The Red Sox fell 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Patriots' Day, but it was a game that could have been very different if not for some bad calls--one by Bobby Valentine, and three by home plate umpire Larry Vanover.
For the first six innings of the game, the Sox and Rays were locked in a scoreless tie as Daniel Bard and James Shields kept the lineups in check. While Bard was struggling with his fastball command throughout, his slider had enough punch to keep the Rays guessing and striking out. James Shields, on the other hand, was just plain dominant.
The seventh inning is where things changed. Already with a ton of pitches on his arm, Bard got the first two batters out, and then fell behind to three straight batters, surrendering a walk to Sean Rodriguez, a hit to Desmond Jennings, and a walk to Carlos Pena. Bobby Valentine inexplicably didn't leave the pen once, and even after the walk to Pena loaded the bases, was content to let Bard pitch to Evan Longoria. The four-pitch, go-ahead walk that followed was the obvious outcome.
The Red Sox would eventually get themselves a chance to win this game in the ninth, when Dustin Pedroia walked and the Rays decided to intentionally walk David Ortiz with two outs rather than pitch to the big-hitting lefty, but Fernando Rodney either had some dirt on Larry Vanover, or Mr. Vanover had to be somewhere in a hurry, because with the Rays' closer throwing five straight balls to Cody Ross, Vanover decided to call three of them strikes, ending the game in a horrible show of umpiring.
Bobby Valentine Costanza: Seinfeld fans will fondly remember George's attempt to get himself fired from the Yankees, including eating strawberries in an old Babe Ruth jersey and driving around the parking lot, dragging a World Series trophy behind his car while hurling abuses at the front office.
One wonders if perhaps Bobby Valentine is doing the same right now. First the Youkilis comments, which really serve no purpose other than to create difficulties in a clubhouse that doesn't need them. Now the disaster in the seventh. This is the second time he's had to admit to a terrible decision during post-game interviews, and we're just ten games in! What on Earth is he thinking?
Larry Vanover Is Blind:
(via Brooks Baseball)