Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 10
Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays was a baseball tragedy of the highest order.
The Red Sox lost the game 11-10 after Mike Aviles was thrown out trying to steal second even though the Sox had already put up two of the three runs they would have need for a comeback against Frank Francisco. But nothing that happened in the ninth inning really mattered aside from in a win-loss column that seems all-too-unimportant as the year winds down.
Instead, the tragedy came in the eighth, when Tim Wakefield, making his seventh attempt at his 200th win, had his elusive prize violently snatched away from him.
The Red Sox' offense had completely pulled its weight, putting up three runs in the first and chasing Brandon Morrow after homers from Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz in the fourth and fifth innings made it 8-5 in favor of Boston. Those five runs were, yes, off of Wakefield, but the knuckleballer was finally in a situation where #200 was within his grasp, regardless of how well or poorly he had thrown the ball.
The middle innings were the minefield looming on the horizon. The Sox' bullpen has all of three reliable arms in it, and one of those--Alfredo Aceves--had pitched nearly four innings just two days prior. So it fell to Franklin Morales and Dan Wheeler to do the job. The former could not, allowing two baserunners while recording just one out. But Wheeler came in, put up a couple of outs, and then another couple in the seventh. He gave up one run, but that's acceptable given the situation. Daniel Bard comes out and closes the inning on three pitches. All is well.
Then came the eighth, and things fell apart.
With a 1-2 pitch, Daniel Bard hit Brett Lawrie to start the frame. The next pitch found its way into right field for a single, and after getting up 0-2, Bard threw four straight balls and walked Adam Loewen. Just like that, and the bases were loaded with zero outs.
Terry Francona's response? To start warming Matt Albers.
To Daniel Bard's credit, he bounced back, striking out DeWayne Wise, and coming back from a 3-1 count to get Yunel Elscobar on a nasty front-door slider. But his control problems were not gone, and an 0-2 count to Eric Thames of all people turned into an RBI walk.
Jonathan Papeblon was still nowhere to be seen. And Jose Bautista was up. If anyone held any sort of faith that the Red Sox were leaving that inning with a lead, they had more faith than I. They were also wrong. Jose Bautista walked, and Tim Wakefields win vanished into thin air. From there, the Jays were just a Matt Albers double away from salting the wound.
The events of the ninth were disappointing in their own right, and in some way made things even worse with Adrian Gonzalez' leadoff homer going for naught. But tonight was all about Tim Wakefield. About the end to a long Red Sox nightmare. About kicking a developing curse and being reassured that the longest tenured current Red Sox player would not end his career just short.
Now we'll have to wait and see, all the while with this loss stewing, smoldering, festering.