Friday night had, for eight innings, the best game of the three. Derek Lowe, who's been horrible, came up big for the Sox, while Odalis Perez pitched well enough to win. Then the ninth inning came and things got weird. With two outs and a man on, Manny Ramirez couldn't catch a wind blown pop fly to end the game. While he was doing circles underneath the ball, yelling desperately for the shortstop to come bail him out, Alex Cora was circling the bases. When the ball finally hit the ground, he was just starting his slide home. Manny is a great hitter, but a miserable outfielder.
However, given this gift from the baseball gods, what does Jim Tracy do? He has Eric Gagne, the most dominating closer in the game, sitting out in the bullpen. Does he bring he bring him in to keep things in check so the Dodgers can finish the Sox off in the 10th? Nope. Instead he brings in Martin, a so-so lefty to pitch the ninth. He didn't even get an out. Game over. Very disappointing end to what had been a great ballgame.
Saturday was batting practice for the Dodger hitters as they demolished the Sox 14-5. Wakefield's knuckler wasn't, and the Dodgers just teed off on it. I wonder about that. Most of the times I recall Wakefield getting hammered, it's been in afternoon games on pleasant days. I wonder if there's a connection? The knuckle ball relies on air movement from updrafts and such for it's own motion. I suppose I could research this, but that would be something akin to work.
Weaver wasn't exactly pitching great, but he managed to hold on just long enough to get the win. Meanwhile, the Sox brought their left fielder (McCarty) in to pitch the ninth rather than burn up another pitcher. McCarty did well. Gagne pitched the ninth for the Dodgers, in a completely meaningless appearance.
Last night went pretty much as predicted. The Dodgers actually handled Pedro a little better than I expected, and were actually patient. Otherwise, they didn't play all that well. They kept making bad plays on the basepaths, though. (Millar never did actually tag Bradley on the pick off, but still.) Meanwhile, Nomo was very shaky, and the Sox took advantage, winning 4-1.
Nomo presents a problem. The Dodgers don't have a number one starter, the big horse who will win games and pitch a lot of innings. Going into the season, they sort of expected Nomo to fill that roll, but he seems to have lost quite a bit off his fastball. Plus, he's getting shelled early, so he's not piling up innings. In fact he's the worst starter in the majors in that respect. The big problem is that the Dodgers don't have anyone else who can fill the roll. Perez and Ishii are a good number two type starters, but both have been inconsistent. Weaver shows occasional flashes of brilliance, but has otherwise sucked. Alverez has pitched well, but is injury prone, and Tracy seems to want him in the bullpen. The thing is that right now he's a better starter than Nomo, and ought to be in the rotation. Just because Nomo is supposed to be number one, doesn't make it so, no matter how hard Tracy wishes it.
There was one very funny moment in the ESPN broadcast. Varitek was on first, and the Sox put on a hit and run play, so Varitek broke to second on the pitch, which Millar lofted into right field, an easy catch for Encarnacion. Varitek had his head down on the play, so he had no idea where the ball went. Meanwhile, Izturis and Cora are decoying him by miming a fielder's choice play at second base. Varitek finally wises up to the deception and tries desperately to get back to first before he's doubled up. It would've been an easy out, but Encarnacion made a terrible throw to first, pulling Green off the bag.
The funny part was that as Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were discussing the play, production mentioned to them that ESPN had miked both Cora and Izturis, and that perhaps they could get some insight into the deception from the point of view of the players as it was all going on. So they ran the replay again, this time with the sound tracks from Cora's and Izturis's mikes overlaid. And yes they were yelling at each other during the play. Of course they were both yelling in Spanish...