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Game Forty-Nine: Red Sox 5, Indians 3

Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Josh Barfield .176
Victor Martinez .099
Aaron Fultz .003

Lowest WPA:

Travis Hafner -.259
Casey Blake -.151
Trot Nixon -.097

When you see the pitching matchup, given what we've seen of Cliff Lee lately, your expectations are lowered dramatically. Fenway Park, the Red Sox offense, and Cliff Lee? I'll be enjoying the last few hours of Memorial Day by the third inning. Well, Lee didn't exactly pitch a masterpiece, the Indians used the Dark Side of their bullpen, and they still had a chance to take the lead with two outs in the ninth inning. So why do I feel utter frustration instead of unanticipated happiness that the Indians actually made it a game?

The reason: so many missed opportunities. I suppose that this is the lament of every losing side, but in this case they seemed more tantalizing than normal. I mean, Travis Hafner at the plate with runners at second and third, and a human Jonathan Papelbon on the mound?  

(Which begs the question as to how Hafner has devolved from a demigod of power and fear to a mere mortal in the space of six weeks. He's now hitting .267/.423/.467. Let that sink in.)

Of course the at-bat before Hafner came to the plate involved a very controversial judgment call by Chuck Meriwether. Casey Blake started after a high Papelbon fastball, then stopped after the ball hit him on the hand. The home plate umpire awarded Blake first base, but upon appeal, first base umpire Meriwether judged that Blake swung the bat. If a batter swings at the pitch and gets hit, that is considered a swing and a miss. And in this case, it was strike 3. This isn't a protestable call since it was a judgment call. In my (probably biased) view, Blake's "swing" was him getting out of the way of the baseball, and since intent is taken into consideration of whether a player swings or not, it shouldn't have been a swing, and Blake should have been awarded first base.

Cliff Lee went only five innings thanks mostly to an awful pitching performance in the fourth inning, allowing just two runs, falling behind hitters, getting ahead of hitters and grooving a pitch, and committing other cardinal sins of pitching. The upshot is that he threw a massive amount of pitches just to get out of the inning, and the Indians had to go with Roberto Hernandez and Friends for the next three innings.

The Indians lost ground to just one team in the AL Central today (fourth-place Minnesota), so this wasn't too big of a loss. But unimportant losses can be frustrating, too.

Next Up: Sowers vs. Beckett, 7:05 PM