I'm starting a fresh post, because I wrote most of the below in the early innings, and it really feels like a whole different game all of a sudden.
I'll have to admit I had conceded this one even before YoYo took the mound to pour on the gas. With the score 8-4 Tigers, I headed out to run an errand, and was driving back just in time to hear Joe Castiglione explain that Detroit's Francisco Cruceta probably didn't want to face Mike Lowell, per se, but with the count run up on Manny, he might as well put him on base along with Jacoby Ellsbury and take his chances...
Turns out that's what Cruceta did. NESN cut to commercial on a shot of him looking balefully out to the bullpen, where help was not exactly on the way. The score was 8-5 Tigers after Youkilis went deep for the second time tonight. (Beard Power! Youkilis also had a fit at the home plate umpire before all was said and done, accentuating his ferociousness.)
When the game resumed, Mike Lowell took an exceptionally high "strike" from Cruceta, then waited through two more pitches for his meatball, which he crushed into the left-field seats. Tie ball game. 24 combined hits. The Tigers must have been wondering what vengeful god they angered over the last week, because this game was pure insanity, and it looked like another one was slipping away.
BUT! Those tables were turned again before long (while the insanity quotient remained very much the same). There was a pinch hit from Dustin Pedroia that made the score 9-8 Sox, but a totally Twilight Zone ninth inning consisting of an 'excuse me' infield single, a horrible error (You are the weakest link, Julio), a groundout to force across the tying run, and, for the final ridiculous flourish, a broken-bat blooper into left ended things on a disconcerting note, to say the least.
Did I say this felt like two different games? Make it three. Or four. Honestly, I lost count. All I know is, I started off being at peace with a loss, got sucked back in to a possible win, and then somehow wound up watching Jonathan Papelbon show off skills learned at the Josh Beckett School of Water Cooler Abuse in the dugout.
It's hard to complain about the first loss in five games. Especially when the team on the other side hasn't won in just as long, and you see their home fans jump up and down and scream in disbelief...and...I, uh...wait, did Papelbon just blow a save?