles. Millar, batting for Manny, who had a dismal night, flies out on the second pitch. Jay Payton, batting for Nixon, who also did poorly tonight (not that most of the offense didn't) hits a single. Varitek singles. Bases are loaded. Things look like they could be happening. But then Ramon Vasquez, pinch hitting for Alan Embree/Bill Mueller* lines out to center and Mark Bellhorn, does his classic strikeout routine to end the game. With the bases loaded. But then again, it was that sort of night. I'm throwing my hat on the floor with gusto.
Cardinals fans: take no offense at what I'm about to say, because I think you have a really nice looking ball park in St. Louis and I'd like to see it (or its replacement) at some point and it's pretty clear that the fans get dressed up for the game...but your grounds crew is terrible. First there was Lake Busch back in World Series Game 3, then tonight, players and umpires were slipping on the grass and the Cardinals got a hit at one point because the ball took a ridiculous hop over Renteria's head...not because of the way it was it. Because it hit a poorly groomed spot in the infield dirt. I just checked the forecast for St. Louis from yesterday and there wasn't any rain...so what's the excuse? Do they pay the grounds crew in beer, which is consumed before the field is cared for?
Let's see, while I'm complaining: did the scheduling people sit down before the season started and decide to screw over the Sox? The past three series have been against division leaders. The next one is going to be against a team (the Cubs) who would probably be division leaders themselves if their team wasn't attacked by the injury gods for some unknown offense. The last time they had a day off, they had to play in the Hall of Fame game. Yes, I know that the end of the year will be much kinder, when all of those missing home games are made up for and Boston plays 10,000 games against Tampa Bay. I suppose I should be grateful; the Yankees are playing mediocre teams and can't buy a win** and the standings didn't change that much tonight, since Baltimore didn't win either. These roadtrips are starting to get to me, though.
Tomorrow night Boomer tries to avoid a sweep against Chris Carpenter in a 7:05 start. I'll be waiting for that cathartic fight to start and hope no one gets hurt. GO SOX!!!
* - Another thing I hate about the National League: as fun as the strategic substitutions are, it can be really hard to remember who's batting for whom.
** - Ha, I made a pun.