Baseball & Frailty

I’ve often said that other than the things that actually matter in life, baseball is my favorite thing in the world.  Occasionally, those things that matter will collide with baseball in a startling way.  Today is one of those times.  Last night I watched Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart make only his fourth career big league start, allowing no runs and striking out five over six innings, only to have the bullpen cough it up in the ninth inning.  This morning on a break at work, I went on the Internet and discovered that Nick Adenhart is dead.  After the game his car was struck by a hit-and-run driver, slamming it into a light post.  He died in surgery about six o’clock this morning.

People die, and die tragically, everyday.  Open the newspaper, watch TV, or surf the web and you’ll see and hear stories about people killed in car accidents, drive by shootings, in wars, disease, or one of any other of endless possibilities.  In just the last couple months we’ve seen stories of police officers gunned down in the line of duty and a group of immigrants murdered while taking a citizenship test.  All unexpected, all tragic.  Nick Adenhart being a professional baseball player doesn’t make his death any more or any less tragic than these others, but perhaps because we often see professional athletes as being at least physically impervious to the pitfalls of this world, it makes a big impact.  Here he was, 22 years old, his whole life and career ahead of him with seemingly nothing to stand in his way to success and fortune.  Now its all gone.  In the case of those police officers in Oakland and Pittsburgh, while we don’t expect our cities finest to be gunned down in the street on a weekly basis, we know that its a dangerous job and that they knew that when they signed up, so while we don’t, and shouldn’t, accept it maybe it doesn’t seem quite as inconceivable.  In a professional athlete we see an insular life of privilege and wealth, not often found amongst the ranks of law enforcement officers.  But now we are reminded–because we already knew it in the back of our minds–that all the money and privilege in the world can’t insulate anyone totally from the travails of life.

And so we’re left to wonder, why?  Why are those whose futures appear so bright taken from us by those who, at the same age, already have DUI convictions on their record and a suspended license?  It isn’t fair.  But we know life isn’t fair, don’t we?  If it was, would a perfect Man have to have died to pay for the crimes of you and me?  This life is frail.  It can seem sturdy and well constructed on the outside, but the frame and foundation may be crumbling and we don’t even know it and it could come to a crashing end at anytime.  The only certainty is Christ.  Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  All the money in the world can’t guarantee you a thing, but once Christ is in your corner there’s no losing.  No more bullpen to blow a solid start.  He’ll be with you all the way.  If he’s not in your corner yet, don’t hesitate.  I hope Nick Adenhart didn’t.

It’s Over

It’s been over for nearly a week and I’m only now able to talk about it.  Red Sox 3, Angels 1.  Series, Boston.  As usual.

Eric Aybar’s failure to get the suicide squeeze down in the ninth (the image of which I kept seeing repeatedly in my mind’s eye for three solid days) was the series in microcosm for the Halos. They didn’t play like a team that won 100 games, with countless defensive miscues (including Willits diving for Bay’s looper), some blockheaded baserunning, and atrocious hitting with RISP. To be honest, they were lucky to be where they were, winning one game and on the verge of taking a late lead in another. This of course only makes it more painful. If they had played their best and still lost at least then they could walk away with their heads held high knowing they gave it all they could. Instead, they (and I) will have the gnawing feeling that they should have done better all winter long. Getting eliminated in the playoffs always hurts because it seems like the road to get back is so very long and there is no guarantee you will be back, no matter how much money is spent.

As the late great A. Bartlett Giamatti said, “[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”  Besides the specific bummed-outedness of my team getting eliminated from the playoffs, I always have a more general feeling of melancholy when the baseball season ends.  For nine months baseball is woven into the fabric of my everyday life.  Whether its checking the box scores or my fantasy team or talking about last nights game with friends or co-workers or listening to a game on the radio on a warm summer night while heading home after my own softball game.  The world seems a lesser place without it.  But the winter cold will numb this year’s pain and by the time spring rolls around hope will blossom once again and we’ll start the whole cycle all over again.  To paraphrase Roy Hobbs, “Man, I love baseball.”

Fear and Loathing

In the words of Tom Paine, these are the times that try men’s souls.  There is panic in the air and uncertainty is the order of the day.  The outlook is grim and complete and total collapse appear imminent.  To make matters worse we are all powerless to stop it.  The only options left are to hope and pray.  Yes, the Boston Red Sox have once again humiliated the Angels in October.

I got to my TV in the fourth inning of last night’s opening game of the Divisional Playoff series between the Angels and Red Sox, and the Angels were up 1-0.  It didn’t last long.  John Lackey pitched exceptionally well save for one horribly located pitch that Jason Bay sent deep into the Orange County night to give the Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish.  What is it about the Red Sox that turns the Angels from a 100 game winning Major League Baseball team into a bunch of cowardly little leaguers.  Yes, Boston has good pitching, but it isn’t like the Angels haven’t seen good pitching before, including the guys they’re facing in this series.  In the past seven post season games between these two teams going back to 2004 the Angels have been outscored something like 173-8.  Ok, maybe its not that bad, but it might as well be.  That’s what it feels like.

As I watched the game last night, in between holding my head in my hands after Vlad’s terrible baserunning and screaming unflattering things about Gary Matthews after his seventh inning error, which thankfully didn’t hurt them (Matthews should be buying Darren Oliver a new car for bailing him out), an unsettling fear crept over me.  The fear that we will never beat these guys when it counts.  We were 8-1 against them in the regular season and most of those were old fashioned woodshed beatings.  But come October and these guys cower behind their halos.

I used to root for the Red Sox, as long as it didn’t interfere with the Angels’ plans, despite of their faux-underdoggedness.  Now, I loathe them.  I loathe them because ESPN can’t stop gushing about them, I loathe them because their “fans” are everywhere, I loathe them because of Kevin Youkilis’ goatee, I loathe them because Jason Varitek is a blackhole in the lineup and still manages to do something to hurt you, I loathe them for their smugness.  But most of all I loathe them for runining two of my last four Octobers.  And I fear their doing it again.

The Postseason

Today is the first day of the MLB postseason and I’ll admit I’ve already got butterflies.  My Angels will face the Red Sox, starting tonight at seven, for the third time in five years and hopefully can perform a little better than in the past.  Going back to the 1986 American League Championship series the Halos have lost nine straight playoff games to the Sox, a trend that must end or I may end up performing a spleenectomy on myself with a butter knife.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Josh The Rev is out of town, so I’ll be running the show at youth group tonight which starts at precisely the same moment John Lackey will be throwing the first pitch of the game.  Nothing like watching a playoff game on tape delay.  You owe me Carrillo!

Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll have lots of happy baseball thoughts to report.  If I appear to be mysteriously absent from these quarters for a prolonged length of time, check the box scores.  If the Angels have not fared well, you may want to alert the authorities and request a check the welfare.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that either.  Go Vlad go!

Let’s Play Two!

As weekends go this past one is hard to beat.  On Friday night I went to the Angels-A’s game in Oakland with my buddy Jon the Green Beret, who was home on leave, and a few other friends.  It was good to see Jon.  It had been probably close to two years the last time he was in Santa Rosa and in the meantime had been to Germany, Afghanistan, and other undisclosed exotic locations.  Even though I hadn’t seen him face to face in a long time, we had communicated fairly frequently via email.  I was thinking about how much different communication with military personel is now than how it used to be not all that long ago.  Can you imagine trying to communicate with someone stationed way out in the Afghan boondocs 15, maybe even 10 years ago?  It would’ve been exceedingly slow, if even possible at all.  But email has changed all that.  In fact its so much easier that not only were Jon and I able to have the kind of correspondense usually commonplace between those in the field and those at home in any era (“how are you”, “be safe”, “everyone back here is thinking about you guys”, “went on patrol today”, that kind of stuff), but I even got a few forwarded email jokes and chainletters.  When I really think about that it kind of blows my mind.  Here’s my buddy in a combat zone (which, I told him, still weirds me out a little) with the time and ability to forward a joke about giraffes.  What an interesting time we live in.

Anyway, back to the game.  It was good to spend time with Jon and the other guys that came along, and also Jon’s wife and parents, and retell the stories from the old days and get a little glimpse of what Afghanistan was like.  I would’ve loved to talk about that with him more, but there wasn’t time and I’m sure that wasn’t the first thing he would want to relive after just getting home.  We had awesome seats, field level 1st base side 23 rows back, and the Angels won so I was a happy camper all around.

The next night Jen, Lily, and I again returned to Oak-town for game two of the series.  This was my early Father’s Day present and I think Jen has set the future bar a little high for herself.  This one will be hard to top.  The seats were even better than the night before, same general area but a section closer to home plate and row 14.  The Angels were again victorious, though Frankie Rodriguez made things a little interesting in the bottom of the ninth.  Lily was a champ all night and I think she enjoyed her first ball game.

Both nights I was bold and was decked out in full Angels gear.  On Sunday my father-in-law pointed out that I went one night with a Green Beret and one night with a baby to protect myself from getting harassed.  Well, duh.  What am I, an idiot?  Speaking of the baby, she was the hit of our section even though even she was also in full Angels regalia.  Her cuteness overcame the cold, hardened hearts of even the most misguided A’s fans.  A fellow Angel fan told Jen as he passed by, “You’re raising her right.”  There was a postgame fireworks show on Saturday night and we tried to stay for it, but after about three big “BOOMS” Lily had had enough and we headed for home.

It doesn’t get much better than a night at the ballpark.  Unless its back-to-back nights at the ballpark.

ALDS Game 2 Angels vs. Red Sox Running Diary

angels_logo.jpgFor tonight’s Angels/Red Sox game, I thought I’d take a page (some might say steal a page, but whatever) from the great Bill Simmons and do a running diary as I watch the game.  I’ve never done this before, so we’ll see how it goes.  Being a Red Sox fan, I wonder if Bill will be doing one of his own tonight.  Maybe we’re going head to head.  Well, don’t worry Bill, I only have, like, twelve readers.  Your seat atop the running-diarist ziggurat is secure.  Consider this an homage.  Let’s get to the game shall we?

5:38 – I won’t say the Angels have to win this game, but it’s close.  They did have the best home record in baseball this year and they have beat on Schilling a little bit this year.  But in order to win two at home they’d have to beat Beckett, who’s been channeling ’01 vintage Schilling of late.  So a win tonight is BIG.

5:40 – First pitch to Chone Figgins:  strike one.

5:42 – Figgins = K.  Not a terrible at-bat, he fouled off several pitches, but certainly not the start I was hoping for.

5:43 – Dice-K does some weird three-mini thrusts of the pelvis thing in his windup.  It’s a little unnerving.  No, it’s a lot unnerving.

5:45 – Sox fans “Aaaaaah” angrily at a pitch waaaaaay outside on a 1-2 count.  Idiots.

5:46 – A shot of Garret Anderson in the Angel dugout.  He looks like a pirate.  Apparently he has pink-eye or something.  Oh, and Cabrera draws a walk.  Good AB.

5:47 –  Vlad swings at a pitch that almost hit the first base coach.  Gotta love this guy.

5:49 –  TBS doesn’t have a radar gun reading.  How can you not have a radar gun reading?  Lame.

5:50 – Angels doing a good job of fouling off some good pitches.  They’ve always been a good two-strike hitting team during the Scioscia era and the more pitches they see from Dice-K early the better.

5:51- For the Regulars, remember when I posted a picture from when I had poison oak?  That’s what Anderson looks like.  Pretty hilarious actually…unless he can’t see.  That’ll make it tough to hit, field, and run in the right direction.

5:53 – Seems to be OK, he just ripped a single.  Runners at the corners, two outs (Vlad popped up).

5:54 –  And now the leagues most feared #5 hitter, Frodo Baggins–I mean Macier Izturis.  Only six home runs on the year, but a .406 batting average with runners in scoring position.

5:57 –  Full count aaannnd…called strike three.  Crap.  No runs, but not a total loss of an inning.  At least Dice-K threw over thirty pitches.

6:00 – Kelvim Escobar taking the mound for the Angels tonight.  Can’t wait for those ultra-tight closeups of his acne.  That’s the one time I’m glad I don’t have hi-def.  That and whenever I’m watching Mama’s Family.

6:01 – First batter, Dustin Pedroia, grounds out, one away.

6:02 – Escobar goes up 0-2 on Youkilis than walks him.  Lackey got a head 0-2 on a lot of batters early on Wednesday but couldn’t put them away and it cost him.  Hopefully we’re not developing a pattern.

6:05 –  Ugh!  There’s the first close-up.  Get that guy some Clearasil.

6:06 – Ortiz singles to left.  Could really use a double-play here.  C’mon Manny, help us out.

6:07 – After he retires, I think Manny has a future as a lead singer for a Bob Marley tribute band.

6:10 -Manny flies out to center, 2 down, Mike Lowell up next.

6:11 – I think Lowell could hold his own in a George Clooney look-a-like contest.  He wouldn’t win, but he’d do OK.

6:12 – Lowell walks, bases juiced. [Deep breath]

6:13 – J.D. Drew base hit up the middle, 2-0 Boston.  [More deep breaths]  Drew is one of those guys who’s been lousy all year, but you just have a feeling he’s going to hurt you.  Maybe that’s because he just did, I don’t know.

6:15 – The umpires strike zone seems to have changed already.  He was giving the low strike at first, but hasn’t the last few batters.  Nothing makes for fun baseball like some inconsistent umpiring, mmmm boy!

6:16 – Varitek lines out, inning over, damage minimized.

6:17 – Flipping over to the Yankee/Indian game, still 1-1 in the 11th.  Joba Chamberlain was clearly bothered by the bug infestation in the 8th.  Now at last the rest of the league knows his weakness, pestilence!

6:21 – Casey Kotchman leading off the second.

6:22 – Dice-K is definitely having control problems.  The Angels aren’t a team that walks a lot, but if they’re smart and play their game they should be able to get to this guy.

6:23 – Kotchman walks, Cuban defector Kendry Morales up.  This guys a solid hitter, good to see him in the lineup tonight.

6:24 – Broadcaster bringing up Shea Hillenbran.  That guy was a bum for us.  An absolute blackhole.  Which is little odd when you think about it.  He hit 21 home runs last year, but was just terrible for the Angels.  What makes a guy go down the crapper so quickly?  Wonder if he’ll bounce back.

6:25 – Morales rips a single, Kotchman to third.

6:26 –  Good situation for the Angels to get those two runs back immediately.  Runners at the corners, no outs, and line drive machine Howie Kendrick up.

6:27 – Or not.  Three pitch strike out.  Nice AB Howie!  Now it’s up to Jeff Mathis, owner of a .211 batting average, and that frightens me.

6:30 – OK, the nerves are kicking in.  This is the kind of situation where if you don’t get at least one run in, it can suck the wind right out of your sails for the whole game.  We need to get at least one here.

6:31 – We got our one.  Morales was on the move to stay out of the DP, Kotchman scores, Mathis out at first.

6:32 – Alright, time to get Figgy wit it!

6:33 –  Terrible strike call.  Outside and neck high.  This ump is not instilling confidence.

6:33 – Figgins slaps one to left, Morales scores, Manny misplays it and Chone is into 2nd.  We needed that.  Yankees just lost in the bottom of the 11th.

6:34 – Cabrera smokes a double, Figgins scores, 3-2 Angels.  Apparently they’re figured out Dice-K.  He’s up to almost 60 pitches in the second inning.  Eggg-celent!

6:36 – Vladdy up…and out.  Inning over.

6:38 – I love this E! True Hollywood Story-style Geico commercial about Jed Clampett.  Great stuff.  Geico consistently has the best commercials.  I’m proud to call them my auto insurance provider.

6:40 – Ok, let’s see how Escobar responds with the lead.

6:41 – Oh, TBS does have a radar gun reading.  My bad TBS (Coco Crip strikes out).

6:43 – BTW, if you would like to know more about Kelvim Escobar check out his Myspace (www.myspace.com/kelvim).  It’s very…um…revealing.  Consider that your warning.

6:44 – Three up, three down.  Great inning from Mysapcobar.

6:47 – Pink-eye Anderson leads off with a bloop double to right.  And then is promptly thrown out at third on an Izturis grounder to the shortstop.  Guess his swollen eyeball didn’t allow him to see that the ball was hit within three feet of him.  Awesome.

6:49 – This umpire is starting to squeeze both these guys.  The last two pitches sure looked like strikes to me.

6:51 – Izturis steals second then Kotchman bounces out, moving Izzy to third, two out.  Another run here to pick up Anderson would be nice.

6:52 – Morales flies out to end the inning.  Anderson’s baserunning gaffe didn’t hurt them that much.

6:55 – Sonic trivia question:  What four pitchers have an 18 win season and 38 saves in another season?  Any guesses.

6:56 -Esco’s starting to look really good.  Just made Youkilis look goofy on a strikeout.  After the first inning, TBS showed Cabrera talking to Escobar in the dugout and ever since he’s pitched much more aggressively.  Cabrera’s an underrated guy for those who don’t follow the Angels.  He’s key to this team not only as a gold glove caliber SS and pretty good number two hitter, but as a team leader and a bridge between the English speakers and the Spanish speakers.  You could call him the glue of this team.  He’s filled that role left by Darin Erstad very nicely.  And he hits above .250.  He’s not all intangibles, he’s got the tangibles too.

6:59 – Ortiz is up and draws a walk.  And another disheartening closeup of Escobar’s pock marks.  Shudder.

7:01 – Escobar blows a 97 mph heater past Manny for strike three, two out.  Me likey.

7:02 – The broadcasters are talking bout how Mike Lowell was basically a throw-in in the Beckett deal.  Lowell’s two year Red Sox totals:  40 home runs, 200 RBI, .300 BA, highest fielding percentage for a third basemen all-time.  Not bad.

7:03 – But he grounds out here, inning over.  Keep it up Pock Mark!

7:09 – Kendrick leads off with a smash to left and then Mathis immediately pops out to the catcher.  Sweet.

7:11 – Big defensive play by Youkilis to get Figgins.  Instead of first and third and one out, it’s runner on second with two outs.  That could be a killer.

7:12 – It is.  Cabrera bounces out, inning over.

7:16 – Sonic trivia answer:  Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Derek Lowe, and Kelvim Escobar.  I had three out of four, which, according to Meatloaf, ain’t bad.  Or was that two out of three?

7:19 – Escobar gets two quick outs before Crisp reaches on a bunt single.

7:24 – Esco strikes out Lugo looking then does some sort of sweet samurai knee dip thing.  Now that’s playoff baseball!

7:27 – Vlad grounds out.  He can’t seem to figure Dice-K out.  We need him to get going, badly.

7:29 – Pausing to eat dinner while I watch.  Hold on.

7:40 – I’m back.  You didn’t miss much.  Izturis singled and stole second, Kotchman almost killed the Angels trainer with a foul ball then singled.  Dice-K was lifted for a reliever and Morales grounded out.  Exciting stuff.

7:42 – Esco needs to keep this going since the offense…oh, well there’s a double from Pedroia.  No matter what happens this inning Escobar doesn’t pitch the next inning.  He’s up to almost 100 pitches already.

7:45 – Youkilis moves Pedroia to third with a check swing bunt and the Angels will walk Ortiz to get to Manny.  It seems odd to walk anyone to get to pitch to Manny Ramierez, but this is the smart play.  Manny hits under .200 against Escobar and it sets up the DP.  Plus Ortiz  finished up the season batting somewhere around .700.

7:47 – First pitch:  foul

7:47 – Second pitch:  popped up behind the plate.  Mathis went into the stands and had a play but some stupid fan robbed him.  Stupid fan.  0-2 count.

7:48 – Third pitch:  foul

7:50 – Fourth pitch:  ball one

7:50 – Fifth pitch:  BARELY a ball.  That was close.  Dang it.

7:51 – Sixth pitch:  almost hit him, ball three.

7:51- Payoff pitch:  in the dirt, ball four.  I hate that fan.

7:53 – Lowell rips one to CF for a sac fly.  Tie game.  I really hate that fan.

7:54 – When ever something like that happens, like a stupid fan stealing an out from the visiting team, it seems like something big always happens next.  It’s really irritating.  Unless you’re rooting for the home team.  Which I am not.

7:55 – Ooooh, Fenway Park celebrity sighting!  Sitting behind Stupid Interfering Fan is Steven King.  He looks like a character from one of his novels.  As in, he looks like he is no longer among the living.  A very creepy looking fella.

7:58 – Good AB here from J.D. “I sucked all year but still terrify Andy Bauer in the playoffs” Drew.  He’s fouled off some tough pitches.  I don’t like him.

7:59 – Whew!  Bounce out to first.  Considering how long and agonizing that inning was, we’re lucky to be tied.  Really need to jump star the offense.  Right now.

8:02 – Kendrick leading off the sixth.  I think he was 50 Cent’s stunt double in Get Rich or Die Tryin’.  If he wasn’t, he should’ve been.

8:04 – Apparently Fitty ain’t much of a ball player.  Kendrick grounds out.

8:05 – Mathis pops up, two out.  [sigh]

8:06 –  Looks like Scot Shields will pitch the sixth for the Angels.  For the past four years I’ve been very comfortable with this, except that for the past couple of months Scot has really struggled.  He makes me a tad nervous these days.

8:08 – Figgins strikes out, inning over.  [ppbbbbbt]

8:10 – Is Ernie Johnson the dorkiest  looking sports broadcaster of all time?  Or is it Joe Buck?  I think there should be a contest.

8:12 – Wow!  Shields looks good.   He just K’d Varitek who looked totally overmatched.

8:13 – Wow!  Shields looks bad.  He just walked Crisp on five pitches.

8:16 – The broadcasters make a good observation.  This years Red Sox are probably the most complete team they’ve had, even more so maybe than 2004.  They’ve go the power hitters (Ortiz, Manny, Lowell), they run a little bit, actually much more than they have in the past (Crisp, Lugo) and their bullpen was statistically the best in the league this year, where in the past it’d been an achilles heel before they got to the closer.

8:19 Angels get out of the inning on a baserunning blunder by Crisp.  The batter flew out to center as Crisp took off for second.  But then Crisp couldn’t find the ball and as he tried to go back to first, he didn’t retouch second base, which he had passed, and was called out.  Lucky break.

8:22 – This next inning is huge for the Angels.  The heart of the order will be up, probably the best chance to score.

8:24 – Cabrera flies out.  Vladdy up…and takes a pitch he could’ve ripped.

8:25 – And now he gets beaned in the shoulder.  Oooh, and the stink eye he just gave the pitcher (though it definitely wasn’t on purpose).  Vlad’s gotten hit a lot this year, especially lately.  I think he’s tired of it.  I’m tired of it.

8:27 – Anderson needs to come through right here.  He’s facing Hideki Okajima, a crafty lefty.  GA hits lefties pretty well, so let’s see what Pink Eye can do.

8:29 – Fans angerly “Aaaaahh” a ball that nearly hit Anderson.  Did you really think that was a strike?

8:32 – Fly out, two down.  [Deep breath]  Now its up to Frodo Izturis to complete the quest for the elusive go ahead run.  Godspeed.

8:36 – Quest over.  At least for this inning.  Mighty Frodo has struck out!

8:37 – Ah, another Geico commercial, geco version.  I prefer the cavemen.  I give that Cavemen TV show on ABC about six weeks.  Love the commercials, but those are thirty seconds long, not thirty minutes.  There’s only so many times regular, everyday things done by cavemen men can be funny.  “Hey look, the cavemen is doing the laundry!  Hysterical!”

8:40 – When they do the “This broadcast is the exclusive property of Major League Baseball…” disclaimer, am I violating it by verbally describing the game to somebody.  Does that count as desciminating?  What if you do a running diary on the Internet?

8:41 –  Shields still in, one out.

8:42 – Two down, Big Papi at the bat and Scioscia is leaving Shields in.  Ortiz is a lefty and the Angels have lefty pitcher Darren Oliver ready in the bullpen.  Hmmmmm.  I’m scared.

8:45 – Result = base on balls.  Scoty was down 3-0, got to a full count, then lost him.

8:47 – Now he goes 3-0 on Manny.  Nerves…becoming…frayed.  Ball four.  Like I said before, up until a couple months ago, I would’ve taken my chances with Shields against just about anybody.  Now, I’m soiling myself on every pitch.

8:48 – Scioscia leaves Shields in against Lowell.  0-2 count so far.

8:50 – Geez Louise!!  Lowell battles back to a full count, then flies out to center.  My heart just exploded.

8:55 – Interesting fact:  the Red Sox actually have two designated hitters.  One of them just happens to play left field.  Manny just turned a routine flyball into an adventure, overrunning it and then snatching it off his shoe tops at the last second.  I think three elderly Sox fans just had heart attacks.

8:58 – I think Scioscio should have brought Juan Rivera in to pinch hit for Morales here.  He hit lefties very well and Morales is having to bat right handed now, which is not his strongest side.

8:59 – I was right.  Morales strikes out.  And the Sox are bringing in their closer, Jonathan Papelbon to finish off the eigth.  This guy is really, really good.

9:02 – Howie Kendrick up aaannnnd…error!  He reaches on a bad throw.  Is this the break we need?

9:03 – Mathis should be pinch hit for here.  I don’t like this non-move at all.

9:04 – Kendrick steals second.  Now with him in scoring position, Rivera comes on to pinch hit.  We NEED to capitalize on this.  We need a hit here badly.

9:07 – FYI, I’m hugging a pillow.

9:08 – Kendrick steals third.  Now I’ll settle for a wild pitch.

9:09 – Full count. (Still hugging pillow…)

9:10 – Holy crap!!  It was called ball four, but it looked an awful lot like strike three.  Reggie Willits to run for Rivera.  Figgins at bat.  Figgy, don’t fail me now!

9:11 – Willits steals second. (Still hugging pillow…)

9:13 –  Called strike three.  Big breaking ball on the outside corner.  I realize that guys get frozen when their looking for a certain pitch and get something else, but I hate, absolutely hate when they take a called third strike with men in scoring position.  Do you think we’re going to get another chance like this against Papelbon in the ninth?  Arrrgghh!! (Ripping my pillow to shreds.)

9:15 – I guess the silver lining of that inning is that Papelbon did throw a lot of pitches, almost twenty.  So, we’ve got that going for us.

9:20 – Very bad news.  Vlad has been pulled.  Very, very bad news.  Especially since his spot is due up second next inning.  Apparently its related to the beanball he took to the shoulder. Very, very, very bad news.  I’m starting to feel a little nauseus.

9:22 – On a positive note, Justin Speier just threw a perfect eigth.

9:24 – Ah, that’s reassuring.  A closeup of Anderson’s swollen eye.  Very encouraging.

9:26 – The umpire just called a pitch a strike that almost hit Cabrera in the face.  Neither team can be loving this guy right now.

9:27 – Cabrera pops out, Mike Napoli hitting for Vladdy.

9:28 – Napoli has a fat face.  Hopefully that translates into ninth inning home runs.

9:29 – Nope.  Ninth inning pop ups.  Two outs, here comes cyclops.

9:34 – One Eyed Willy obviously didn’t get the memo that everyone is supposed to pop out in the ninth and draws a walk.  Izturis gets things back on plan and pops out to the shortstop.  Good work guys.

9:37 – And to keep the streak of good fortune alive, Speier gives up a single to Lugo to start the ninth.

9:38 – Pedroia gets Lugo to second on a broken bat hit-and-run, but is out at first.  That’s it for Speier, in comes K-Rod.

9:40 – I’m hugging my pillow again.

9:41 – Lugo almost picked off second.  That would have been nice.

9:43 – K-Rod strikes out Youkilis!  Now the IBB to Ortiz and we’ll take our chances with Manny.

9:44 – Manny is only 2 for 9 against K-Rod with four strikeou…

9:45 – Now it’s 3 for 10.  Including a home run.  Game over.  6-3, Red Sox.  I have to go cry myself to sleep now.