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Game Story, 7.7.07: TIgers snub Sox, 3-2 in 13 innings

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Source: Yahoo!
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon kicks a water cooler after giving up the game-winning single to Detroit Tigers' Ivan Rodriguez that scored Gary Sheffield from second base in the 13th inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 7, 2007 in Detroit. The Tigers beat the Red Sox 3-2.

In a game where Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin and Javier Lopez kept the Tigers scoreless for 5.2 innings, Jonathan Papelbon turns out to be the weak link in the 13th inning.

I had a feeling once Papelbon came in that a big plate of irony was going to be served to Red Sox Nation. The scenario was perfect: Terry Francona somehow -- SOMEHOW! -- manages into the 13th inning without using his best option in the bullpen. So while all of Red Sox Nation sits back in their chairs and breathes a sigh of relief -- SMACK! That's when the Sox get handed the loss. The Sox couldn't lose when Timlin or Lopez was on the mound, it had to be our Golden Child to make the lose even worse.

We could be calling for the heads of some other relief pitcher the morning after a huge Holy-Crap-That-Sucked kind of loss, but not after Papelbon gave up the single to Ivan Rodriguez in the 13th. Today we just gotta' say: We'll get 'em tomorrow (or, today).

I don't think I've ever smacked myself in the head more than watching innings six through 13 yesterday. I've got some questions:

  1. What was with JD Drew swinging and missing at three sliders, two of them in the dirt, with the bases loaded?
  2. Why was Okajima kept in for 2.1 innings? That could have really backfired. I think Francona got lucky when Oki got out of the jam last night.
  3. Why pinch-hit Jeff Bailey for Eric Hinske in the 11th? I realize Macay McBride, a lefty, was in the game, but then Zach Miner came in right after. That was waste No. 1 of a substitution.
  4. Julio Lugo can't hit. OK, that wasn't a question, but Dustin Pedroia, also known as "Spark plug" and "Scrappy Doo," missed out on two at-bats because Lugo pinch-ran for him in the 8th. I completely understand what Francona was trying to do, but in the long run, which is more important: Lugo's better speed over Pedroia, or Pedroia's MUCH better hitting over Lugo?

My overall feeling is that Francona made some very questionable moves and non-moves in last night's game with his bullpen and subs. Our bullpen did an amazing job and they deserve a lot of credit for keeping us in the game against one of the best offenses in baseball.

We lost and it hurts, but games like this are a dime a dozen. Sometimes for us, sometimes against us. The best the Sox can do now is win with Daisuke Matsuzaka today and go into the break on a winning streak.

WINNER: Delcarmen, Okajima, Timlin, Lopez. These guys deserve it. Honorable mention goes to David Ortiz, who went 2-for-2 with four walks, and a 2-run home run.

WINNER: Manny Ramirez. Manny was plain out bad. Double plays left and right and he couldn't make the Tigers pay for all the intentional walks of Ortiz.