You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that Old Lone Ranger…
And you don’t intentionally walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Big Papi.
The first three lines are from Jim Croce’s 1970’s hit song telling us how to stay clear of trouble. Apparently Texas manager Ron Washington has never heard it. What was he thinking? What made him tempt fate in the ninth inning of last night's game?
But let’s backtrack for a moment.
I didn’t turn on the game last night until the top of the ninth. Andrew Bailey wriggled out of a minor jam, and the Red Sox, who had trailed 3-0 earlier in the game, were coming to bat with the score tied.
Michael Kirkman came on for the Rangers, and a quick glance at his stats caused me to salivate. Here’s a guy pitching for one of the best teams in the baseball, and he’s sporting an ERA above 6. Opponents are hitting well over .300 when he's on the mound.
This is the guy who’ been chosen by his manager to hold down the fort at the end of a tight game? Well, maybe there’s something special about him that the stats don’t tell.
I don't know Michael Kirkman. He is likely to be a fine person, a good son, a loving husband. But as a pitcher, apparently stats don’t lie. He threw all of six pitches, and it was the most memorable six pitch performance I have ever seen.
First batter up was Jonny Gomes. He’s a great clubhouse guy, a career .242 hitter, but this year just struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line. It was encouraging that he had already gotten three hits on the night, but it was a lot to expect anything more from him in this game.
The first pitch from Kirkman came back just as fast as it came in. Hit number four for Gomes was a shot to left, and he sailed into second with arms raised. But the Sox had already left seven runners in scoring position, so caution was still warranted even with the dangerous Dustin Pedroia coming to bat.
Then came Ron Washingon’s brave, but foolish, decision: Let’s walk Pedroia intentionally and take our chances with David Ortiz.
Yes, I know that Pedroia is a dangerous clutch hitter. Yes, I know that it gives you a lefty on lefty matchup. And yes, I know that this sets up the double play. But still, the next guy up is David Ortiz.
The next four pitches were all soft-tossed far wide and Pedroia trotted to first.
Ortiz came to the plate looking pretty calm, but I am positive that he was seething at Washington’s insult to his manhood.
There was no wait him out period. There was no look at what his stuff is like. The very next pitch, pitch number six came off Ortiz’s bat and never seemed to rise more than 10 feet off the ground. It was the classic frozen rope. It never hit the ground till it had cleared the low fence in right for a walk-off three run homer.
Final score: Sox 6, Rangers 3.
Red Sox Nation went out into the night to celebrate.
Ron Washington showered and left the ballpark as soon as he could. He was last seen spitting into the wind.