Now they're just toying with me.
I should've known it wasn't like the Red Sox to just let me sink gently into a numb and meaningless remainder of the season. Nope, now they're kindling a little fire of hope in the rain at Fenway Park. Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis are standing around it, blowing on it, feeding it pine needles with their sharp defense. Kason Gabbard, like Julian Tavarez before him, is fanning the flames.
The Red Sox are forcing me to torture metaphors. Help.
But seriously--there is no beauty quite like a one-run game. By definition, a game in which only one run scores must be airtight and played with no room for error.
Begin in the first inning, at the very top, when Mike Lowell dove, snared the ball, and threw Pablo Ozuna out at first before he even knew what had happened. Welcome to tonight's ballgame. Mr. Lowell here will be your third baseman for the evening.
Then it was Gonzo's turn--ranging and spinning at short, he made quick work of Tadahito Iguchi and Joe Crede for the remaining two outs of the first. ...and Mr. Gonzalez will be taking care of you at short. Wave to the nice White Sox, Mr. Gonzalez.
That was for openers. Two batters later in the Sox half of the inning, and the ballpark erupted into an ovation that looked as if it was causing tremors as far away as Somerville. Big Papi was back. He would swing for the downs and miss on nearly every pitch he saw, but the ovations didn't stop for his every at-bat. Papi, like Jason Varitek, means more to the team than his offensive output.
After that little mood-lightener, it was lather, rinse, repeat. Time after time Kason Gabbard, pitching beyond his means, would induce a ground ball, and time after time the Electrolux that was the Sox infield would scoop up the ball and gun a guy, or two guys in many cases, down. There were run-of-the-mill double plays, diving grabs, spectacular double plays, zinging liners snared by a glove, and then, in the top of the sixth, towering above all the other defensive accomplishments, an astonishing game-saving maneuver by Messrs. Lowell and Youkilis.
As in the first, Joe Crede and Tadahito Iguchi were the victims. Crede lined out to Lowell, a little lame-duck that sank fast, but was gloved by Lowell, of course, in plenty of time to double off Iguchi at first, with a desperate, hurried throw that pulled Youkilis off the bag and onto what Remy so quaintly refers to as "the back pockets", but not before Youkilis, in a stupendous feat of mind over matter, brought his toe down firmly on the dge of the bag for the out.
I mean...what WAS that?
Ridiculous, is what it was.
After Gabbard left, Mike Timlin got six outs. Do not attempt to adjust your sets: Mike Timlin got six outs, and closed the game--though Jim Thome, up with two outs in the top of the ninth, represented the go-ahead run and came within a whisper of sending a laser base hit into right center. But Loretta caught it, and just like that, in the driving rain, the Sox have now taken two of three.
Why do they have to tease me like this?
P.S. Why I want to hug Tito Francona, part #2341675: "Transient subluxation. (sarcastically) We all know what that is. Jesus, it sounds like a guy who lives under a bridge."