So, about that second inning.
Jeremy Hellickson started for the Rays against the Red Sox. The first inning went perfectly well, as Hellickson needed only a dozen pitches to dispatch the Crimson Hose in order. The second inning didn't go so well. Hellickson walked David Ortiz on four pitches, and he walked Mike Napoli on four pitches. Jamey Wright was unlimbering himself in the bullpen, and trotted in from the bullpen after Hellickson gave up a bases-loading single to Daniel Nava.
So let's review ... Bases loaded. Nobody out. Elimination game for the Rays. And riding to the rescue, their 56-year-old middle-relief pitcher. Ho boy.
Here's what Jamey Wright did to Jarrod Saltamacchia:
That fifth pitch was the strikeout pitch, a curveball that just clipped the edge of the strike zone (and here's to umpire Paul Emmel for calling that one correctly).
But the bases were still loaded, with Stephen Drew coming up. Could Wright, hardly a brilliant strikeout (or any other sort of) pitcher, actually escape this most dangerous situation? Sure, with a little help from his friends ...
... and yes, you're excused for suddenly craving an entire carafe of orange juice; Jamey Wright probably did, too.
Wright would last just one batter in the third inning, but he'll forever live in franchise lore, especially if his club winds up winning Game 4. When Wright made his miraculous escape, I immediately flashed back to Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, 18 years ago. Rookie Bob Wolcott started for the Mariners against the Indians.
In the first inning, Wolcott walked Kenny Lofton. And Omar Vizquel. And Carlos Baerga. Lou Piniella could have yanked Wolcott right there. But he didn't. And Wolcott struck out Albert Belle, retired Eddie Murray on a foul pop, and escaped the inning when second baseman Joey Cora made a great play on Jim Thome's screaming grounder.
Wolcott wound up pitching seven innings for the win.
He wouldn't pitch again in the series, which the M's lost in six games. But tonight, that doesn't matter. Bob Wolcott would finish his major-league career with 16 wins, 21 losses, and a 5.86 ERA. But tonight, that doesn't matter. Tonight, Bob Wolcott lives again forever.