How many times does Joe Torre have to be burned by pinch-running for Jason Giambi relatively early in a game before he gets it through his thick skull that it's not prudent strategy? The extra speed that a Miguel Cairo or Kevin Thompson offers on the basepaths in the seventh inning is not worth the potential disaster that unfolded last night, when Thompson came to bat (and looked completely overmatched) in the ninth, trailing 7-6, with two outs and the tying run on base.
If Giambi has been up in that situation, the faint flicker of hope would have permeated the dark recesses of Fenway. With Thompson, the game was over before it was actually over.
Meanwhile, Torre's annual spring training proclamation that he would not use Mariano Rivera before the ninth inning anymore fell by the wayside even quicker than usual this year. Faced with his first game against Boston, Torre's lack of trust in the middle relief betrayed him, and he collapsed hard into old habits. Rivera's choke job rendered the decision meaningless, but it's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses (and Rivera eventually lands on the DL with elbow or shoulder soreness).