Friday, October 25, 2013

A Simple Twise of Fate: A Fleeting Lapse in Judgment and the Sea Change of Red October

As the ball jostled in Jarrod Saltalamacchia's glove, he withdrew his attempt at picking off the runner stealing second base. It was a double steal. Jon Jay took second and Pete Kozma took third. In an instant, the double-play chance was gone. Kozma darted home following a Matt Carpenter sacrifice fly to left. Johnny Gomes made the catch and threw a dart toward home plate. Saltalamacchia lunged for the ball, with hope he could swing around and tag the sliding Kozma. The ball dribbled away. Pitcher Craig Breslow fielded the ball and whipped it to third as Jay was sliding. The throw was out of shortstop Stephen Drew's reach and sailed into the crowd. With two out in the seventh inning, Jay took home on Breslow's error. The St. Louis Cardinals now had a lead to which they would not relent, and wiped away the drubbing of game one.

An inning earlier, the Cardinals led. Michael Wacha was pitchig like he had throughout his Major League career. Though his life in 'the show' has only been a few months, the twenty-two year old Wacha had been just shy of unhittable. Then in the bottom of the sixth, he received a cold welcome from David Ortiz. With Dustin Pedroia on first, Ortiz annihilated Wacha's changeup over the reach of the 'green monster' in left. Boston could feel a two game lead. Their hero had just vanquished the rookie dragon. All momentum was in the possession of the Red Sox. Wacha finished the inning, but his night was over. His only hope was for his teammates to find a way to crawl back into the series.

If there is cause for belief in the absence of momentum in baseball, the top of the seventh inning Thursday night was just that. As Breslow took a chance and tried to make a play to end the inning, he in turn gave St. Louis the lead. Moments prior, Saltalamacchia's arrival at the conclusion not to throw to second may have prevented a run had his throw been errant. No matter the catcher's decision, the runs scored. The Cardinals tacked on an insurance run. It was an inning of infamy for Boston. Though it does not have the apocalyptic feel of Bill Buckner's passed grounder, which happens to be twenty-seven years ago today, the moment surely did conjure a few memories of past Red Sox failures.

After Wednesday night's game, the Cardinals were deflated. Then they woke up Thursday with a whole new chance to take back the series. Losers will always dwell on their past transgressions. Champions tend to learn from their falterings and become stronger having known the pain of loss. In game two, Boston fell to the same hand that brought them victory in recent days. Baseball is cruel that way.

The series now turns to St. Louis, where the last weekend of the baseball season will commence. Knotted at one game apiece, the 2013 World Series has now become a best-of-five.

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