He watched from the bowels of the stadium, his predecessor having been chewed up by the barbarians who called this place their sanctuary, ready to devour whatever lie in their path as thousands of the city’s blood-thirsty cheered them on. Instead of cowering though, he stepped to the arena's challenge and with a defiance rarely seen in the young warrior, he pounded on his chest to signal…
Sorry, had a Grantland Rice moment there. Here is perhaps a more effective lead: Check out David Pauley’s face last night upon the conclusion of Josh Beckett’s disastrous 1 1/3-inning pounding at Yankee Stadium and fill in the caption:
Getty Images Photo
Bonus points if you declined to use any expletives.
Talk about your deer in the headlights moments. You have to wonder what exactly was going through the 22-year-old’s mind last night after watching Beckett get lit up to the tune of seven hits and seven earned runs in -- and we can’t stress this enough, so we’ll spell it out -- one and one-third innings pitched. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve studied for the test, only to realize you’ve forgotten all the answers the moment the bubble sheet lands on your desk.
In any case, Pauley, who played tourist yesterday in his first-ever visit to New York, will get his second major league start tonight, before a full house in Yankee Stadium, one night after the Yankees put 13 runs on the board in a game started by Boston’s supposed 1A. In his major league debut last week in Toronto, Pauley allowed 11 hits and six earned runs over 4 1/3 innings, a performance that prompted Terry Francona to award him another start. He gave him that second chance only after looking around the clubhouse, up and down the 40-man roster, the waiver wire, and at any promising looking guys trying to bust the radar gun at the local fair, and realizing he had no other options.
So, Pauley. Or, as they might call him in Tinseltown, “Cla Meredith II.”
Pauley could summon the Ghost of Lou Merloni and announce that, “The Red Sox are making a mockery of my career.” And he might be right. There’s a reason that Jon Lester is not starting tonight in Yankee Stadium. The club doesn’t feel that Yankee Stadium is the place for a promising lefty to begin his career, not the way to ruin a guy’s psyche in what they hope to be a long and fruitful career.
Pauley? Eh, throw him to the wolves.
Knowing this, it was of ultra importance for Beckett to give the Sox a strong performance, with the bullpen likely needed for at least half the game tonight. Instead, Beckett went out and had the third-shortest outing of his career. They were depending on six or so out of him, and he delivered -- I can’t get enough of it -- one and one-third innings.
Beckett’s road and home splits are amazing, especially considering it’s not like the kid can be completely familiar with pitching at Fenway Park, having pitched there just four times. And yet, he’s 3-0 in the confines, with 2.16 ERA. Everywhere else, he is 4-3 with a 7.00 ERA. Beckett has allowed 16 (16!) home runs thus far, second only to Bruce Chen and Jon Garland, both having horrific seasons. Even more stunning is that he’s allowed zero (0!) of those home runs at Fenway. Of all starting pitchers in baseball, Beckett’s 5.27 ERA is just above Vicente Padilla and just below Ian Snell. No disrespect, but those are not exactly the sort of names the Red Sox expected their offseason prize to be associated with in the first week of June.
I watched the first inning last night, before adjourning to the kitchen for some dinner. Soon enough, I returned to the family room, where the score had gone from 1-0 to 8-2, in the time it took to inhale a Panini. Instead of watching that mess, we popped in “Assault on Precinct 13,” which was terrible. But after watching that for two hours and switching on the TV again to see they were in the seventh inning -- the seventh inning? -- with the score 13-5, it became an instant favorite. Celine Dion’s ridiculous appearance on the tired “Deal or No Deal” last night would have been treasured if it kept me away from the calamity at hand down the digital dial.
Now the Sox are in a situation in which they are so short on bullpen arms that they may need to make a roster move before tonight’s game. Jermaine Van Buren (1 1/3, the lucky number), David Riske (2 1/3), Julian Tavarez (2 innings), and Manny Delcarmen (1 inning) were all forced to pitch last night. If Boston is forced to go to the bullpen early tonight as well, those are some significantly tired arms for the rest of this series. And let’s not forget, the Sox leave the Bronx on Thursday night to head home to play four games in three days against the Texas Rangers.
If he’s aware of that being the case, how many pitches does Curt Schilling try to force out tomorrow night, 150? Remember the 133-pitch outing in Cleveland? The Sox can ill afford to risk those repercussions from their ace a second time.
So, in dives David Pauley against, despite its injuries, possibly the best lineup in baseball. The lions are hungry. And after devouring the offering last night, they are licking their chops at the sacrificial lamb that lay waiting in the wings of the dugout.
“If you can get though [pitching at Yankee Stadium], you can get through a lot of things," Pauley said hours before watching the Yankees tear apart Beckett yesterday.
Just getting through five innings would be a godsend for Boston.