One of the dangers of a long game is that the next day (take your pick) your manager will be afraid to go to the bullpen early or the bullpen simply won’t be available for a lot of innings. Happened to the Braves today, it seems. (The Red Sox had had two extra-inning games in a row coming in, but they had Curt Schilling pitching for them.) John Thomson, through five, had held the Sox to a single run on a Garciaparra homer. But in the sixth, he allowed another homer (to Damon) then after getting two out loaded the bases.
Now, this is an obvious situation to go to the pen. You’re up against Schilling, and the odds are you aren’t going to get many runs anyway. And (I firmly believe) too much of the time you’re going to have to go to the pen soon anyway, and half the time you wind up doing that with lots of runs already in and the game blown. Thomson had only thrown about 90 pitches, so I guess Bobby thought he could get out of it.
He didn’t. He gave up a grand slam to Doug Flipping Mirabelli. Game over. McConnell came in and got the next out, but there was little point and they might as well have left Thomson in. McConnell and Tim Drew finished the game without incident.
The Braves got their only run in the next inning with an infield single by LaRoche, of all people. Schilling held them to six hits and only one walk. They had a few opportunities to get runs home without a hit, but blew them.
Tomorrow should be a hitter’s game, with Derek Lowe (5.47 ERA) versus Hampton (5.55). But given the Braves’ usual Sunday hitting, I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s not my imagination, is it? They really do have trouble hitting on Sunday? Maybe Andruw takes everybody out clubbing or something.