By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — A sense of humor has been absolutely necessary in order to have survived this ongoing global pandemic/national nightmare. If Red Sox fans thought the return of real, live sports might provide a relief from that reality, they were proven wrong before the first game in Boston concluded.
Of course, nothing that took place at Fenway Park on Tuesday night actually “mattered,” as it was one of two dress rehearsals for the real thing, which will be coming Friday night. The Blue Jays-Red Sox exhibition on Tuesday gave players a chance to get a feel for playing in an empty ballpark, it gave broadcasters the chance to call a game from a remote location, and gave fans the chance to see what baseball in 2020 will look like. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to take away from a game that had 31 different position players and 10 pitchers take the field.
Nevertheless, after a four-month sports hiatus, the Boston Red Sox taking the field at Fenway Park to play a live baseball game on TV was a moment for brief celebration.
Alas, there’s an emphasis on the word “brief.” For it only took eight innings or so for the Red Sox of 2019 to make their 2020 debut.
If you had somehow blocked it out of your mind, the 2019 Red Sox were quite bad in numerous ways, but their pitching — both with their starters and their bullpen — was the biggest issue. On the occasions when starters pitched well enough, their wins were all too often kicked away with blown saves later in the game. The Red Sox’ attempt to navigate the season without a real closer proved an unwise endeavor.
One of those men who tried to fill the closer’s role in 2019 was Ryan Brasier. Somewhat of a wild card, Brasier was worth a shot after his impressive postseason showing in 2018. He’d end up with just seven saves with four blown saves, though.
Yet on Tuesday, in the game that did not matter, Brasier took the ball in the ninth inning, looking to lock down a victory for the Red Sox, who led 6-5. Brasier’s first pitch was sent into left field for a double by Rowdy Tellez — an inauspicious start to the outing, to be sure.
Teoscar Hernandez then singled to put runners on the corners (and the tying run on third) with nobody out. The trouble was mounting, and Brasier wanted to eliminate some of it, so he threw over to first base to try to pick off Hernandez.
The throw over to first did not catch Hernandez by surprise. It did, however, catch first baseman Tzu-Wei Lin by surprise. Lin wasn’t looking at Brasier when the pickoff throw came his way, and the throw promptly left the field of play. Tellez was awarded the plate to tie the game, while Hernandez trotted to second as the go-ahead run.
Still, Brasier could have escaped further trouble. He could have pitched his way out of it.
Instead, on the very next pitch, he served up a two-run bomb to Derek Fisher.
And just like that, a 6-5 lead turned into an 8-6 deficit in the blink of an eye. Feels a whole lot like 2019 again, doesn’t it?
2019 sox are BACK baby! pic.twitter.com/IxCIrWZc1s
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) July 22, 2020
Look at how far this thing went:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 22, 2020
Great googly moogly.
Anyways, again, to reiterate, the final score of Tuesday night’s game didn’t matter for anything. But with real games starting in mere days, the first offering of what is to come certainly resembled what the Red Sox looked like the last time we saw them playing games at Fenway Park.
While such outings can be frustrating for fans to watch, it’s likely best in this environment to simply sit back and laugh. That has tended to be the best way to get through any of this.