Jeremy Hermida probably saved the life of David Ortiz. After Papi's final at-bat of the night, which saw him strand a cumulative seven baserunners and ground into two double plays, most Sox fans were undoubtedly as on-edge as I was. It's a hard thing to accept when your love doesn't accomplish anything. No matter how much love all of us have poured into Papi this year, he's not getting results, and you can see all over the big guy's face just how much the lack of results bothers him. Some people claim steroids. He suddenly can't hit for power any more, so he must just be off the juice! Right?! Unless steroids give people abilities that I haven't heard about, I'm pretty sure his lack of steroids doesn't account for the horrible, HORRIBLE pitches he's been swinging at. It's not that he isn't driving the ball, it's that he's swinging at really bad pitches and getting on top of a lot of good pitches. Something's not right with Papi still, but it's sure not related to steroids. I'm sure of it. More likely, it's a confidence thing. Papi doesn't believe in himself, and no matter how much we believe in him, he won't turn it around until HE thinks that he can.
But Papi is now batting a heartbreaking .149. His partner in misery, JD Drew, has managed to get his batting average up over a hundred points in the last week or so, finishing up yesterday's game at .258. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the 8th inning of an incredibly well-pitched game by Jon Lester, Papi stepped to the plate. This at-bat terrified me. Papi hadn't put a good swing on the ball all night, and now here he was in a situation he used to excel in. It broke my heart that he was the last person I wanted to see up there, and of course, my fear was justified. On three pitches, a 2-0 count that he shouldn't even have been swinging at with Jepsen's inability to find the strike zone, Ortiz grounded into a double play. The Angels got the out at home and then still had time to turn and fire to first, retiring a very sad-faced Papi. Three years ago, David would have gotten that ball up in the air. Now, he just hit over it and put us in a horrible position. The worst of all for me was that this was the at-bat when I finally realized that no amount of support was going to make Papi better. He shouldn't be batting that high up in the order. It nearly killed us last night... but I am NOT giving up on Ortiz. I'll never give up on Ortiz. He needs us now the way we've needed him so many times. Bump him down in the order a little bit, but he needs to be in there to work his way out of this!
Of course Mike Lowell is deserving of the at-bats, but... I don't know. There's no easy solution to this. I want them both to play. Wait... I have a solution! Get rid of Beltre, then we can all be happy again!
Luckily, after a walk (?!) to Beltre, Wolverine stepped up and made everything ok again, hitting a three-run double to the warning track in left that Rivera botched pretty well. Jon Lester, sitting in the dugout next to his mentor and twin, jumped up and could clearly be seen shouting "F@#$ yeah!"... guess he had to channel Dustin Pedroia for a moment there. It was a wonderful moment... the moment we realized that Jon's 8-inning, 1-run effort was going to result in a win.
Let's go back to Dustin for a minute, shall we? That double play to end the top of the eighth was just about brilliant because it worked. That was a very heads-up play by Munchkin, and it not only spared Jon Lester the added ER, but it got him out of the jam, and ended the inning, and I would say it sort of hyped everyone up. It was the type of play that you don't see often, but when you see it, it's fantastic. All the variables lined up just right. As Munchkin fell to the ground and flung the ball, admit it... you held your breath. When Youk gloved it at first, there was nothing but happiness. Definitely the defensive play of the game. Nothing else even comes close.
While I was a little pissed off that with all the pitches Santana threw early in the game, we couldn't get to him or knock him out early, I couldn't have asked for much more from Jon last night. Five strikeouts to counter his two walks, eight innings and five hits. Can we keep this Jon Lester? I really like this one!
Anyway. Lackey against his former team tonight. Let's see if John can, you know, follow Jon's example.
4 days ago