Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lackey Misses No Hitter, Takes Pedroia Off Christmas Card List

Last night was a beautiful night to be at the ballpark. Perfect weather, nice seats, and a near historic pitching outing by John Lackey. Lackey did not look like he was throwing anything overpowering, primarily throwing a low to mid-90's fastball, and mixing in a slider, occasional curve, and a rare change up. He really wasn't throwing overpowering pitches, nor was he drastically mixing up speeds. Lackey only struck out 4 batters the entire game. Red Sox batters were generally putting the bat on the ball, but they could only muster looping fly balls to the outfield, or ground ball aimed right at infielders.

John LackeyInning after inning would pass and we'd keep waiting to see a base runner in a white uniform, and the potential for a rally. Other than JD Drew being hit by a pitch in the second inning and Dustin Pedroia drawing a walk in the 6th inning, no Red Sox batter reached base. Unfortunately, I broke the cardinal rule of a no hitter. I spoke the fatal words "no hitter" while the no hitter was underway. In fact, I said the words as often as I could casually bring them up in conversation starting around the 6th inning. You know, things like, "could you pass the ketchup, I don't want to get up and miss any of this no hitter", and "what a nice night to try for a no hitter, isn't it?".

So, if I jinxed it for John Lackey, I apologize (NOT). There was really not too much buzz about the on-going no hitter in the crowd until the bottom of the 8th inning. I guess people didn't think it would last that long, and when the 9th inning came around and the Sox were losing 6-0, I scanned the crowd and noticed that I could not find a single empty seat. Even though the Sox looked certain to lose, the Fenway Faithful understood that a piece of baseball history was unfolding before them, and no one wanted to miss what would happen.

Another interesting tidbit. I have seen home crowds actually being to cheer for a visiting pitcher in the 9th inning when pursuing a no hitter, even when their team is the one to suffer the loss, like when Curt Schilling chased a no hitter against the Angels last season in Anaheim. Sox fans? no chance. Everyone was interested that a no hitter was in progress, but not a single solitary clap or voice of encouragement went out to Lackey. I have no doubt whatsoever that, had Lackey completed the no hitter, he would have received a warm standing ovation in recognition of the feat (and the first no hitter by an opposing pitcher in Fenway Park in 50 years). However, up until that final out, every Fenway fan was cheering for one thing, and one thing only...a hit that would ensure there would not be a no hitter in our house, and a hit that would fire up a last minute rally.

Dustin Pedroia Singles off John LackeySo, with one out in the ninth, Dustin Pedroia laced a ground ball single through the infield into left field for a clean hit, and the crowd let out a huge roar. Pedroia will never again receive a Christmas card from John Lackey, but he made everyone in Boston happy with that hit. Lackey was getting high on pitch count, and when Youkilis stepped up to the plate, I imagine Lackey felt just a little deflated. Youk did not pause to ponder that, instead he went for the kill, clobbering the second pitch he saw into the Green Monster seats, putting the Sox on the board 6-2. With the meat of the order coming up, and only one out recorded, the crowd suddenly had visions of a dramatic last minute come-back. But, alas, it was not to be.

Mike Lowell's ErrorClay Buchholz, the Boston starter, had an up and down outing. He looked terrific opening up the game, and after two innings, he also had a no hitter going. But, with one out in the third, Mike Lowell misplayed an easy ground ball, and the inning unravelled for Buchholz. Before you knew it, there were two runs in, bases loaded, and still only one out. Not only that, but Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels power hitter, was at the plate. My stomach sank. one swing of the bat and this game was over before it got going. But, Clay showed some moxie forcing Vlad to ground into a blessed inning ending double play.

Clay BuchholzClay started off the 4th inning by allowing a single and a home run. Everyone was waiting for Francona to get him out of there before everything caved in. But, Varitek went out for a chat, soundly slapped Clay across the face and said "snap out of it man, your team needs you". With that, Clay realized he was right and proceeded to retire the next 10 batters in a row, taking the Sox into the 7th inning and saving the bullpen some wear and tear. So, a mixed outing for Clay, but he is showing signs of being a valuable member of the rotation.

Meanwhile, I attended the game with my daughter, and my sister and her son. Baseball is a game of streaks, trends, and records, and my sister has one going that we pray will end. She has never attended a Sox game in person and had the Sox win the game. So, next time she goes to a game, I'll let y'all know so you can adjust your wagers accordingly. The kids had fun though, and it was, for them, a pleasantly quick game, ending in 2 hours and 28 minutes!

Now, can the Sox get back on track behind Beckett tonight?

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


Peter N said...

Hi Rooster--it's Peter on Thursday morning. It just keeps getting uglier, and by 4pm, we'll ALL learn that Manny is gone. Who'd a thunk?

Soxlosophy said...

there's definately a difference between acknowledging a no-hitter after it happens, however grudingly, and rooting for it to happen before it does.

why would i root for the other team to no hit the sox? i wouldn't. if i want history i can open a textbook. i want to win.

Peter N said...

Manny will be Manny on the left coast, for Joe Torre...and no reliever back! WOW!

Suldog said...

Love the headline, Rooster!

Can't wait for your detailed analysis of the actual trade that was made.