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Red Sox Fight Inconsistency with Inconsistency; Lose


Editor’s Note:  It’s time for another guest post from That Balls Outta Here lead writer Justin Klugh.

I’m sorry, but isn’t this what you expect from a knuckleballer?  Isn’t the risk of dropping one in there the same as the pitch itself–hard to predict, harder to control?  I mean, look at the way he holds the ball.  It looks like it could sail up over the backstop or stop in mid air, turn around, and come straight back at his teeth.  It looks like he’s waiting to be corrected his Little League coach.  It does not look like the way a baseball was meant to be in a human being’s hand. […]

So it isn’t as shocking to me personally to discover that after an eight inning shut out of the 2009 National League champions, Tim Wakefield’s follow up is a 12-run trouncing at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.  I don’t know how you could ever call the guy “solid,” and I’m not saying this to purposefully arouse animosity, but to me, the phrase “solid” evokes images of somebody who can keep pitching reliably, effectively, and efficiently, even in an outing that may not go his way.  The very definition of a knuckler–that he throws only the knuckleball, the most erratic and mischievous pitch in the solar system–goes against the idea of “solid.” Tim Wakefield doesn’t even know where Tim Wakefield’s pitch is going to go next.  It’s got a mind of its own, and it’s lost it’s mind.

And, as a Phillies guy, I’m almost relieved to see that the problem wasn’t that we were torn apart limb from limb by a guy who just knew how to beat us, but more likely that a slump parasite had wormed its way into our guts and taken complete control of the situation on our end.

No offense.

But the Royals came into Fenway and slammed out 20 hits–20 hits, I said–the most they’ve ever had in Beantown. They made a little slice of history.  So, why are Sox able to take down Twins, Phils, and Rays yet falter so bewilderingly for the Royals?  Well, maybe because the Royals are apparently the best hitting team in the Majors. I know, I know.  I don’t get it.  But that sort of makes a little more sense in the context of Trey Hillman’s firing; apparently KC brass expected to win the Central this year, and when that was clearly not happening, they ditched him.  And here we are, with the Royals dousing the fiery-hot Sox in their own home, hitting grand slams, and winning games.  Sort of gives a minute amount of props to those front office folks in Kansas City.

Actually, both these teams struggle with consistency.  The Royals pop out three hits one game, then follow it with a record breaking night with the Monster watching.  The Red Sox go on a killing spree, then walk into their own backyard and shit the bed.  In fact, now that I think about it, if the problem is consistency, a knuckler should be the last guy out there.

Terry Francona had to dive into the bullpen, again, in the second straight performance of a starter who tore it up previously and then had a bafflingly awful game during this series (Perhaps you could hear my perplexed mutterings echo from yesterday’s post on Dice-K’s own little private train wreck).  Wakefield was apologetic of this notion, especially when utility IF/OF Bill Hall came into pitch.  Hall actually achieved more success than Wakefield, throwing a 1-2-3 inning.

And so, the ball goes to Clay Buchholz, who has been more of an ace than Josh Beckett thus far.  I would expect him to have a bit more luck against the Royals, as his solidarity is much more palpable than a Wakefield or Dice-K.  I’m not sure how many flaky pitchers you can drop in front of the Royals and expect to come out on top, so with Buccholz out there, and some decent run support (which has been consistent, it’s just tough to outrun Wakefield’s shittiness when he starts a patented crash and burn), the Sox could jumpstart a turnaround by the Royals and at least split the series.

Then again, when you look up from the batter’s box and see Zack Greinke staring back at you with even the slightest bit of offense behind him, anything’s possible.  Even losing at least 3/4 to the Royals.