Pete Lepak RedSoxLife.com Staff Writer
Sometimes, we watch a baseball game and think too much like a fan; we hold our collective breaths during each pitch, hoping for a strikeout or a homerun, swearing at the TV when the game doesn't go the Red Sox's way. I am that kind of fan. I have never called the Red Sox "my" team, or ever uttered the embarrassing and hated phase "We looked good tonight." NO, fans, we didn't do anything. We cheer for our team, hope that things go well for the team we support, but never, ever, should a fan say that "we" contributed to a win or loss.
Well, I broke the code today. After a Friday night at a stag party for a friend getting married, I woke up, get some work done around the house, and turned the radio on to listen to WTIC AM 1080 and Joe Castiglione. I listened intently when John Lackey took the mound in the first inning to face the hot hitting Baltimore Orioles. And after giving up four hits in a row to start the game, I muttered to myself, "we SUCK right now!"
Yikes. I did it, I dropped my guard and for a split second, pictured myself in a Red Sox uniform, sucking just as bad as the rest of the team. As a fan, I temporarily forgot that the baseball game is 9 innings long, 27 outs of streaks, luck, skill and drama that many times don't go your team's way. And while I may have stopped believing in the Red Sox after only 1/2 inning Saturday afternoon, they quickly brought me back in by the fourth inning, and had the game won before 8pm. That's what I like about this team; they don't panic, they play ball, they look like they enjoy each other and they are fun to root for. And, if you have read my articles enough times, you know that I think that if all players could be as carefree and happy on the field as Koji Uehara, you would win a lot more games. This is the major leagues..... everyone is good. But if you play relaxed, your mind will focus more on the fundamentals. It's science.
Anyways, a rough start for Lackey and the Red Sox still led to their 42nd win of the season. Here are the four at bats that changed the game:
1)When will the pain end? Lackey needed to be good today, and while his overall body of work looked that way, it certainly didn't begin like that. Nate McLouth, Manny Machado,Nick Markakis and Adam Jones started off the inning with four straight hits to score a couple of runs and put the O's up early. What got me to yell in frustration was Jones' hit. With men on the corners, Adam poked a ball towards short, and by the time Stephen Drew gobbled it and threw it to first, Jones beat it out to score a run. Those cheap hits are the ones that frustrate pitchers, because you know your opponent doesn't deserve to be on the base, but luck happens. 2-0 O's.
3) Here's Johnny! Garcia faces Johnny Gomes with one out in the sixth, and he tries to sneak a curveball past him. Gomes is not tricked and sends a ball deep to the 410 ft mark in left center field. Adam Jones races back to play it off the wall but it carries over for a solo shot to put the Sox up 5-2.
4) Close out the game, somebody! Bottom of the ninth, and the fans want to see a win. Closer Andrew Bailey has to work hard for it. Bailey gives up a single to Adam Jones and then Matt Wieters hits a bomb to bring the O's to within one run with only one out. J.J Hardy then singles to put the tying run on base, and Alexi Casilla comes on to run for him. Ryan Flaherty then hits a hard pop to right field, but Shane Victorino is there for the easy out. BUT WAIT! Casilla makes a major mistake and leaves when the ball is hit, and Victorino throws the ball to first to complete the double play. The rally is killed and Boston wins the game, 5-4.
Tomorrow, the action continues when Jon Lester faces Miguel Gonzalez at 1:10pm in Baltimore.