It was a scenario not even the most outrageous huckster would try to pitch to a movie studio.
“So here’s the deal. There’s this one team, they’ve had a big recovery from a real bad season start, and now they have a chance to make the playoffs, but they have to win pretty much all the rest of their games. First scene, they’re up against a team that has been out of the race all season, got nothing to play for except to get the season over – not quite the Bad News Bears, but you get the idea.
“So this game, the team playing for the playoffs has a young pitcher going that has been mowing down everybody he’s faced for a couple of months. The loser of a team has another young guy who can be pretty good, but isn’t very often. Sounds like a head-to-head of the kids, right? Only we put in a twist and the loser team pitcher hurts his leg warming up – warming up – and they have to suddenly bring in a bunch of guys from the bullpen to try to stop the good team.
“Sure, you think it could work with a good bullpen, only the best three relievers this team has pitched the night before and they’re not available. It’s up to the riffraffy types to try to save the day. And they do! They’re incredible! One after another, the whole bunch – let’s say five of them – lights out! Shutout game!
“But that’s not all. Team’s gotta score to win, right? So we let them go without a hit for a bunch of innings – let’s say until the fourth – and then, WHAM! Guy gets a hit, guy gets a walk – extra angle here, because this team has no idea how to take a walk usually – next guy, make him the catcher, boom! Three run homer! Next guy up is the worst hitter in baseball – horrible, horrible. Hasn’t hit a homer since the Carter administration, barely has a hit all year, and double wham – 113.8 miles per hour and gone!
“Next inning, guy leading the league in hitting gets a hit, guy leading the league in runs batted in drives him in, the score keeps mounting. While later the guy who hadn’t hit a homer in half a century does it again – 439 feet! Eight to zilch. Heck, just to put in another twist, the loser of a team, which usually strikes all the time and like I said never walks, gets six walks an only eight whiffs. Keen, huh?
“Time for the good team to come back, right? Only here’s the big twist – they don’t. Everybody in the audience expects the big heroic comeback, but they roll over like a tumbleweed in a twister, they fold like a napkin on a cruise ship. It finishes ocho-nada. Pretty good, huh?”
Studio head response: “Get him out of my office. Now!”
If you didn’t see it, chances aren’t you don’t believe, either, especially after Dylan Cease strained a hamstring in the bullpen warming up, and Jose Ruiz had to start the game. But here’s a James McCann three-run blast, followed by a little Palka poke:
Don’t believe Palka did it? How about twice?
But for all that, this game belonged to the bullpen. Ruiz got out of a bases-loaded jam and went 1 2/3 scoreless. Josh Osich pitched the longest – and arguably best – stint of his career, 3 1/3 perfect innings with 3 K’s. Jimmy Cordero went two perfect, Jace Fry an inning with one hit and two K’s, and even Hector Santiago chipped in, striking out the side in the ninth.
Isn’t playing spoiler fun? Not as much fun as being in a position to be the spoilee, maybe, but a fun nonetheless. The Indians aren’t completely eliminated from the possibility of a wild card, but you aren’t completely eliminated from the possibility of winning the Powerball, either.
Next up for the Sox is a venture into the depths horribleness, hopefully just for the other guys, as they face the Tigers for the final four games of the season. That fiasco begins with a doubleheader tomorrow, with game time of the opener moved up to 3:10 CDT to try to beat anticipated thunderstorms.