October 2, 2003

0-2. It's tough to blame this one on Forrest Little. The Red Sox were nine dead men walking this afternoon and Oakland rolled to a 5-1 win. Game 3 will be in Fenway on Saturday (Lowe/Lilly). The A's scored 5 runs in an ugly second inning today: with one out, Guillen walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, Hernandez singled to right (1-0), Dye was grazed by a pitch, Byrnes doubled over Manny's head in left (3-0), Ellis walked, Durazo grounded out 3-1, and Chavez reached on a 2-base throwing error from Walker (5-0).

Boston got a run back in the third with doubles from Mirabelli and Damon., but after a walk to Nomar put runners at first and second with 1 out, both Walker and Ramirez hacked at the first pitch, snuffing out the rally. After that, the Red Sox offense was next to invisible. Zito rediscovered his curve ball and struck out the side in the 4th and the first two men in the 5th. Singles by Damon and Nomar put two on with two outs that inning, but Walker tapped back to the mound to end it. The only other Boston baserunners were Ramirez's single leading off the 6th and Mueller's 2-out single in the 9th off Foulke. Wakefield also settled down after the 2nd, allowing only 3 more baserunners through the 6th inning.

Walker had a great Game 1, but against a lefty like Zito, he has no business batting third. Keep him in the lineup if you must, but bring Mueller up and drop Todd to 8th or 9th. ... Arroyo was warming in the bullpen twice (in the 2nd and 4th), but did not pitch. Embree and Williamson each threw an inning of relief. ... Manny was 1-3 with a walk and looked better at the plate. Ortiz and Millar were overmatched all day (they were both 0-4 with 2 K) and both Kapler and Mirabelli struck out twice in three trips.

The Red Sox will hit in Fenway and the team went through this exact experience with Cleveland in 1999 (in fact, in Game 1 that year, Pedro started and Lowe was tagged with the loss). And while I don't expect a 23-7 fireworks display, I do expect the Sox to battle. They've been through too much to have this season end with a whimper. If they can take two games this weekend, I like Pedro's chances in Game 5. ... I'm not a religious man, but I have faith.

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