Groundhog Night. Check your calendars! Is it October 16th again? ... Once again, 99.9999999% of fans watching last night's game knew Pedro Martinez was done -- this time after seven innings and 101 pitches. Rodriguez and Sheffield both hit rockets off him in the top of the 7th, but he escaped trouble. It wasn't his best night anyway; he struggled in the 1st, 3rd and 6th innings, as well. (In fact, I wanted someone up after Martinez allowed a walk and a double to start the 6th.)
When Johnny Damon tagged Tom Gordon for a solo home run in the bottom of the 7th, Boston took a 4-3 lead and assured Martinez of getting the win, as long as the bullpen could hold off the Yankees for two innings -- the bullpen that Francona clearly was saving for tonight (see what he threw out there two nights ago against Baltimore). Except there was no one warming up in the Red Sox bullpen and the TV showed Pedro sitting on the bench with his jacket on. Feeling a bit of deja vu, no doubt.
I filled in Pedro's line in my scorecard after Damon's home run, knowing there was NO way he was coming out for the 8th. I mean, we want him to throw a few games next month too, right? ... Wrong. There he was, out on the mound. ... Matsui (who came into the game 1-for-19 against Martinez) looked at a ball and pounded a solo home run into the still-quiet Red Sox bullpen. Tie game 4-4. And Pedro -- at 103 pitches -- stayed in.
Embree and Timlin finally began throwing. Bernie Williams lined a 3-2 pitch down the right field line for a double. And Pedro -- at 109 pitches -- stayed in.
Posada struck out for the first out. And Pedro -- at 113 pitches -- stayed in.
Sierra, who had looked like crap against Pedro earlier, lined a single to right center; Nixon's throw was up the first baseline and Williams scored. New York 5-4. And Pedro -- at 117 pitches -- was finally pulled ... 16 pitches and 4 batters too late.
How the FUCK can this keep happening? Did anyone learn anything from last season? How fucking hard is it to go to the relief pitchers you were saving for this very night? Is Dave Wallace -- who sat in the dugout last October like a goddamn bump on a log and was there (somewhere) last night -- allowed to speak freely to Francona? Is Varitek mute? How about Ortiz on the bench? Any chance of him waving over to his manager -- yoo-hoo -- I've seen this before, get the fuck out there and change pitchers!!!!!
Seriuously -- WHAT WAS HE WAITING FOR?
After New York tied the game, the hardest thing Joe Torre had to do was sit the visitors' dugout for 2 innings without doubling over in laughter. He's a strong man, has a tough grip on his emotions, though I think the cameras caught him smirking a few times.
I can feel the smoke coming out of my ears even now, exactly an hour after the final out. Even if the Red Sox had come back and won this game, this would rank as the most maddening game of the season. Of course, they did not come back. As last season showed, the heavy hitters can do a lot of damage, but when it comes to battling against the idiocies of their own manager, they will lose. ... Can we appoint Dale Svuem as manager? Sure, it took him 5 or 6 tries, but he did eventually learn from his mistakes.
How are other fans feeling? Check out some other blogs or read the game thread. At 9:11, 941827 writes: "Just to clarify - what everyone has said here is what I meant: I don't want to hear any of this 'oh, he got in trouble quickly and we didn't have time to warm people up' b.s. -- have people warming to start the 7th so Pedro can get pulled if he gets in trouble." ... But things really get going around 9:14.
Some SoSHers labeled Francona "Gump 2.0" -- and did it a long time ago. I resisted that epithet. No more. Francona clearly is no better than Grady. In fact, considering that Francona saw what happened in last year's ALCS, was interviewed by the front office for Grady's old job and STILL MADE THE SAME FUCKING MISTAKE, he's quite probably worse. More cement-headed than Little? The mind boggles. ... I can't wait to hear the excuses for this managerial fuck-up? It's going to be damn hard NOT to sound like you-know-who after you-know-what.
Silver Lining Dept.: Tito is going to get RIPPED, RIPPED, and RIPPED again over this blunder. So we can be glad that he will *not* do it again. (Right?!?) Better it happens now than in October.