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Squeezed, then rocked

(August 19)

Short take:  Oakland is better.

The Sox scored more earned runs than Oakland, and lost.  The Sox out-hit Oakland, and lost.  The Sox committed fewer errors, and lost.  The Sox young hurler was clearly the superior pitcher to the young hurler Oakland used, and yet the Sox still lost.  

The Sox were swept in the three-game series, beaten 8-7 by Oakland, and there wasn't an honest Sox Fan in attendance who wouldn't say Oakland is the better team.

That's what it is in 2001 to be a fan of the Pale Hose.

The fateful fifth inning might be the moment in the season Sox Fans look back upon as when the final nail was driven into our team's championship aspirations.  The Sox were up 4-1, powered by a Carlos Lee three-run bomb off hothead Tim Hudson.  The lead wouldn't last long.

Homeplate umpire Mike Fichter heard chirping from the Sox dugout the prior four innings as Mark Buehrle was getting squeezed both inside and outside the plate.  The five walks he allowed were some kind of bad joke the way Fichter was calling them.  Thanks to Fichter's elevator shaft strike zone, Oakland got runners at first and second base with one out.  Paul Konerko did an "ole" at a bouncer past first base for an error, scoring the first of four unearned runs the Sox would gift wrap for Oakland.

In the most animated display by Jerry Manuel since the infamous "Pedro four foot-wide strike zone" debacle of last year, Manuel screamed and shouted into Fichter's face, obviously indifferent to what most certainly would be a game ejection.  Good for you, Jerry.  Buehrle never had a chance with this pig's strike zone.

More defensive gaffes followed.  A pop-fly to right field found Magglio Ordonez surprised to find his shoe laces tied together.  He tripped, stumbled, waddled to the wall, double-clutched on a weak throw and so misplayed the ball, the lumbering ox Jason Giambi could have scored from first base walking on his hands.  

It would be a hell of a circus act if Giambi could do that trick while balancing a ball on his nose, wouldn't it?

The Sox managed to get the lead back in the bottom of the frame thanks to rbi singles by Ordonez and Lee, but in the sixth innng Rocky Biddle was lit like a Christmas tree for two runs and five hits.  Oakland never looked back.

A ninth inning rally ended with Jeff Liefer swinging at strike three and the tying run at first base.  Afterwards everyone in the clubhouse said all the right things about Oakland, what a fine team they are, and what a terrific battle the Sox had fought.  

Here's the ugly truth.  The Sox lost, they are two games under .500, and they have no business playing in October.  Their next opponent is last-place Kansas City, a team whose baseball skills are much closer to ours than the playoff-bound Oakland Athletics.

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner

Carlos Lee

3 for 4 including a 3-run dinger, accounted for half of the Sox's runs batted in.  

Play WSI's Pick to Click Contest!

  2001 Sox Schedule | Sox Clubhouse message board

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