Ack. Ugly 13-10 loss with some horrific umpiring thrown in for kicks. It seems amusing now, but I was initially pleased with the game because in a bit of role reversal, it was Boston who answered the Orioles with go-ahead runs. Baltimore led 3-1 after one inning, but Boston struck for 3 in the top of the 2nd on Damon's 100th career home run. Then, when Baltimore tied it in the 4th, Manny gave the Sox the lead with a 5th inning shot. ... All that changed in the 7th & 8th innings.
After five innings, a not-so-sharp Burkett (4 runs, 7 hits, 80 pitches) should have been watched closely (or even pulled), even though Boston had an 8-4 cushion. But Grady Gump continued his pathological aversion to replacing a pitcher mid-inning and kept Burkett out there to allow 3 hits and bring the tying run to the plate. ... Timlin, Embree, Williamson and Kim all failed to get key outs and mental mistakes (most notably Kim looking to 2B on Matos's bunt) spelled doom. Good discussion of bullpen woes here. Has anyone seen Bronson Arroyo? After allowing 1 run and 3 hits in 6.1 innings against the Yankees and Mariners, he hasn't pitched since August 30, while Gump overuses Timlin and Kim.
Gump must replace Walker with Jackson/Merloni in the late innings of every game (like subbing Stapleton for Buckner). A major league 2B has to make the play on Batista's rotuine grounder in the 8th, and he should also get the hell out of the way of his charging CF. It's maddening. Gump thinks he's showing faith in Walker by not pulling him, but then Walker's out there trying to do a job he can't do. So when he fails, how can that make him feel better?
Also: Monday's lineup and their rank in obp: 896145237. Grady continues putting the guys who get on base the least at the top of the order and cutting the plate appearances for 2 of the top 3 OBP guys. ... NESN/Remy mentions team fielding percentage when showing who's playing in the field at the start of every game; hey guys, it's 2003, not 1883, fielding percentage is worthless. And when will NESN plan its commercials better so fans don't miss pitches? Last night, we missed the first pitch of the Orioles 4th and the first 2 pitches of the Orioles 6th. If that doesn't sound like much, (a) I want to see the entire game and (b) they've missed a first-pitch Manny home run earlier this season. There is no excuse for it.
BlogWatch: House That Dewey Built has a good examination of the blown calls and ejections from last night, which is good, because I'm simply not up to it; PSF's Fenway Cam is back up; the Baseball Crank has a detailed look at the 1928 pennant race.
The Yankees beat Blue Jays 9-3 and boosted their lead back to 3½. Oakland lost and Seattle was off, so the wild card lead is 1 game... Lowe/Moss at 7:05.