Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Can Wakefield Secure Playoff Spot?

The Red Sox, somewhat surprisingly, lost to Cleveland 4-3 last night, even with Josh Beckett on the mound and a case of champagne hanging in the balance. Certainly not the result we were looking for. While Dice-K turned in a "playoff ready" performance the night before, Beckett was unable to register his own readiness with the fans. Beckett looked sloppy at times, hit 2 batters in one inning and walked in a run with bases loaded in the second. I don't think there is a reason to panic, I think Josh just had a less than stellar night.

Josh BeckettThe loss turns out to be fortuitous for me, however, as I have tickets for tonight's game. This will be the second game I've attended when the Sox would be able to clinch a playoff spot with a win. The last time I had this opportunity was a game I went to with my Dad on October 2, 1990. The Red Sox were playing the White Sox, and a win would clinch the AL East. Both teams scored in the first inning and held the 1-1 tie until the 7th, when Chicago went up by one. In the bottom of the 8th, the Sox rallied to tie the score at 2, and the game went all the way into the eleventh inning. The crowd was getting exhausted, but we cheered and pleaded the team to score just one little run and unleash the euphoria we had bottled up inside.

Alas, the White Sox were the ones to score in the 11th inning, and the red Sox were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning. We all went home frustrated, and pondering whether there really was a curse. The next night, as you recall, we all got to see Tom Brunansky make his historic diving catch in right field to end the final game of the season and send the Red Sox to the playoffs in dramatic fashion.

I missed that play by one day in 1990. Eighteen years later, I'm back for redemption. The Sox loss last night was simply a sign that it is meant to be. Tonight, Tim Wakefield's knuckler will behave itself and dance the night away. Big Papi will continue launching bombs into the Red Sox bullpen, and it will be the new guy, Mark Kotsay, who will be called on to make the improbable head first dive into the right field corner (right in front of my seats), to save the day and unleash a downpour of champagne over Fenway Park.

Sound Good? Certainly sounds better than clinching the Wild Card thanks to a Yankee loss. As far as the Division Title goes, the Red Sox lass last night combined with the Rays' win puts it ever further out of reach. In order for the Sox to not be mathematically eliminated from the Division Title, the Rays have to lose AT LEAST 4 of their remaining 7 games. If the Rays do go 3-4 to finish the season, the Red Sox would have to sweep all their remaining games, going 6-0. Hmm, can you see how unlikely this is looking? Not impossible, no, just tantalizingly close, yet just at the end of your fingertips. Like trying to get that last pickle slice from the bottom of the jar. You fingers can touch it, but can't quite snare it.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Suldog said...

In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that you'll see the clincher tonight. I expect Wake to throw a good one - let's say 7 innings, 2 runs - and a fairly easy Sox victory.

Of course, I bet on Liechtenstein in World War Two, so...

Rooster said...

The only thing that worries me about tonight is that Cliff Lee is pitching for the Indians. He's having quite a season, but the Sox have gotten to him in the past.

If we clobber him, maybe we can boost Dice-K's Cy Young posture?

I thought Liechtenstein DID win WW2? I must be thinking of "Ulrich von Liechtenstein". He won the joust tournament, right?