Things are getting really ugly. Well that was a kick in the head, wasn’t it? When the bullpen blows a game, well, that’s baseball. When it blows two, and it’s the same guy both times, and that guy just happens to be the major trade-deadline acquisition, and did we mention the Yankees never, ever, lose, the Sox definitely won’t be greeted as liberators when they return home tonight after their long trip through the wilderness.
Not that’s it’s going to get ridiculous or anything, but the Herald is running an online poll asking who was to blame for yesterday’s game: Eric Gagne, Terry Francona or, uh, Theo Epstein. Right, because I swear I saw Theo getting thrown out at third with less than two outs.
The bullpen arsonist in question is, of course, Gagne, and he seemed appropriately ticked off at himself yesterday afternoon after serving up a two-run homer to Miguel Tejada in the eighth.
“This is getting (expletive) ridiculous, this has got to (expletive) stop,” Gagne said. “We should have won three out of three games here, and I blew two of them. It’s a bunch of everything, it’s a bunch of (expletive). I’m not doing my job. I’m letting everyone here down.”
There are two prevailing theories as to why Gagne has suddenly turned into Ramiro Mendoza. One is that he hasn’t adjusted to pitching in the eighth inning, which seems like one of those silly sportswriter/broadcaster things, like “clutch hitting,” etc. The other is that he was struggling before he got here. That one doesn’t really work either. If you check out his game log, he really had just one bad outing and one mediocre one in July before coming to Boston.
So, what gives?
1. He’s falling behind hitters and has to throw fastballs. Fastballs which no longer light up the radar gun at 97 with regularity, by the way.
2. Terry Francona is over-managing the bullpen. The formula had been so good all year, why was Tito compelled to play matchups in the eighth?
3. He’s hurt. No one has suggested this, no one has raised the issue but the man is coming off two mostly wasted years and so the question is logical: Is he injured?
Right now Gagne’s spot in the bullpen pecking order should be ahead of (just barely) Julian Tavarez and Kyle Snyder, and behind (gulp) Mike Timlin.
Still, as the Nation frets it can take comfort in the knowledge that: The Sox still have the best record in baseball, there are no more West Coast trips on the horizon, and the Yankees can’t possibly keep scoring 700 runs every game. Right?