Jeff Suppan had two stints with the Red Sox. He came up with the Sox in 1995, and hung around until 1997. He picked up nine wins for the Sox in this stint before beginning to bounce from team to team. One of those bounces landed him back in Boston at the 2003 trading deadline. It was a pretty big pick up at the time. He was supposed to be the key to getting the Sox over the top. He wasn’t. Looking back, it was the classic case of “best available” becoming “best.” Just because he was the best pitcher on the trading block, he became everyone’s must-have. But, it still didn’t make him a difference maker. His half season in Boston was less than memorable. The only memorable thing about it, really, was the set of trades he was involved in. The Red Sox and Pirates swapped a couple players back and forth in a couple deals just before the deadline. It was a weird series of events. But, it was the role that Suppan played the following year that was the most help to the Sox.
In 2004 Suppan was a top starter for the Cardinals. As such, he found himself starting game 3 of the World Series against Pedro Martinez. Since the game was in St Louis, things were looking up for the Cardinals, despite being down 0-2. They played very well at home that year. Because of the NL park, the pitcher would bat and Suppan was more used to doing that then Pedro was. It also meant the Sox sat Kevin Millar in order to get David Ortiz’s bat in the line-up at first base. As it turned out, those advantages weren’t all they were cracked up to be. We all know the story. Representing the tying run, on third base in the third inning, Suppan was ready to score on a groundball. But the NL pitcher used to running the bases got turned around. He stopped, started, spun, danced, and didn’t score. Not only that, but the Sox’s poor first baseman gunned him down for a double play. The Cardinals didn’t score off Pedro that inning, or any inning. As often happens with an ace, you have to get them early. Pedro settled into a groove after that. The Sox never looked back.
So, while Suppan couldn’t bring the Sox a title while he was wearing the uniform, he was a big help from the visitor’s dugout. For that, he has the thanks of Red Sox nation.
Happy 36th Birthday Jeff Suppan!