Saturday, April 28, 2007

F'd by Froemming

Just a rotten game all the way around for the Red Sox with the exception of the pitching which was, as it has been all year, pretty good. The staff held the Yankees to 3 runs in 8 innings of play, which will usually win you the game. Unfortunately, the Red Sox bats took the night off. They did get runners on base (12 all together) and even sprinkled in some hits here and there (7), but just were never able to put anything together....

Until the 8th inning.

Kyle Farnsworth came on to pitch for NY in the 8th, with the Yankees leading 3-0. The inning started off with Youkilis singling and then Ortiz walking. 1st and 2nd with zero outs and the heart of the order coming up. Then Manny struck out looking on a pitch that looked to be high (this would be the theme of the night) an JD Drew grounded into a force out at second. Just like that the Sox had 1st and 3rd with two down. Mike Lowell was up next. He fell behind in the count, but came back to bloop a single into right field for a hit and an RBI as Youkilis scored. 3-1, NY.

This is where it gets dicey. Coco Crisp came up. During the at-bat, Coco took five straight balls, and was called out on strikes after the fifth one. How in the world, you ask, is that possible? Well, I wish I had a good explanation, but I don't. Home plate umpire Bruce Froemming, who's strike zone was, to put it charitably, horrific all night, felt that three of the five pitches were strikes. In particular Froemming called Crisp out on three pitches that were progressively more outside, culminating in the third strike call where Yankees catcher Jorge Posada had to actually reach slightly into the right handed hitters batters box to catch the thing. Froemming called Crisp out and Crisp reacted as I think I probably would: by smashing his helmet into the ground and tossing his bat in disgust. Froemming, of course, threw him out of the game.

This series of terrible calls effectively took the bat out of Crisp's hands and killed the Red Sox rally. You never like to blame the result of the game on an umpiring decision. The game is too long and there are too many individual outcomes that shape the game for that to truly be the case.

However, in games between evenly matched teams, its a shame for the game to be altered by a series of bad calls, as was the case here. None of Fransworth's offerings to Crisp was in the strike zone, and Froemming never should have called any of them a strike. If Farnsworth continued to throw the ball to that spot, it should have resulted in Crisp walking, and the bases being loaded. Who knows what happens at that point. The Red Sox didn't play very inspiring baseball today, so its entirely possible that the next hitter would have grounded out, struck out, or what have you. But its incumbent upon the umpire to not alter the game, and to let it play itself out.

It was a shame that the lasting image of that game to me will be Froemming making some terrible calls.

AL East: The Blue Jays lost in extra innings today, so they remain 4.0 games behind Boston for the division lead. The Red Sox don't find out if they lose ground to the division until Baltimore wins or loses (they are currently tied with Cleveland 1-1 in the 2nd inning). With the win today, the Yankees snap their seven game losing streak, and move to 5.5 games behind Boston for the division lead. Tampa lost again today. They remain 5.5 games behind Boston as well.

Tomorrow: The Red Sox wrap up their 3 game series in the Bronx at 1:05pm. Julian Tavarez pitches the rubber match for Boston. He'll be opposed by Chien-Ming Wang.

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