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Bullpen Boner!

(September 8)  

Short take:  Someone wake up Gandhi

Turn out the lights, Sox Fans.  In a season filled with titillating second chances for our team, here finally was the Big One that beaned this brain-dead outfit straight in the head.  The Sox catch lead in the cranium, shot from the bat of Jim Thome in the eighth inning.  The Sox stumbled forward into the ninth and collapsed like every Sox Fan knew they would, a two-out rbi double ends the game and the Sox season.  We lose 8-7.  85 years and eternity still await us.

It could have been a lot less painful.  Starter Gary Glover got lit for a grand slam the very first inning.  Our Sox could have gone quietly the remaining eight innings.  Nope, this team loves teasing us and tonight was no exception.  So the Sox roar back for six runs in the next inning, keyed by a three-run dinger by Josh Paul and a pair of rbi-doubles by Magglio Ordonez and Paul Konerko.  The Sox took a 6-4 lead.  

Jose Canseco added a solo homer in the fifth.  That was the last Sox run of the game.  We were ripe for the taking and the Tribe took it.  They went to work the very next inning.

Glover settled in and pitched four scoreless innings after the nighmarish first, but the sixth has been his downfall and tonight was no exception.  A solo dinger made in 7-5 Sox.  Alan Embree and Kip Wells kept the Tribe off the board through the seventh.

That set the stage for the fateful eighth.  Whatever was going through the minds of Jerry Manuel, pitching coach Nardi Contreras, and set up man Bob Howry is anyone's guess.  With a runner on second, two out, and the league's leading homerun hitter coming to the plate, lefty Jim Thome, conventional baseball wisdom dictates walking the guy and taking your chances with righty Marty Cordova or whatever pinch hitter Cleveland might use.

Nope.  Whatever Contreras told Howry on the mound, the topic of avoiding a fat pitch down the heart of the plate apparently was not discussed.  Howry quickly fell behind 2-0 and then served up the biggest watermelon of the 2001 season.  It shot through the stale air of Cleveland so fast, Sox Fans half-expected to hear a sonic boom. 

What was Jerry Manuel thinking?  If he wants a walk, why risk anything near the plate in such a no-win situation?  First base was open!  If he hoped Thome would be anxious and take an ill-advised swing at something away from the plate, don't you leave strict instructions for Howry to keep the ball low and away even more so the last two pitches?  

And if Manuel did intend to pitch to Thome, why is he managing a major league baseball team?  Mental midgets like Don Zimmer don't have major league managing jobs for making just these sorts of stupid "I had a hunch" strategic blunders.  That's inexcusable, especially given the importance of the game.

Whatever.

The game was tied and the inevitable collapse around the corner.  Keith Foulke pitches the ninth and hits Travis Fryman in his baggy shirt with a two-strike pitch.  Gee, that hasn't happened too often this year, has it Sox Fans?  Next Kenny Lofton doubles home the winning run, running on contact since it was two out.

Nothing compares to the hurt felt by Sox Fans at the end of that game in Minnesota last June, but this one comes awfully close.

The three-legged mongrel that this Sox team has become is finally given a mortal wound.  Time to wait for somebody else's magic number to count us out.  Then it's wait till next year.

Sox Fans, eternity is a hell of a long time.

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner

Ray Durham

3 for 5 with a run scored. A double and a stolen base, the Sox score lots of runs when Durham gets on base.

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  2001 Sox Schedule | Sox Clubhouse message board

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