Monday, August 31, 2009

Sox Hanging Low

The Red Sox aren't winning the AL East this year. We all realized this when they lost that 15 inning 2-0 marathon to the Yankees. That was the tipping point. That was also the game that sent fair weather BoSox fan (roughly 90% of all BoSox fans) into hibernation. But the real Red Sox fan and Yankees fan know you can't totally dismiss Boston for the season.

Boston is currently 3.5 games up on Texas in the Wild Card. They are 5 games up on Tampa. Neither team will catch the Red Sox.

Texas had a legitimate shot.

On Friday, August 14 the Red Sox began a 3 game series against the Rangers in Arlington. Boston held a slim half game lead in the Wild Card going in.

Texas was up 4-2 heading into the top of the 9th with their closer Frank Francisco on the mound to face the 7-8-9 Boston hitters. Going into the inning, Francisco's ERA was 2.01. When he walked off the mound, it had ballooned to 3.66.

Boston quickly jumped on Francisco and had cut the deficit to 4-3. Terry Francona sent Clay Buchholz to pinch run for Jason Varitek. The move nearly crushed Francona's reputation as a wise manager.

Dustin Pedroia drilled a ball to the left field wall where David Murphy nearly made an amazing catch. Buchholz was totally confused. He looked like, well, a pitcher running the bases. He stopped between 2nd and 3rd and then decided to make a run for home. Needless to say he was gunned down on the relay throw at the plate.

The air had been sucked out of Boston's playoff hopes.

Then wouldn't you know it, newly acquired Victor Martinez stepped up next and delivered a 2 out game winning double down the left field line. The Red Sox had been saved.

Yeah, Boston went on to lose the next 2 games of the series and were a half game out of the wild card. But if Boston had been swept, and lost Friday's game on Buchholz's baserunning blunder, that would have just killed the team's confidence and they would have left Arlington 2.5 games out.

Since that series, Boston has gone 10-3 and Texas 6-7.

Boston's lineup has been too inconsistent this year. Something we never saw during the Manny days. One week they'll fail to score a run in 31 consecutive innings, two weeks later, they'll put up 25 in two days.

Pitching wise, Wakefield will be back, but Dice-K seems highly unlikely. Josh Beckett had a really rough August. In 6 starts, Beckett was 2-1, 39.1 innings, 36 hits, 22 earned runs-a 2.03 ERA.

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