The Yostest With The Mostest

Managers get a lot of criticism, the tone of that criticism is becoming tiresome to me (RLRS Photo).

Managers get a lot of criticism, the tone of that criticism is becoming tiresome to me (RLRS Photo).

In just a few hours Ned Yost‘s American League champions will take the field with a two games to one lead over the San Francisco Giants.  This has been confounding for more than a few people as Yost is perceived as a pretty poor manager.

Frankly, Yost IS a pretty poor manager in my opinion.  I am finding the reflexive criticism of him becoming rather tiresome.  It seems that even when he is given credit it is in a backhanded way along the lines of “hey, he did not screw up.”  I think this is a bit unfair for a couple of reasons.

First is the fact that, well he is managing the team that currently leads the World Series.  It is generally accepted that results based analysis is faulty.  This is a management concept that goes beyond baseball (I remember learning it in business school far more years ago than I care to admit) so it is not a bad concept.  However, the job of the manager is to get results, and when he is getting those results he deserves some credit.

Sometimes there is a smarter guy in the room (RLRS Photo).

Sometimes there is a smarter guy in the room (RLRS Photo).

That brings me to my second issue.  I think there is a fairly sizable set of analysts out there who take an approach that is every bit as arrogant as the traditional media that the stat community railed against for so long.  All too often managers are criticized because they made a move that conflicted with the numbers and there is no way they could have known information that would have made the numbers null and void.

This to me is mistaken analysis.  Sometimes we are not the smartest guy in the room.  Sometimes just because something has not been measured does not mean it is measurable and sometimes just because something has been measured does not mean it has been measured correctly.

My point is not that Ned Yost is a good manager.  I do not think he is.  I am finding the repetitiveness in the criticism and the way it is being handled to be very much as predictable and uninformative as some of the lauding of guys like Derek Jeter or David Eckstein from more traditional outposts.

Just Say No Joe

John Farrell collects his World Series ring (RLRS Photo)...

John Farrell collects his World Series ring (RLRS Photo)…

It was reported on Friday that Joe Maddon had opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Pretty much every team in baseball other than maybe the Giants was immediately linked to the greatest manager in Rays history (tough task there).

Chad Finn weighed in during his Friday chat about Maddon as a possible replacement for John Farrell saying

Question for you: Would you dump John Farrell and hire Joe Maddon, who left the Rays today? I *probably* wouldn’t — but I’d definitely give it some serious consideration.

While I can certainly understand the interest in Maddon who is a terrific manager I think he would be a bad fit here.

Bostonians, and New Englanders in general, tend to the puritanical.  As much as we enjoy the occasional bit of fun we want our leaders to be straight-laced.  Maddon’s antics I think would create more than a few Bobby Valentine type situations with the media and cause unnecessary distraction.

Joe  Maddon does not (RLRS Photo).

Joe Maddon does not (RLRS Photo).

If you look back at that last quarter of a century the local teams have had remarkable success.  If you look at the managers/coaches who flopped they all tended to the sort of wackiness that Maddon has.  Guys like Bobby Valentine, Mike Keenan, Pete Carroll and Rick Pitino all brought a very different vibe.  Meanwhile, success has followed guys like Bill Bellichick, Terry Francona and Doc Rivers.  The closest we have had to a success in the wacky vein has been Jimy Williams.

Maddon is an outstanding manager.  Management, in baseball as in the real world, is all about the right fit.  I think Maddon is the wrong fit for the Boston Red Sox.

 

This Day In 2004 – Bloody Sock Redux

First Pitch WS Game Two Pesky, Dimaggio, DoerrCardinals 2 – Red Sox 6 (Red Sox lead two games to none)
WP: Curt Schilling, LP: Matt Morris

On October 24 I attended my final game at Fenway in 2004.  It was the coldest I can ever remember being at Fenway and required an emergency purchase of an AL Champions sweatshirt ($85 out the door) prior to the game.

Keith Foulke would have been a worthy MVP choice in 2004's WS (RLRS Photo).

Keith Foulke would have been a worthy MVP choice in 2004′s WS (RLRS Photo).

The pregame stuff was fun.  The Standells rolled out (literally on the back of a flatbed) and banged out “Dirty Water.”  The first pitch came from legendary teammates Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr while James Taylor knocked out the anthem.  I like JT a lot but I am not a fan of his version of the anthem.  It is not bad or disrespectful but he is so distinctive that it sounds not like the national anthem but just another James Taylor song.

The game itself was an underwhelming affair.  The Sox jumped out when Jason Varitek bashed one off the wall in the triangle for a two run triple.  Like Mark Bellhorn the night before Varitek had to drive the ball through a howling wind for the hit.

Schilling was not as sharp as in his memorable performance the week before in the Bronx.  The Cardinals hit a few balls that may have gotten out or grabbed some wall if not for the wind and cold but it worked well enough for the Sox.  It is funny how the mind works though.  My recollection is that the Cards hit a lot more long fly balls than they did.  BBRef and my scorebook agree that they hit just five fly balls to the outfield.  The ball Scott Rolen hit in the second is the one that is in my memory as having gotten out on a warmer night.

The Sox celebrated a sixth straight victory, their last at Fenway in 2004 (RLRS Photo).

The Sox celebrated a sixth straight victory, their last at Fenway in 2004 (RLRS Photo).

The Sox were in full clutch mode with all six runs coming with two outs.  Varitek’s triple, then a two run double by Bellhorn in the fourth and finally a two run wall-ball single by Orlando Cabrera in the sixth.

Defensively the Sox were still a disaster committing four errors for the second consecutive nights.  Incredibly the Cardinals only managed one unearned run and when Keith Foulke got Mike Matheny to ground to short the Sox had a two game lead.

At this point as we celebrated our victory I turned to the guy who has the season tickets next to me and said “nothing personal, but I hope I don’t see you until next April.”

This Day In 2004 – One Down, Three To Go

The teams and the pomp and circumstance were in full force for Game One (RLRS Photo).

The teams and the pomp and circumstance were in full force for Game One (RLRS Photo).

Cardinals 9 – Red Sox 11 (Red Sox lead series one game to none).
WP: Keith Foulke, LP: Julian Tavarez

I love the pomp and circumstance.  I will never forget Carl Beane introducing the Cardinals then pausing and saying “and now, the team that defied history by coming back from 3 games to none down…” as he began his introduction of the Sox.  Just a bit over a month after his son Mike passed away Captain Carl Yastrzemski was on hand to throw out the first pitch.  Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler handled the anthem duties and at 8:09 PM Tim Wakefield pitched to Edgar Renteria.  I assume it is not that unusual for a player to have seen both the first and last pitch of a World Series but I do not know.

For me the day started with a  collossal blunder.  I woke up and drove to the bank to hit an ATM. I inadvertently left my World Series ticket on my kitchen table…with my door wide open.  That’s right, for about 20 minutes the morning of game one there was a ticket that I would later be told was worth about $1,200 available to anyone passing my house.

Oops.

On the plus side I got good news on that journey to the bank.  WEEI reported that Cardinal lefty Steve Kline had been left off the roster due to injury.  It is funny the things that give you confidence or despair as a fan and this gave me great confidence.  The Cardinal rotation did not frighten me but the bullpen and Tony LaRussa’s management of it did.  Without Kline TLR had just Ray King as a lefty out of the pen and instead of being able to mix and match against David Ortiz as the game and series went on he was going to have to pick his spots.

Tim Wakefield got the 2004 World Series rolling (RLRS Photo).

Tim Wakefield got the 2004 World Series rolling (RLRS Photo).

The game was wild.  On a cold (and I mean COLD) night at Fenway the Sox jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first.  Ortiz slammed a titanic homer down the right field line and despite Larry Walker giving lie to the idea that World Series experience was necessary the Sox had a 7-2 lead.

That is when Wake started struggling with his control.  As cold as it was it was fairly inevitable that all that standing around would cost the Sox and when Kevin Millar threw the ball away the Cards were back in it with youngster Dan Haren giving them crucial work out of the bullpen.

In the seventh Ortiz and King faced off for the first time.  With the infield pulled in after Manny Ramirez had reestablished the lead Big Papi sizzled one that almost killed poor Tony Womack at second base for a 9-7 lead.

The Sox congratulated each other and the scoreboard told us what we needed to know (RLRS Photo).

The Sox congratulated each other and the scoreboard told us what we needed to know (RLRS Photo).

The Sox never let the Redbirds take the lead but they did let them tie it.  Manny played left field like the anti-Yaz and the game was tied at nine heading to the bottom of the eighth.  With four errors to their “credit” the Sox were hopeful of stealing a game and Renteria, foreshadowing his 2005 defensive performance in Boston, booted Jason Varitek‘s grounder bringing Mark Bellhorn to the plate.

With the wind howling from center to right I do not know how Bellhorn did what he did.  He absolutely crushed one down the right field line and from my seat you could see the ball getting pushed.  The Gods willed it fair and when it slammed against the Pesky Pole the Sox had an 11-9 lead.  Foulke fanned Roger Cedeno on a change up to end it and the Sox had their one game to none lead.

Arizona Update

Rusney CastilloWhile the big Red Sox have stopped playing there are still some minor leaguers at work in the Arizona Fall League.  The Surprise Saguaros are 6-7 so far with various Sox making various contributions.  Let’s catch up with the position players;

Rusney Castillo – The big thing for Castillo is to get at bats and a bruised thumb has slowed that down.  Various reports have suggested that between 200-250 plate appearances is the goal through his combined efforts and so far he is at 125 with his 36 PA at Surprise.  He will head to Puerto Rico for some additional game time and the injury does not sound meaningful enough to make the PA goal difficult to reach.

Deven Marrero – In eight games Marrero has fanned seven times but walked eight.  That is somewhat encouraging as the big thing with him is just not being overmatched.  He still is hitting for virtually no power which is of concern but he is not being overmatched.

Sean Coyle - My concerns about Coyle being off kilter against superior pitching are starting to come to fruition.  In 21 at bats he has fanned 9 times already while walking four.  While the numbers are not awful (.231/.385/.381) that is a big K number.  He remains a work in progress that I have to admit to being skeptical of.

Trade Target – Giancarlo Stanton

That swing, 81 nights a year at Fenway? Yes please (RLRS Photo).

That swing, 81 nights a year at Fenway? Yes please (RLRS Photo).

As the off-season unfolds the Red Sox are likely to be active in the trade market.  Today we take a look at one of the trade targets by considering Miami Marlin outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

2015 Opening Day Age - 25 years, 5 months.

Contract Status - Arbitration eligible, free agent eligible after 2016 season.

What Does He Do?

Stanton is a right-handed hitting outfielder whose game is largely built around prodigious power.  Stanton would not look out of place in the middle of the silly ball era.

Is He Available?

That is kind of debatable.  If this were any team other than the Marlins we probably would not be considering this.  Stanton is one of the genuine stars of the game and all the noise out of Miami has been that they want to re-sign him.

Of course this IS the Marlins and there is not a lot of evidence that they are going to follow through on this.  Even when the Marlins have made moves for big name, big money players (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Delgado, Mike Piazza) those players have not stuck around long.  Fairly or not, even with a contract, trade rumors will likely dog Stanton as long as he is a Marlin.

The Marlins have some history with trading big right-handed sluggers (RLRS Photo).

The Marlins have some history with trading big right-handed sluggers (RLRS Photo).

What Is The Cost?

High.  Very high.  If you look back at the history of guys like Stanton being dealt (Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira) you generally see a package roughly approximating;

2 top 30 prospects

another top 100 prospect

someone else

Inevitably anyone on the internet proposing a trade hears two responses.  Either Red Sox fans will say “what? That is outrageous!  The Marlins won’t do that, send them Yoenis Cespedes because he’s Cuban and Matt Barnes, that’s a fair deal” while Red Sox haters will say “this is ridiculous, the Marlins should not do it without at least Henry Owens, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts involved and then the Sox should figure out 2 or 3 others to be involved.”

It really gets boring for me.  Just as an example in a Baseball Think Factory thread this week there was a discussion of a Brett Gardner for Jason Heyward trade.  A Brave fan described it as laughable saying Gardner was not near enough return and a Yankee fan also used the word “laughable” saying Hayward was not enough for Gardner.

End of rant.

Do The Sox Have What It Takes?

Yup.  The aforementioned Betts, Bogaerts and Owens plus Blake Swihart are all top 50 prospects or equivalent in the case of Mookie and Xander while the Sox deep system certainly can fill out the other pieces.

Would He Make The Sox Better?

Absolutely.  While the Sox have a glut of outfielders Stanton would clearly be the best of the lot.  He would bring some much needed power to the lineup and serve as an heir apparent to David Ortiz as the scary monster the Sox need.

The Marlins do not exactly play a lot of big games so it is hard to get a read on Stanton in such situations.  Still with the Marlins flittering on the edge of the Wild Card chase in 2014 he hit .274/.396/.586 after the All Star break.  While he is typically better against lefties than righties he is a great hitter against both handed pitchers and would probably smack Pat Venditte around too.

Simply put there is not a team in baseball that would not benefit from Giancarlo Stanton.

Is There Anything To Worry About?

Stanton comes with a bit of an old player profile.  In four seasons he has played more than 140 games twice due to injury.  Defensively it is unclear how he rates.  Baseball Reference does not seem to like him while his UZR is generally competent.  My guess is if the Sox landed him it would be similar to Manny Ramirez where he moved to left field sooner than later.  That is a non-issue with the bat though.

The bigger concern is a September beaning that ended his 2014 season.  The history of Major League Baseball is littered with players who took such a blow and never recovered.  Tony Conigliaro is the local example but players of abilities like Paul Blair and Dickie Thon similarly struggled.

Stanton’s public behavior since the beaning has been that of someone handling things well.  He has been self-deprecating and relaxed through his Twitter feed.  It is not much but it is all we really have to go on.  Until he swings a bat in anger we will not know if he is healed physically and mentally.

What Would You Offer?

If I were the Sox I would put everyone but Bogaerts and Betts on the table.  If you have followed this blog this year you know what I think of Swihart but I would put him and Owens on top of a deal and see what it took to fill it in.  If the Marlins are insistent upon Betts or Bogaerts I would not necessarily tell them to pound sand but the structure of the deal would change.

The one caveat for the Sox is that they should get Stanton signed long term before making a deal just as they did with Adrian Gonzalez.  The Sox won a World Series in the third year after acquiring Gonzalez so that worked out great!

Conclusion

I think this is something that has a real chance.  The Sox have the prospects to put together a package, the financial resources and will to afford him and an obvious need for him.  I think we will hear a lot about Stanton re-upping in Miami which will be not unlike the talk around Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers eleven years ago but ultimately a deal will happen.

With two years of team control left if the Marlins want to get the best package for him this is the time.  The success of the Kansas City Royals may cause teams like the Marlins to be more conservative trading star assets which is good for baseball and not so good for Red Sox fans who want Stanton or his ilk.

This Day In 2004 – YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!

Daily NewsOn Mickey Mantle‘s birthday the Yankees rolled out all the stops.  1978 hero Bucky Dent threw out the first pitch and the crowd was…well let’s face facts they were a bit tense.  The intensity of the previous night had given way to a level of tension.  For once it was the Yankee Stadium crowd looking tense and just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Illness notwithstanding it never occurred to me to change things up so I went to my friends’ house to watch the game.

Right away it went well.  Johnny Damon singled and stole second while Mark Bellhorn struck out.  Manny Ramirez singled and Dale Sveum foolishly sent him where he was gunned down.  The good cheer in the Bronx lasted one pitch as David Ortiz slammed a line drive over the right field fence for a 2-0 lead.  We remember so many of his walk-offs but this was a genuinely clutch homer picking up his club when they needed it.

Derek Lowe immediately answered questions with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.  After the Red Sox loaded the bases Kevin Brown was hooted off the mound and Javier Vazquez was summoned.  A year before Mike Mussina had entered a very similar spot and escaped unscathed with Damon hitting into a double play.  Vazquez threw one pitch to Damon and Johnny sent it over the wall in the corner for a grand slam and a 6-0 lead.

Javier  Vazquez Globe

OK, that shot is actually after Damon’s two run homer in the fourth but who cares.  After four the Sox had an 8-1 lead and things were going swimmingly.  When Damon launched his fourth inning shot Joe Buck screamed “and Johnny Damon is going off!” and Fox cut to a shot of a young girl, Red Sox fan, about 15 with braces and popcorn standing and screaming in a sea of Yankee fans.  I don’t know why but that girl is always in my mind.  Just such a great visual.

Terry Francona made one questionable decision in this game and that was the call to use Pedro Martinez in the seventh.  Pedro threw gas that night but the Yankees often sent it out as fast as it came in but Trot Nixon tracked down Miguel Cairo‘s liner that would have made things very interesting indeed and the Sox ended the seventh up 8-3.

My theory on Pedro pitching that inning is this;

The plan was to start Lowe, go to Curt Leskanic or Mike Myers if/when he got into trouble then go to Tim Wakefield.  That would set up Pedro around the 6th/7th inning then turn the game over to Alan Embree and/or Mike Timlin to close it out.  With Keith Foulke having thrown 100 pitches in three days and looking shaky the night before I think the Sox wanted to stay away from him.

Derek  LoweInstead Derek Lowe was BRILLIANT.  You cannot say that enough.  I think Tito and pitching coach Dave Wallace went into the game with a lot of plans but none of them included 69 pitches, 1 hit and an 8-1 lead after six innings and really you cannot blame them for that (side note: I love that I don’t have to look up the 69 pitches, I just know it).  So Tito sort of said “well, Lowe did what he and Wake were supposed to do so this is Pedro’s spot.”

If that seems like a bit of Ned Yost-ism that is fair enough.  I am not arguing this was right or wrong, just what I think happened.

The other aspect was that this pushed Pedro back to game three of the World Series.  Again I think there was some logic at work.  With his ankle there was no way to have Curt Schilling pitch in St. Louis so he was locked into a game two (and subsequent game six if necessary) start.  I suspect Francona then decided that Pedro in game three and ready for a game seven was enticing.

Baseball people also are often enthused at the idea of a knuckleballer messing up an opponent’s swing.  Starting Wake in game one would, in theory, have the effect of getting the Cards or Astros off their game.  I would not say that that particular bit of wisdom worked here but the Cardinals certainly did nothing offensively after game one.

Anyway, so here we were.  8-3, top of the 8th and the Stadium crowd into it.  Timlin and Embree were rested thanks to Bronson Arroyo‘s effort the night before but the Sox still had six outs to get.

Up strode Bullhorn and he rattled one off the foul pole for a 9-3 lead.  At that moment the life went out of the Stadium.  At that moment I sat back for the first time in about four days, confident it was over.  Timlin was not sharp atypically going 3-0 on Derek Jeter but came back to get him to ground out thanks to a great scoop by Doug Mientkiewicz with then going 3-1 on Alex Rodriguez before striking him out and A-Rod being hooted off the field.

In the ninth the Sox plated another run and Fox began cutting around to various Yankee fans looking miserable.

I loved it.

The Yankees battled in the ninth. A Hideki Matsui single, a ground out by Bernie Williams, a pop up by Jorge Posada and a walk to Kenny Lofton ended Timlin’s night.  Embree came on and threw two pitches, Ruben Sierra hit the second one to Pokey Reese and just after midnight on October 21, 2004 the Red Sox had, in Joe Castiglione’s words, pulled the greatest comeback in sports history.

Bedlam followed, I hugged my friend and his wife, phones rang throughout New England and downtown Boston exploded into joy.  In Yankee Stadium the Yanks tastefully played the Sinatra version of “New York, New York” and left the lights on so Red Sox fans could enjoy the moment.  Wake stood on the mound and had champagne dumped on his head by Timlin.  Trot ran out to the bleachers with the trophy to salute the Sox fans there.

My friend and I then met my parents and his parents at a mutual friend’s home bar for champagne and cigars.  Personally I got to sleep about 2:30, the next day may not have been the most productive day I have ever spent in the office.

Elsewhere Jim Edmonds hit a walk off homer to set up a seventh game in the NL for the right to meet the Sox.  There would be more baseball to be played at Fenway Park in 2004.

Globe

Herald

Globe

****************************************************

The night was not without sadness.  The joy in downtown Boston turned ugly as joyous fans were joined by idiots.  Some cars were flipped and things got out of control.  Boston police were deployed and while using rubber bullets to try and disperse the crowd tragically struck and killed college student Victoria Snelgrove.

It has been ten years for this family and while nothing we do can ever bring her back and they likely will never read this page it deserves to be said that this young lady is still remembered.  Her smile would be on the video board at Fenway a few days later as she was remembered by the Sox and the city of Boston.  Having been in downtown Boston for seven World Series games since and in the city when the Sox won it all both the following week and last year things have been well organized.  Hopefully her legacy is the safety of millions of others since.

This Day in 2004 – The Bloody Sock

Just a hunch, I know who it was on October 19, 2004 (RLRS Photo).

Just a hunch, I know who it was on October 19, 2004 (RLRS Photo).

Red Sox 4 – Yankees 2 (series tied 3-3)

WP: Curt Schilling, LP: Jon Lieber, SV: Keith Foulke

Despite the crazy games the previous two days it is likely this game is the best remembered. This was baseball on its biggest stage making some noise. With the Yankee Stadium crowd absolutely electrified Curt Schilling took the mound with blood oozing through his sock and baseball fans wondering what he had in the tank. As it turned out he had quite a bit.

There was some chatter prior to the game about whether it would be dirty pool for the Yankees to bunt. I am more picky about “unwritten rules” type stuff than most internet driven fans but this is foolish. This is a playoff game with a trip to the World Series on the line, anything goes. The Yankees should not have gone crazy but how guys like Derek Jeter and especially someone like Miguel Cairo did not put one down was nuts.

After three shutout innings on both sides of the ball the Sox were facing a two out, bases empty situation. Kevin Millar doubled and after a wild pitch Jason Varitek singled him home. A single by Orlando Cabrera brought Mark Bellhorn to the plate. Bellhorn smoked one down the line that was originally ruled to have hit the wall for a two run double.

But not so fast. After Dale Sveum called the umpires on it the umps got together as a group. I really wish they would do this more often, a lot of the desire for instant replay would have been muted if umpires would use some common sense but Joe West’s crew finally got it right and credited Bellhorn with a homer.

Schilling was genuinely outstanding on this night. The Yankees did not fuss him much and a seventh Bernie Williams homer was the only blemish. As the eighth inning dawned the Sox had a 4-1 lead and turned things over to Bronson Arroyo. A Cairo double and an RBI single by Jeter brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run.

A-Rod took a close 1-2 pitch to run the count to 2-2. You wonder how things might have changed in the public perception if he had simply been called out on strikes. Instead he hit a dribbler up the first base line that Arroyo and Doug Mientkiewicz converged on. Arroyo picked it up and realized no one was at the bag and went to tag Rodriguez. Suddenly the ball was out of Arroyo’s glove rolling down the right field line. Jeter raced around to score and Rodriguez was at second.

Terry Francona would later say the only reason he waited to come on the field was for the play to finish but that he saw it right away. Again the umps came together and again they got it right correctly ruling that Rodriguez and willfully interfered. A year before a similar play was engaged in by Atlanta’s Robert Fick who slapped Eric Karros‘ arm in an attempt to force the first baseman to miss the ball. I do not know if it mattered but the right field umpire in New York was Jeff Kellogg who was the third base umpire in the game with Fick.

In all the hubbub A-Rod does not get criticized for what a dumb play this was. Down by two runs in the 8th getting just a single run has great value. Because of his interference Jeter had to return to first. If Rodriguez had simply been tagged out Jeter would have been in scoring position for Gary Sheffield. Instead the pressure was taken off Arroyo a bit and with the boos raining down the Iron Sheff fouled out.

I was sick as a dog at this point. The previous couple of days had taken their toll on me but I had to pick up my friend at the airport that evening. We got back to his house for the second inning then sat and watched. His wife later would tease me that I was a little too wrapped up in the game, practically in the fetal position for the ninth. Foulke had NOTHING on the ball. He was running on fumes and I will always believe his career was adversely affected by this three day stretch. Two walks put runners on first and second with two outs for Tony Clark. One swing of the bat could send the Yankees to the World Series.

Ball one.

Ball two.

Johnny from Burger King was probably pretty pumped ten years ago (MLB.com photo)

Johnny from Burger King was probably pretty pumped ten years ago (MLB.com photo)

I have long believed that hitters need to be more aggressive in hitter’s counts and this was a great example. I do not know what Clark thought he was getting on 2-0 but he got a fastball right down the pipe. Mercifully he watched it go by for strike one. Finally the count went to 3-2 and Foulke wound up and threw one last fastball that Clark swung through for strike three.

That at bat was the single most intense at bat I have ever experienced as a fan. It was grueling but oh so worth it in the end.

After surrendering 32 runs while losing the first three games of the series the Sox were somehow going back to their hotel and getting ready to play a seventh game.