Then Pedroia walks after a gritty* ten pitch at bat. Now it's first and second, no one out, in the bottom of the eighth inning, with a two run lead. Joe Girardi went out and asked C.C. how he was feeling. C.C. waved him off and Joe went back to the dugout. Again, C.C. had been cruising. He's an ace. I have perhaps only the smallest of quibbles with this move.
But then he gave up a single to J.D. Drew. Now it's a 3-2 lead with the heart of the order coming up. C.C. is clearly tired. He's up near 120 pitches. It's unequivocally time to go to the bullpen. Joe Girardi agreed with me. And he summoned... Alfredo Aceves.
I just... I just don't know how else to put this: you must bring in your best relief pitcher. This is it. This is the game. This is without any reasonable doubt the most critical situation you will be facing in any of the next two or three games.
This is where I get fried by bullpen usage. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! You have the Death Star of baseball, Mariano Rivera, in your bullpen. He's like that guy from The Seventh Seal, only he doesn't fuck around with a game of chess before he separates your soul from your body. He is the ultimate weapon in the baseball universe. USE HIM! USE HIM!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, USE HIM!!!
Last night, Mariano was well rested. He hadn't pitched in either of the series' first two games, games against the team you are battling for first place. Even if you don't want him to pitch two innings, you can't save him for the ninth. You can't save him for the bottom of the Red Sox' lineup with no one on base at the start of an inning. You do not have that luxury. Why?
Because if you don't go get him, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay could both single, snatching the lead from your grasp with the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball left unused for an entire three game series against your biggest rival with first place on the line. And this is exactly what happened.
I ask you, is there really more pressure pitching the ninth with a one run lead against Jason Varitek, Rocco Baldelli, and Nick Green than there is pitching the eighth with a one run lead with two and and no one out against Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, Mike Lowell, and David Ortiz? I cannot see how this could be the case. It would make next to no sense.
I don't have anything else to say. I am completely dumbfounded.
* Hi, Cous!