David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991. Show More
BOSTON - There were two kinds of Idiots on display Thursday night at Fenway Park.
The beloved 2004 version, featuring Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Trot Nixon, got the band back together to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 2.
Then we had the ones dressed in Red Sox uniforms during a comical seventh-inning circus act that ruined another show-stopping home run by David Ortiz.
For the sake of argument, let's put aside Craig Breslow's Yale degree in molecular biophysics. Referring to the so-called Smartest Man in Baseball as an "idiot" may be a stretch inside a laboratory. But between the white lines, he goofed big time, and with the help of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes, what easily could have been a 2-0 lead in this series was kicked away.
In the sixth, Ortiz did the Big Papi thing by launching Michael Wacha's changeup, on a 3-and-2 count, into the front row of the Monster seats.
It was all going according to the usual Fenway script. Ortiz popped out of the dugout for his curtain call, and if nothing else, the Red Sox bullpen knew how to fiercely protect a 2-1 lead for the next nine outs.
Once again, they were following the same formula that got them this far. Wear out the opposing pitcher -- be it Price, Scherzer or Verlander -- grab a lead, then squeeze any lingering hope from the lineup like a tube of toothpaste in the late innings.
"They play the game like a wolfpack," Martinez said Thursday, when Fenway still was basking in the Game 1 afterglow. "That's how I describe the whole team -- like a wolfpack. They draw a plan to kill and to feed everybody. A little baby animal that's hurt or something like that. The easiest catch."
Everyone laughed listening to Pedro before Game 2. And the Cardinals, who looked as nervous as squirrels crossing the street during Wednesday's 8-1 rout, definitely appeared wounded. But that all changed in the seventh-inning chaos, when the Red Sox committed a pair of errors on one play that spun around the score and pointed them toward a head-scratching 4-2 loss.
"It was uncharacteristic of the way I think we've taken care of the baseball this year," Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Red Sox ranked fifth in the American League with 80 errors during the regular season, but the baseball found the wrong people in the seventh. John Lackey was pulled with one out after allowing a walk and single, and Breslow's problems were compounded when the Cardinals executed a double steal.
After a walk to No. 9 hitter Daniel Descalso loaded the bases, Matt Carpenter ripped a relatively shallow line drive to charging leftfielder Gomes, who caught it on the fly and had a decent shot to get Pete Kozma sprinting home. But that's when the game unraveled for the Sox.
Gomes threw wide to the plate and Saltalamacchia failed to grab the ball before attempting the sweep tag. Breslow, who was backing up the play, scooped up the ball but fired a wild throw toward third base that skipped into the photographers' well. That allowed Jon Jay to score and Descalso to advance to third, setting up Carlos Beltran's single for the 4-2 lead.
"It's baseball," Stephen Drew said. "Strange things are going to happen. But this team is very good about not dwelling on it."
The Sox need only look at the Cardinals, who couldn't catch or throw in Game 1 and still managed to tie the series. "There's nothing you can do about it," Ortiz said. "It's part of the game. We've got to go out there and play better than what we did."
The Idiots' shtick may have worked in 2004, but the Red Sox are going to have to tighten things up to bring home another title in 2013.