9.05.02: As I look forward to the start of the
Patriots' title defense, a couple last head scratchers as we shovel dirt on the
Did we acquire Cliff Floyd to be a platoon player down the
stretch? Would Tony Clark be getting September at-bats on any other team in the
Majors? Not any other contenders, and other team?
If Cliff can pinch hit, he can play. This is absurd. He
doesn't get any more days off, Grady. Zero. And Tony Clark gets no more starts.
Zero. No more starting three No. 9 hitters.
The latest "nail in the coffin" loss can be distilled down to
four pitches, two 3-1 pitches and two 0-2 pitches. In the top of the second
Jason Varitek and Tony Clark both worked the count to 3-and-1. They both got
nice "hittin' speed" fastballs from Andy Pettitte, 89-90 m.p.h. and right down
the middle. Varitek popped to second. Clark popped to short. Assuming you are
sitting fastball and get a mediocre one in a good spot to hit, how do you not at
the very least hit the ball hard? Oh, right, you suck. Varitek has now gone 91
at-bats without a home run in this stretch run. The guy is listed at 237 pounds
for chrissakes! He's a frickin' slap hitter who strikes out a lot. Yuck. And
Tony Clark... yeesh. How does this guy get a start in a crucial game?
In the bottom of the third Derek Lowe quickly got ahead of
No. 9 hitter Juan Rivera 0-2 but left a pitch up and over the plate and Rivera
whacked it to right for a double, igniting a three-run rally that was capped
when Jorge Posada drove in Bernie Williams. Williams reached when an errant 0-2
breaking ball from Lowe glanced off his shin.
So there it is. We had two guys who couldn't hit the ball out
of the infield, never mind reach base, on fat 3-1 pitches. And they had two guys
not only reach base but score runs despite being down 0-and-2. And that's how
you lose close games.
The Sox are pretty much done. This idea that they'd play .900
ball down the
stretch is a fantasy. The Jays are much better with the kids and we can't beat
the O's Rodrigo Lopez. Assuming the Angels and Mariners play .500 combined
against the amazin' A's and last-place Rangers, the Sox will be stuck watching
one of them win each time they play. No way to gain ground on them both. Burkett
is brutal. Castillo is brutal against everyone but the Yankees. And Pedro can't
lift his leg.
Still, Petey slide-stepping for 90 pitches still gives us a
better chance to win than those other two guys.
But, as we all knew, there was no way we were going to
overcome that 5-20 stretch in one-run games. The grim truth is that $115 million
bought the sixth-best team in the American League.