Even if you don't know much about Greek mythology, you've probably heard of Sisyphus before. He's the unlucky guy who, for committing some crime against the Gods, is damned to push a boulder up a hill for the rest of eternity. And every time he got close to the top, the boulder would somehow get away from him and roll right back to the bottom, leaving him to start over again.
I bring this up because today the Red Sox played the most Sisyphean game of baseball in recent memory.
The hill was produced early, as Felix Doubront walked Jose Bautista, let him steal second base, and then had a ground ball find its way through the left side of the infield for the RBI single. Not much of a climb, but still, a lead to overcome.
Boston's initial efforts against Esmil Rogers were uninspired. It wasn't until there were two down in the third that Jacoby Ellsbury picked up the team's first hit, and that came on an inield single. They weren't threatening anything but a shutout. And that would have been bad, but also, on some level, less torturous. A simple matter of domination, cut-and-dry, open-and-close, move on to the next game and say no more.
But when the fourth rolled around, the torment began. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double, then was stranded as David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, and Daniel Nava went down in order, never so much as advancing him to third. Then in the sixth, after Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to start the inning, Jose Iglesias ripped a line drive to the left side. It was as hard hit a ball as you'll ever see result in an infielder recording an out, this time with Mark DeRosa gloving the rocket. Jarrod Saltalamacchia would advance to second on a wild pitch, but that just made Colby Rasmus' incredible diving catch on Jonathan Diaz' line drive to center that much more painful. Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to left, and just like that, the boulder rolled back down.
Jose Bautista made it a 2-0 game with a homer in the sixth, so of course the Red Sox upped their levels of frustration in the bottom of the inning. This time it was Shane Victorino leading off the inning with a double. This time, though, the Red Sox actually managed not one, but two hits behind him, with Dustin Pedroia starting by pushing a ground ball through the right side with a single. But, even with nobody out, David Ortiz coming up to bat, and Jose Bautista in right field, Brian Butterfield decided to send Victorino. He was out at home by three steps.
Of course, David Ortiz followed with a single to really drive the nail home before Napoli and Nava stranded both runners.
Finally, in the seventh, the Red Sox seemed to have gotten to the top. With the bases loaded despite a squeeze play resulting in yet another out at home, Shane Victorino laced a single to center field, and just like that the game was tied. Their torment had come to an end.
And then the boulder rolled down the other side of the hill.
Within two at bats in the top of the eighth, Junichi Tazawa had allowed two runs, both coming on Jose Bautista's second shot of the night. It's almost as though the bottom of the second had occured just to make the fall that much worse.
The Blue Jays didn't finish there, with terrible defensive gaffes from Mike Napoli and Jonathan Diaz allowing them to push across a pair of runs that really should be unearned off Craig Breslow in the ninth. That just served to make the final score more lopsided, however, as the Sox mounted no serious rally in the last two innings, leaving them 6-2 losers.
Games get a lot worse than this. 15-inning marathons, no-hitters, walkoff losses...But this sort of monstrosity has its own place in the pantheon of awful. That game where a team keeps getting closer, closer, closer, only to have the carrot yanked cruelly away from them time and time again.
Read more Red Sox:
- The Celtics, the Red Sox, and two franchise-saving trades
- John Lackey finally living up to his contract
- MLB All-Star Game 2013: Two Red Sox prospects named to Futures Game
- Farrell: Red Sox "better team" with Jose Iglesias at third base
- The Kevin Youkilis trade, one year later