Friday, August 04, 2006

It Must Be the Full Moon

There must be a full moon. Jupiter must be aligned with Mars. Peace must be guiding the planets and love steering the stars. How else to explain what's taken place in Boston the last few nights.

Last night, for example, Jake Westbrook gave up 15, count 'em, 15 hits and won. According to Sheldon Ocker in the Akron Beacon Journal Westbrook is the first pitcher this year to give up 15 hits and the first since 1988 to give up that many hits and win. If I'm a Red Sox fan, and I'm not, I'd be worried about a team that can scratch out 15 hits and score only 6 runs. What that tells me is that they play down to their level of competition, which is why, actually, they won two games in a series in which they deserved to get swept.

Truth be told, the Indians more or less outplayed the Red Sox for much of the series. But for the latest tinkering with the bullpen, the Tribe would have swept the series. In fact, in many ways large and small, it was this tinkering that cost the Tribe not only the series but their season as well. You'll recall that GM Mark Shapiro has been experimenting with the closer role since the last off-season. It was Shapiro's obsession with replacing Bob Wickman that caused him to pursue Trevor Hoffman, among others, will simultaneously ignoring Bobby Howry. Hoffman never left San Diego, Shapiro was forced to re-sign a guy he didn't want and Howry was off finding the 3-year deal that eluded him in Cleveland. And so the dominos began to fall.

The latest new closer is Fausto Carmona (or is it Jason Davis?) Carmona's collapse was spectacular even by Indians standards. Ok, David Ortiz is David Ortiz. No shame, I suppose, in giving up a walk-off two-run homer, although it was a two-run homer. But his flameout Wednesday night was the stuff of legends and poetry. So complete and bizarre was his undoing you just had to marvel at its historical proportions. With two outs and no one on and one strike away from recording his first save, Carmona proceeded to hit Doug Mirabelli on the arm on a 3-2 pitch. Not satisfied, Carmona plunked Alex Gonzalez on the arm as well on the very next pitch. Kevin Youkillis, whose surname aptly describes the damage he had done to the Tribe during the series, avoided Carmona's wildness long enough to walk to first. Mike Loretta, predictably, hit a double to end the game. Interestingly, just prior to his walk-off double, Loretta had to scurry out of the way of another fastball gone awry from Carmona.

According to Tribe Manager Eric Wedge, he plans to stick with Carmona, as if he has a choice. Shapiro, aided and abetted by his cheapskate employer, has made a mess of this season by dismantling the heart of last year's 93-win team. At this point it matters little if Wedge trots out Carmona to close out a win. Save opportunities are so few and far between anyway at least we can be wildly entertained by the latest Wild Thing. Maybe what Carmona needs is a pair of glasses.

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