It was a relatively quiet day at the old ballyard.
Jack Morris, a Hall of Fame candidate and a rookie broadcaster for Toronto’s 590 The Fan, sat in the visiting radio booth and did not accuse Clay Buchholz of cheating. Buchholz pitched eight more sparkling innings (six hits, two runs), but was not involved in the decision against the Blue Jays.
We watched David Ortiz extend his hitless streak to 17 at-bats and all breathed a sigh of relief (well, I know I did) when Big Papi snapped out of his mini-slump with a single to left in the third.
Red Sox “Chairman” Tom Werner (third-most-famous Chairman, trailing only Mao and Frank Sinatra) was not provoked to write another missive summoning the spirit of Jackie Robinson and complaining that the Globe and other media outlets are being unfair to Sox players.
Toronto left fielder Melky Cabera — who actually did cheat and was suspended 50 games for using synthetic testosterone last season — singled to left with a man on second in the third to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
Overall, it was too quiet at Fenway.
The Sox were largely shut down by Mark Buehrle, rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair in the eighth, only to have new closer Junichi Tazawa surrender a monstrous game-losing solo homer to Adam Lind in the ninth. The Sox were 3-2 losers, tasting defeat for the seventh time in nine games. Where have you gone, Big Galoot, Jonathan Papelbon?
What we are seeing is market correction from the 20-8 start. It was Earl Weaver who said “you are never as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose’’ and the 2013 Red Sox are a good example of this. They have come back to the pack but let’s not get greedy. There is every indication that they are in this race to stay and that is a good thing after what the Nation endured in 2012.
Saturday’s loss amounts to a wasted opportunity because Buchholz was again brilliant. He is 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA and gave up only six hits and two runs over eight innings. Buchholz has pitched at least six full innings in each of his eight starts this season.
“Eight innings, two runs is a very good day,’’ said Sox manager John Farrell.
The Sox stranded eight. They left runners in scoring position in the first, second, eighth, and ninth. This is what happens when you grind out at-bats and put a lot of runners on base. You leave runners on base.
“We create opportunities for ourselves,’’ said Farrell. “There’s a little frustration there.’’
“We have a lot of character in this clubhouse,’’ said Sox catcher David Ross. “These guys battled and came back to tie the game, we just couldn’t close it. We just have to be patient and keep battling. In a major league season, you are going to have ups and downs. If you have a lot of confidence in the team, you respect each other. There’s not one guy on this team I don’t have confidence in.’’
Jacoby Ellsbury’s booming triple to center triggered the Sox’ two-run rally in the eighth, but Darren Oliver fanned Ortiz with Dustin Pedroia on second and one out.
Oliver is a 42-year-old guy who once pitched to Mike Greenwell and was acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for Jurassic Carl Everett way back in 2001. Ortiz tried to check his swing, but he was rung up by third base umpire Alan Porter.
Big Papi is frustrated. He was hitting .426 the day (Tuesday) I spoke with him at some length about steroid suspicions — suspicions owed in part to his name being on a list of those who tested positive in 2003.
On that day, Ortiz was expansive and polite about the uncomfortable topic. He delivered thoughtful answers, explained testing procedures, and said, “I guarantee you that later, you are not going to find out that I tested positive for some [expletive].’’
He went hitless the day the story ran and is now in a 1-for-21 slump.
His average has dropped from .426 to .333. He is a baseball player. He is superstitious. He blames me. I understand.
Ortiz was not in a mood for questions after Saturday’s game.
He walked past a group of reporters, hurled an insult at me, and said, “By the way, I got tested that day [Tuesday].’’
He kept walking, and added, “Let me know what I tested positive for in 2003.’’
And then he was gone. Quietly. Like just about everything else Saturday afternoon at Fenway.