The Devil Rays came into Chicago winners of just one in their last twenty on the road. Their starting pitcher didn't make it out of the first, issuing 5 walks on his way to spotting the Sox a 7 run lead. They failed to turn a double play that allowed the Sox to score 4 runs in the second inning, and BJ Upton threw another ball into CF that allowed the Sox to tack on another insurance run late in the contest. Yet they still forced the Sox to use 5 pitchers including Bobby Jenks, who recorded his league leading 37th save in 1-2-3 fashion.
The D-Rays did their best to make this a nice, easy, quick victory for the Sox, but Freddy Garcia and the back-end of the bullpen was having none of it. Freddy had himself a typical Freddy outing, steadily letting the Rays back into the game. Thankfully, Jermaine Dye and the offense had themselves a typical offensive night nullifying Freddy's attempts to give the game away.
The other day, I made fun of the Sox sneaking Jerry Owned onto the major league roster through a rather large loophole that I don't really understand. Putting aside my snark for a second, and given the way Ozzie lets handedness dictate how he runs his bullpen, they really need to add a second lefty to before the deadline on Thursday. Neal Cotts has gone from undervalued to lefty set-up man to unreliable to downright scary. I wasn't even comfortable when he entered the game with a 6-run lead tonight, and with good reason. About 20 pitches into his outing, he had failed to record an out, walked one, and given up a painfully predictable HR.
It's amazing how quickly things change. Months ago, I never could have imagined that I would be wishing for Boone Logan to be put on the Sox in favor of Neal Cotts, who was the second most valuable bullpen arm in the post-season last year. Cliff Politte, the most valuable bullpen arm during the regular season in '05, didn't make it much past the All-Star game. Hermanson will be back, but only as a gesture of gratitude for his effort last season and mutual respect between he and the organization. The crazy volatility of relief pitchers is part of the reason I was against giving up Tyler Lumsden for Mike MacDougal, but I struggle to imagine the Sox making the post-season without him.