Foulke had nothing -- absolutely nothing -- and he knew it.
Terry Francona played it right pretty much all night, though he did have some luck. He stayed with Wade Miller through a horrific first inning (and a fairly crappy third), squeezing 121 pitches out of him in six innings. Jeremi Gonzalez came in and got two men out in the seventh, then John Halama got the third. On the offensive side, Manny Ramirez's bomb to dead center in the top of the eighth gave the Sox a 5-3 lead. Mike Timlin gave one run back in the eighth, before Alan Embree (with the tying run on third) shut the door.
In the ninth, Francona pulled Embree and went with Keith Foulke. Because he's the "closer" -- that's what you do. However, Francona did have Mike Myers warming up as Foulke began the inning. If Foulke got into trouble, would Tito actually pull him and have Myers face (perhaps) Hank Blalock, the inning's fourth hitter?
Foulke had nothing on his pitches, and he was throwing them right over the plate. He got Dave Dellucci to foul out to third, but then gave up a triple to Michael Young and a double to Mark Teixeira. (I wish Jay Payton (instead of Trot Nixon) had been playing right field in the ninth. He might have been able to catch Teixeira's double.) Tie game, winning run on second.
Myers for Blalock? Nope. (So why did Tito have him warming -- just for show?) I wish he had brought him in. I have a hunch he wanted to, but may have not wanted to get second-guessed for removing his closer, no matter how badly he had pitched.
Blalock (0-for-11 against Foulke) walked on a full count. Was Foulke pitching around him, hoping to set up a DP with the free-swinging Alfonso Soriano up next? I have no idea, but the idea of BBI-ing Blalock did occur to me.
Soriano fell behind 0-and-2 before Foulke hit him in the left shoulder blade. That loaded the bases and pushed the winning run to third. Foulke then left a BP fastball out over the plate and Kevin Mench pounded it to left to win the game.
Foulke's body language after Young's triple -- and continuing throughout the inning -- practically screamed no confidence. He knew he had nothing and he knew he was going to blow the game. Let's get this over with.
Something has to do done. And I think something will be done. Tonight has to be the last straw.
Timlin is the logical man to close, but he hasn't exactly been lights out either (though he has been better when starting an inning). Gonzalez looked sharp and could be used to set-up. There has been talk of Arroyo moving into the closer's spot when Schilling returns, but it's hard to gauge how much the front office is talking about it. Those are the in-house possibilities. There are also potential trades, etc.
Honestly, I have no answer. I'd switch Foulke and Timlin right now, maybe also try Gonzalez in Timlin's old spot. But whatever happens, until Foulke gets his stuff together -- whether through pitching in lower-leverage situations or taking a stint on the DL (knee trouble?) -- he cannot be allowed to throw any more games away. And with his confidence at what must be an all-time low, that is almost assured if Francona keeps him in his present spot.
And so to bed.