Squeezed, then rocked
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
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
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.
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including a 3-run dinger, accounted for half of the Sox's runs batted
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