Lifting Kazmir after 111 pitches and a long half-inning? Good. There was no reason to leave him in under those circumstances.
Putting in Balfour? Excellent. Clearly Maddon was trying to prevent the Red Sox from having a chance at a comeback by bridging the final nine with his best relievers.
Leaving Wheeler in to face five straight switch hitters or lefties? Why. Howell or Price or even Miller should've entered after Balfour. I don't know what Maddon was thinking by having Wheeler be Plan B to Balfour. The next inning would've seen the same batters come up, so while bringing Wheeler in for one out doesn't make sense, nor does not having a lefty ready to face the non-Jason Bay hitters.
I am not overly concerned about any residual effects. Yes, that loss sucks. Yes, the TBS announcers are being muted from here on out. Yes, that was about as sure of a thing as any win, but we just need one. You can talk about momentum all you want, but frankly that's bullshit. If momentum were so damning why in the hell were the Red Sox still playing last night after getting the crap beat out of them the prior two games?
So James Shields at the Trop is what it comes down to. We're still plus-one, and I think we learned something last night about how far this team has came. Last season that would've been just another implosion, but look at the reaction. I don't know that we had 50 comments following the Toronto/Florida explosions last season, yet when I woke up this morning we had 300 within seven and a half hours.
The loss stings, but at the same time it reminded us that we're one step, literally, from the World Series.
I could probably write 3,000 words about it yet I think it's smart if we begin looking at game six.