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Normally, I don’t even mention the umpiring/officiating when putting together these game reviews (unless we’re talking about the NBA, where “referee” and “crook” are synonymous terms). But, home plate umpire Dale Scott’s performance on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway, especially in the ninth inning, was poor at best; and crooked at worst.
Fast forward to the ninth, with the Red Sox down 3-0 but threatening to score. Kevin Youkilis was on first base after a single, and the white-hot J.D. Drew was at the plate. Normally mild-mannered, Drew turned back to talk to Scott on two occasions during the at bat for pitches well outside the strike zone. Drew has a keen eye, and I’m apt to trust his judgment, but NESN’s Amica Pitch Zone clearly showed that both pitches were at least six inches outside the strike zone. Drew, facing a 3-2 count instead of a walk, blasted a run-scoring double over the head of Vernon Wells in center field.
Next up was David Ortiz, who represented the tying run at the plate. Jays closer Kevin Gregg was all over the strike zone (but rarely in it), and Ortiz brought his usual patience at bat. Facing a 3-2 pitch, Ortiz watched what appeared to be Ball 4…but was instead Strike 3 on a pitch at least 6-8 inches off the plate. Instead of having Ortiz walking to first base, the Red Sox lost a baserunner, and Ortiz was nearly ejected for arguing his case.
Now with two outs in the inning, Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate hoping to drive in Drew. During his at bat, he appeared to check his swing, but the umpire (Scott) called it a swing and refused to check with the first base umpire. This brought out Terry Francona, who was immediately ejected for coming out of the dugout during an at-bat. Perhaps with a fire lit under him, Beltre singled home Drew to bring the Sox one run closer. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2, Dale Scott 1.
Lost in the umpire drama was the performance of Tim Wakefield, who was spot-starting for the injured Josh Beckett. Wake tried to show the team that he’s deserving of a rotation spot, and for the most part, he did. He went seven innings with three runs allowed on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts (he also became the fourth active pitcher with 2,000 career strikeouts).
Wakefield made only one true mistake all game, and it cost him. He allowed a two-run HR to the young Travis Snider, who ended up with the game-winning RBI on that swing.
The Sox had no answer for Jays starter Shawn Marcum, who baffled the Boston bats over seven shutout innings. He allowed just two hits and a walk.
Save for a Dale Scott blunder (Ortiz should have walked in the ninth), and Ortiz would have been 2-3 with a walk. Instead, he finished 2-4 with two strikeouts and was the only Sox bat with more than one hit.
I don’t know how much more I can say. Scott was erratic with his strike zone. After the game, Brian Daubach on NESN said that Scott normally has a tight strike zone, so it all just doesn’t make sense.
Daubach, in the meantime, deserves the “Dud of the Game” honor too, as he is just unbearable to watch sometimes. He stumbles over simple words and sentences, and just doesn’t seem comfortable behind the mic.
W: Shawn Marcum (2-0)
L: Tim Wakefield (0-1)
S: Kevin Gregg (10)