Sox go 0-6 in their most crucial 6-game stretch
By: Jared Carrabis
When the Red Sox were faced with their most crucial six-game stretch of the season, it seemed as if though everything that could have went wrong, went wrong for Boston.
I had the unfortunate experience of being at Yankee Stadium for the first game of this four-game embarrassment, and believe me, it was no prize. Things started off well when Dustin Pedroia hit a home run to the opposite field for the first time in his life, but the excitement was short-lived. Even when Casey Kotchman chipped in with his first home run in a Red Sox uniform, the Yankees stormed back to add on more runs and then some. The Sox would ultimately end up losing that game by a one-sided score of 13-6.
When I was walking out of Yankee Stadium that night, I was taunted by the classy fans of New York. One fan actually asked me if I wanted to "take it outside", but I kept my mouth shut. I didn't want to be arrogant, because I could have easily have said, "Congrats on beating the Red Sox for the first time on your ninth try." Instead of saying something that could come back to bite me in the behind (which it would have), I chose to look forward, instead of living in the past, by saying, "Good luck with Beckett tomorrow!"
As I had hoped, Josh Beckett was masterful. Only one problem; the offense was the exact opposite. The mighty right-hander dominated the men in pinstripes for seven frames, giving up just four hits, no runs and struck out seven. The only problem was that his former Marlin teammate, AJ Burnett, stole the show, going 7.2 innings of shutout ball, holding the Sox to just one hit, while striking out six.
That pitcher's duel took both teams into a scoreless tie that took the fans of Boston past the midnight hour. Finally, in the fifteenth inning, it was the ultimate villain here in Boston that ended the scoreless marathon by hitting a two-run walk-off home run into the New York night to sink the Sox.
Also, when I walked out of Yankee Stadium on Thursday night, there were several taunts of Ortiz's link to performance enhancing drugs. The taunts made me laugh in the face of their hypocrisy. Here we have a bunch of Yankee fans taunting me for Ortiz being named on a list of PEDs users, while each and every person who had something to say has cheered the likes of Roger Clemens, Denny Neagle, Jason Grimsley, Sunday night's starter, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton, David Justice and Friday night's hero*, Alex Rodriguez himself, all of whom have either been linked to, or have admitted to using performance enhancing drugs and have donned pinstripes. In other words, shut your mouth.
So, on Saturday night, the Sox did their best, not just to win, but to just flat out score a single run. It was a task that was proven to be too daunting for our beloved team. After the Sox fell victim to New York's $82.5 million right-handed free agent-prize on Friday, it was time for Boston to take their hacks against George's left-handed $161 million prize in CC Sabathia.
Again, the Sox' bats couldn't buy a hit, so naturally, scoring runs seemed out of the realm of possibility. For the second straight game, a Yankee starter had pitched his way into the eighth inning (seven and two thirds) without allowing a single run, and Sabathia himself had kept Boston to just two lonely hits. New York tagged onto their 1-0 lead by scoring in each of the final three innings to put the Bombers a game away from a four-game sweep in the Bronx.
Which brings us to Sunday night. The Nation turned their hopeful eyes to Jon Lester, but by the time this series had gotten to Sunday, the past three games had almost seemed surreal. How could the Red Sox who were once unbeaten at 8-0 against the Yankees be fighting to not only just win a game against them, but just to score a run would have been something we'd like to see? Sox fans were dying for something to cheer for, anything at all.
Lester had done all that he could and more to end the Sox' streak at five, as he pitched into the seventh inning without allowing a run. It was then that A-Rod brought the Stadium to their feet by launching a solo shot to left-center to break another scoreless tie between these two rivals. Lester left the game after going seven strong innings, allowing just the one earned run, while striking out seven Yankee batters.
Finally, and I'm not even saying that sarcastically, the Red Sox broke their scoreless innings streak when Victor Martinez blasted a two-run bomb off of Phil Coke deep into the left field corner to give Boston the lead. I honestly thought that that home run was the one thing that could turn this teams' fortunes around, but sadly, I was mistaken.
In the very next inning, as if it wasn't going to be painful enough to lose our lead, it had to be Johnny Damon that roped a line shot over the wall in right-center to tie the game right back up at two. As if that blast off of Daniel Bard wasn't enough for us Sox fans to endure at the time, Mark Teixeira made things worse when two pitches later, he cranked a $180 million solo shot into the right field corner to give the lead right back to the Yankees. It truly was a devastating and back-breaking moment for the team and its fans.
The Yankees would later add to their lead, as Boston would bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth against Mariano Rivera, but to no avail. With a broken bat soft ground to Teixeira off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees had completed their four-game sweep of the Red Sox.
In conclusion, in a blog that I was dreading to write and one that most will probably not even read, I leave you with these words from your All Star, MVP second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, "There’s a lot of heart on this team. Nobody's going to quit. We’re going to play as hard as we can. I promise you guys that."
Things you'll need to know that you probably don't care about:
When Victor Martinez hit his two-run shot in the eighth inning on Sunday night, it snapped the longest consecutive scoreless innings streak (31 innings) since the 1974 Red Sox went a whole 34 innings without a single run.
The last time the Red Sox have been swept in a four-game series by the Yankees in Yankee Stadium was way back in 1985.
With the loss, Boston is now tied with the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card standings and are now 6.5 games back in the AL East and just a game-..and-a-half up on the Tampa Bay Rays.
Bard's eighth inning home run that he allowed to Johnny Damon was the second game-tying home run that he has allowed over this crucial six-game road trip/losing streak. (Evan Longoria)
The last time Jon Lester allowed a home run was back on June 18, a whole 63.2 innings prior.
Monday's pitching match-up:
The Sox now return home (finally) for a brief four-game set against the Detroit Tigers. Brad Penny will get the ball against a starting pitcher who certainly won't be curing any offensive struggles, Edwin Jackson. His 8-5 record may not open any eyes, but his 2.62 ERA might do the trick. However, his 2-4 record with a 5.44 ERA against the Red Sox gives fans a glimmer of hope. If that doesn't boost your optimism, then his 0-4 record with a 7.14 ERA at Fenway Park better raise some points on the Red Sox Nation optimism meter. In the home dugout, Penny will be looking to add on to his 5-2 record at Fenway Park.
Keep your heads up RSN; this is a 162-game season,
Sox lose in extras, drop to 2-12 at the Trop in last two seasons By: Jared Carrabis
Remember the good ol' days when Tropicana Field used to rise to their feet to give Red Sox pitchers a standing ovation after a great outing? I sure do.
Those, of course, were the days way back when the Sox fan to (Devil) Rays fan ratio was about 12:1. Oh, how things have changed. Cowbells and all, Jon Lester took the mound looking to keep pace with the division leading Yankees and to drive the Tampa Bay Rays further down in the AL East.
Boston's second ace in their deck pitched brilliantly and well enough to guide his team to victory. The innings weren't what we're used to seeing out of Lester, but after 110 pitched, 10 K's, three hits and an earned run over six innings, it was time to call it a day. When the Sox' southpaw walked off the mound on Tuesday night, he left with a 2-0 lead, which was provided by solo jacks off the bats of Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia.
It was Hideki Okajima to come in from the pen in relief of Lester, but he would allow his one inherited runner to score before his day was done. The RBI single by Jason Bartlett slimmed Boston's lead down to 2-1.
In the eighth, manager Terry Francona elected to go with what seems to be his new setup man, Daniel Bard. Leading off the frame was Evan Longoria. Before he had stepped to the plate, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year had been 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts at the hands of Jon Lester. Against Bard, it was a whole different ballgame. Little did Bard know, he was being matched up against a right-handed hitter who was hitting Boston pitching at a .375 clip in 2009 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. Please keep in mind, that small sample of domination is only in ten games (40 at bats).
"We've seen him at his best," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I know he's a great player. We seem to bring out a lot in him."
Bard's first pitch to Longoria was a 96 MPH fastball that wouldn't be coming down any time soon. The solo blast for Longoria tied the game at two and set the stage for five more grueling innings of baseball between the American League Champions and the runner-up.
Both teams dodged bullets left and right in the late innings, as the Sox loaded the bases in the tenth with one out, but a Dustin Pedroia double play killed the Sox' chances of scoring, and the Rays had also loaded the bases in both the eighth and tenth innings with no outs and failed to plate a run.
When the game reached the bottom of the thirteenth, Takashi Saito working on completing his second inning of work when he allowed a walk to Michel Hernandez, who would later make his way to third after a sacrifice bunt and a ground out to the right side. With two outs and first base open, to the plate came Evan Longoria.
Now, I've never criticized Terry Francona's managerial decisions in print, but I honestly think that out of every fan that was watching this game, at least 80% of them either thought this in their head, or leaned over and said this out loud to their buddy, "They're going to walk him here, right?"
In his career, Longoria was hitting .500 off of Saito with a home run. Now, I'm no big league manager, nor will I ever be, but that stat says something to me, especially when it's not a fluke situation where a certain player has a certain pitcher's number. The Sox were dealing with one of the elite bats in the league, not to mention he had already tied this game with a deep shot earlier in the night.
So, again, with first base open, the Red Sox elected to pitch to Longoria, and boy did they pay for it. Saito's 31st pitch was a 1-0 fastball that was launched off the bat of Longoria that was a no-doubted from the point of contact. Admittedly, Saito later shared with the press that the pitch that catcher Jason Varitek called was not the pitch that landed in the seats to end the game.
"Actually, [Jason Varitek] wanted something else, but I shook my head and decided myself to [throw a fastball]," said Saito.
In Francona's defense, you have to look at the big picture here. Saito was the last pitcher available in the Red Sox bullpen. Clay Buchholz was warming up in the bullpen and he is scheduled to start against the Yankees on Saturday. When you get deep into extra innings, with each inning that gets added on, the more you want to win, but again, you have to look at the big picture.
With a four-game series looming in the Bronx this weekend, Francona decided to take a gamble; a gamble in which he and his team lost. The Sox skipper went on to justify his decision to pitch to Longoria which makes perfect sense.
"We're getting into a situation where, at least with the open bases, we can maybe have some room to make some pitches," Francona said. "We back him into a bind, then you've got [Ben] Zobrist next. If you want to go all the way to the bases loaded, you're looking at a guy who's thrown 40 pitches. That's putting him in an unfair position. I wish the ball wouldn't have gone out. I don't think that would have been the right thing to do."
When asked if he was surprised that the Red Sox chose to pitch to him in that situation with first base open, Longoria responded by saying, "A little bit. I didn't want to go up there with the mind-set that I was going to give up the at-bat and concede the fact that they were gonna walk me or pitch around me. I've done that before and then I get out and I'm walking back to the dugout going, 'Why did I do that? Why wasn't I ready to hit?' It was in the back of my mind. I actually thought they might walk the bases loaded to get to Joe [Dillon] and give themselves an opportunity to get an out at every base. But I had to prepare myself the best I could to go up there and get a hit."
This one certainly stings, but the Sox will have to shake this loss off as soon as possible. In this brief two-game series, Boston will look to break even with the Rays on Wednesday before heading to New York for four.
Final Score: Red Sox 2, Rays 4 / 13 innings
Things you'll need to know to impress your friends:
Despite losing in crushing fashion, Kevin Youkilis is undoubtedly the hottest hitter on the team. After going 1-for-5 with a HR on Wednesday, Youkilis is hitting .533 (16-for-30) with 3 HR and 8 RBI in his last seven games.
After racking up 10 K's on Wednesday, Jon Lester notched his fifth game of the 2009 season with ten or more strikeouts. He's struck out ten twice, eleven twice and his career high of twelve once.
Thursday's pitching match-up:
In the final game of this two-game set, it's Brad Penny against David Price. Penny has not pitched well at Tropicana Field (0-2, 5.73 ERA) and his numbers against the Rays overall aren't much better (2-3, 5.06 ERA), but as far as 2009, Penny's numbers (7-5, 5.07 ERA) give him the slight advantage over Price (4-4, 5.10 ERA) in this match-up. Price will be making his first career start against Boston on Thursday.
Sox go deep three times in post-deadline victory By: Jared Carrabis
On the most exciting day of the regular season, the Red Sox made some noise in the front office and just hours later, they made some noise with their bats.
Making the trip down to Fenway South, Red Sox starter John Smoltz had a lot to prove. Not only to himself and to his teammates, but to the fans that support the name on the front of his jersey. Making his seventh start for Boston on Friday night, Smoltz had not only failed to win more than one game, he hadn't turned in a single performance worthy of being filed under a quality start.
Unfortunately for the veteran pitcher, that streak would continue. Smoltz had completed six innings just once for the Sox and aimed to do so against the worst team in the AL East, which he did. The only problem was that over the course of those six frames, the Hall of Famer-to-be served up two long balls (almost three) and departed from the game after allowing five earned runs.
"I feel like it's a blessing I haven't gone crazy yet," said Smoltz. "Again, words can't describe how frustrated and angry I am. I'm professional enough to know that I will go to work and get this where those zeroes show up just about every time I go out there."
In support of Smoltz, the Sox bats helped save the right-hander from dropping to 1-6 on the season. In the top of the second inning, Nick Green skied a sacrifice fly to plate Boston's first run.
In the top of the third, it was David Ortiz, again, to the rescue. With a man on, Ortiz got the green light with a 3-0 count and cranked a 4-seam fastball into the seats in right-center field.
I'm feeling good, man," said Ortiz. "I'm swinging the bat good. That's me, man. When I'm feeling it, I'm feeling it. That's how it goes."
It was a lead that Smoltz would relinquish in the bottom half after allowing a two-run shot to Ryan Reimold.
Two frames later, Jacoby Ellsbury would break a 3-3 tie by belting his sixth home run of the season for a solo shot to right. It was a lead short-lived, as Smoltz allowed a two-run bomb to Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Ellsbury singled as one of his three hits to put a man on first. On the night, Ellsbury remained to stay red-hot by going 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored, a stolen base and an RBI. Later in the inning, Kevin Youkilis belted his eighteenth home run of the season to put Boston on top 6-5.
But, getting back to Ellsbury, the Boston center fielder made a spectacular play in the bottom of the sixth, robbing Luke Scott of what would have been a solo home run. The play made SportsCenter's top 10 plays as number one, and certainly saved the game for the Sox. More or less, this night belonged to Ellsbury.
"I told him it's the best catch I've seen in a very, very long time," Smoltz said. "Obviously we can look back and say that was the game-winner."
Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima turned in a pair of no-hit innings to build the bridge to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. Once this contest got to the bottom of the ninth, Sox fans were treated to their second big surprise of the day after receiving Victor Martinez at the trade deadline, as Papelbon turned in a perfect 1-2-3 inning to record his 27th save of the season.
Final Score: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5
Things you'll need to know to impress your friends:
David Ortiz has now homered in both games since getting word of his name appearing on a 2003 positive performance enhancing drug test. His two-run shot on Friday night gave him 15 on the year. At this time last year, Ortiz had 17 home runs. Take into consideration that Ortiz missed significant time in 2008 with a wrist injury, the lefty slugger might as well have been on the DL the first two months of the season he was swinging the bat. Point: I think it's safe to say that he has revived his once miserable season. If you take a peak at his .231 batting average, it might not impress you, but give the man some credit. He's raised his average 46 points since it once sat as low as .185 on May 29-30.
Tommy Harper holds the Red Sox single season record for most steals in a single season with 54 in 1973. Through 94 games in 2009, Jacoby Ellsbury was swiped 47 bags and trails Harper's record by seven bags. With his next stolen base, Ellsbury will move into a three-way tie with Billy Werber and Tommy Harper himself for seventh most steals in Red Sox history with 107. If Ellsbury remains in Boston throughout the prime of his career, he has a shot to eclipse the Red Sox record of an even 300 steals set by the legendary Harry Hooper, who spent 12 seasons in Boston (1909-1920). Hooper's career high was 40 stolen bases in 1910. If Ellsbury remains consistent, he will blow past Hooper with ease.
Saturday's pitching match-up:
In the middle game of this series, Josh Beckett will get the ball. With a win in his last outing, the right-hander won his twelfth game of the season. Plagued by irritating injuries in 2008, Beckett had 12 wins all of the '08 campaign. In his career at Camden Yards, Beckett is 4-1 with a 3.47 ERA. His opponent, David Hernandez, has a 3-2 record with a highly respectable 3.20 ERA.
My input on the Victor Martinez acquisition:
I absolutely love this trade, and I'll tell you why. Martinez was signed as a 17-year-old and spent his entire career within the Indians' organization. We got our best look at him during the 2007 American League Championship Series, and what I saw from him goes beyond statistics. Not only is he a career .297 hitter in eight Major League seasons, not only is he a .313 hitter at Fenway Park with a .913 OPS, he is everything this organization wants in a player.
When the Red Sox defeated the Indians in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2007, tears came from his eyes. Why? Because he wants to win very badly. He had a personal handshake for every single player on the Tribe's roster. Why? Because the word "team" is of great importance to Victor Martinez. When Martinez got word that he had been traded to the Boston Red Sox, again, tears came from his eyes. Why? Because he is loyal. He's loyal to his teammates, he's loyal to his fans, and he's loyal to the organization that gave him a chance. He wanted to spend his entire career in a Cleveland Indians' uniform, but now that things have changed, Victor Martinez brings the will to win, team chemistry, leadership, loyalty and a booming bat with him to Boston, where he has a great chance to win that World Series that he has been longing for. That's why.
I'd also like to wish Justin Masterson the best of luck. He is a phenomenal talent and one of the most likeable guys in recent memory to ever enter the Red Sox clubhouse. The Tribe is very lucky to have a guy like Masterson walk through that clubhouse door on Saturday.
For SoxSpace's full coverage on the trade deadline, click HERE.
For all of the readers that have been patiently waiting the arrival of my book One Fan's Story: If This Hat Could Talk, I have some good news. The book went to print on Friday! From here, there's a good chance that the book will be ready to hit the shelves in about three weeks or so. I will keep you all posted!
And last, I am going on my first vacation since the summer of 2006 this weekend. I'll be New Hampshire bound 'til Tuesday and most likely won't be able to get to a computer to post any game updates. If I can get access to a laptop, I'll blog on the road, and if not, I'll be texting updates to my Twitter account as much as possible. Have a great weekend everyone!
A nightmare come true in Red Sox Nation By: Jared Carrabis
I never thought I'd have to cover this story, but here it is.
When Alex Rodriguez was named as one of the 104 names who tested positive for steroids in 2003, I didn't mock him. I was asked several times if I believed David Ortiz could possibly be named on that 2003 list; I wouldn't answer. When Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, I didn't rub it in. I work at Sully's Tees, who printed a shirt that reads "Manny Being Suspended", complete with a a syringe. Even though I could get the shirt for free, I wouldn't wear it. Again, I was asked, "Do you think Ortiz ever used steroids?" Again, I wouldn't answer.
Thursday was a day that, as a fan, I have feared for a long time. Why? Because deep down, I knew the truth. When the most hated man in pinstripes was named as a steroid user publicly, I did not take that time to bash him.
In fact, I said things like, "I always thought A-Rod was a pure talent. However, it seems as if though I am sadly mistaken" and "Although A-Rod is a member of our most hated rivals, file Saturday February 7, 2009 under a sad day for baseball." I said this for one simple reason: I love the game of baseball. I will support my team through thick and thin, but it hurts me even to see names that belong to the New York Yankees, especially a name as talented as A-Rod's, to be linked to performance enhancing drugs. So, you can only imagine the pain that I felt in my heart when I had first gotten word about David Ortiz's name appearing in a report posted by The New York Times.
I'm not here to make excuses for David, and neither is Ortiz himself. After winning the game for his team with a three-run homer in Boston's three-run victory, Ortiz released a statement in light of the report:
"I want to talk about this situation and I will as soon as I have more answers," said Ortiz. "In the meantime I want to let you know how I am approaching this situation. One, I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true. Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public. You know me - I will not hide and I will not make excuses."
It breaks my heart to think that the fans of our beloved game will look at our 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships as "tainted." In my opinion, if you release the names of the remaining one hundred or so players on that 2003 list, you can slap a "tainted" sticker on the last fifteen or so World Series titles.
I think fans these days are smart enough to know that baseball had a problem, a big problem. Sure, the names that have been released have all been big name sluggers (aside from Roger Clemens), but does anyone take into consideration that the pitchers that these sluggers were hitting tape measure shots off of were on the juice too? Again, I'm not making excuses, but we all have to take into account of the era that we all watched the game of baseball being played in over the past few seasons.
As I've said before, I'm a fan of the game of baseball before anything else. I'm getting tired of having to write about stories like these. We can't change the past, but there will come a day in the game of baseball where the word "steroid" is a distant memory.
I can't speak for every Red Sox fan out there, but I can assure you that the way I look at David Ortiz will not alter. I will still support him, cheer for him and pay to watch him play. I will still remember him for everything he has done to transform the Red Sox from a team who's clubhouse was so dysfunctional it could have been a reality TV show on VH1, to a clubhouse and an organization that the game's stars were lining up to play.
I won't sit here and tell you that it's OK because "everyone did it", because that's BS. The only one that can put something into your body is you. He made his decision and unfortunately, a dark cloud will forever loom over the two most significant moments in the history of the franchise. I'm disappointed and I'm frustrated that this dark cloud over the game that I love continues to block out the sun just when it seems like things have gotten back to normal within the game.
And for all of you fans out there who support teams other than the Red Sox, allow me to share one of my favorite quotes by Bob Marley before you go giving a Sox fan a hard time:
"Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect and I don't live to be, but before you start pointing fingers...make sure your hands are clean."
In other words, give Red Sox fans a hard time all you want right now, but one day, the rest of those names will be revealed, and you won't be doing much talking then, will you?
Good stuff Jared. I too was heart broken when I heard the news yesterday. I wanna hear what it is he took, but if it's something bad then I'll be looking at Papi in a different light. Until then, I'm a Papi supporter.
07/31/2009 1:04 PM
Years ago there were many who wondered how Ortiz was able to turn from low avg, low power Ortiz into the Mega Power known as BIG PAPI. Now they have ammo to say their guesses were right. I hope we find an alternative solution or else we will hear one story after another of how the 2004 and 2007 World Series were won on steroids. The headline will read, "The two largest contributers Manny and Ortiz, both on enhancements?" I don't want to hear it. ...View More...View Less
Nice Blog, I'm not gonna pass judgement until all the details are in. I'm not crucifying him if he used something that he bought at GNC. But If he has injected homones, well that might be different.
07/31/2009 8:56 AM
Sox drop another winnable game; a plead for Halladay By: Jared Carrabis
If Red Sox Nation were a house, I would kindly ask you to open a window to let some of this frustration out.
For the second time in two nights, the Red Sox suffered a frustrating loss at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. On Tuesday night, the Sox' bullpen had a meltdown that was capped off with a nightmarish three-run ninth that led to a two-run eleventh that sank the Sox. Less than 24 hours later, the frustration would resume, almost instantly.
With Brad Penny on the mound, Adam Kennedy built off of his career high five-hit night against Boston on Tuesday by launching the first pitch of the game over the Green Monster for a home run. A bases loaded double later in the inning by Rajai Davis brought all the green helmets home, as the A's provided themselves with a comfy five-run lead in the first.
"Tonight, they just beat us right from the get-go," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "There's really not much you can say about that. They played better than us. You can't really point fingers. Regardless of their record, they're winning games right now, and we're not."
Unfortunately for Boston, it seemed as if Mike Lowell was the only one who showed up to play in the third game of four in this series. With Ortiz out of the lineup to start the game, Lowell served as the team's DH, as manager Terry Francona aims to keep the Sox' third baseman's batteries charged for the stretch-run. With teammates Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis on base after a pair of walks, Lowell crushed a two-strike curveball to for his eleventh home run of the season to put the Sox back in the game.
In the top of the fifth, Kurt Suzuki tattooed a solo home run to left field to widen the gap to four runs. An Eric Patterson double in the top of the sixth inning plated two more runs for Oakland, as all Sox fans could do was shake their heads at their TV's. While I'm sure most fans were flipping back and forth to spy on the Yankees, who were playing the Tampa Bay Rays on ESPN, Oakland's increasing lead became more hurtful to look at after watching both Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira go deep behind Joba Chamberlain, who pitched the best game of his life.
The Sox got a run back in the seventh after Jacoby Ellsbury blazed his way into third base on his fifth triple of the season and later scored on a ground out by Dustin Pedroia. In the bottom of the very next inning, it was Mike Lowell driving in a run to bring the Sox within three runs. The Sox would bring the tying run to the plate in the form of David Ortiz, who would pinch hit for Jed Lowrie, but it was all for naught, as the mighty Ortiz skied a pop up into the heart of the infield.
The combination of Justin Masterson (2.0 IP), who's name has been thrown around in trade rumors, Takashi Saito (1.0 IP) and Ramon Ramirez (1.0 IP) kept the A's out of the run column, giving the Sox a chance to stage a comeback in the ninth.
In the ninth, it was none other than Mike Lowell doing some RBI damage by ripping a single back up the middle to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury, who was 2-for-4 with three runs scored in the leadoff spot. Painfully, JD Drew would ground out after Lowell's ninth inning RBI to end Boston's hopes of staying 2.5 back of the Bronx Bombers.
"We just can't put everything together," said Penny. "When we're pitching, we're not hitting and when we're hitting, we're not pitching, so I have to do a better job. I can't give up five in the first. We probably would have won that game if I hadn't."
Probably? Well, we lost 8-6. So, eight minus five is three, which means if you hadn't give up five in the first, then the Sox would have won 6-3. Sounds like definitely to me. Pardon my unprofessionalism; it's just the frustration talking.
Roy Halladay rumors:
So, we now look up at the Yankees and their 3.5 game lead. It is the first time the Sox have trailed the Yanks by that margin since May 18. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I am completely convinced that I must eat my words that I said earlier this month. I said that the Red Sox don't need Roy Halladay, which is true, but I also said that Roy Halladay "won't see the home dugout at Fenway."
Sure, the Red Sox don't need Halladay, but just take a look at this team right now. Most of these guys are familiar faces. Most of these guys have been there before, but what the Red Sox need right now is a major shake up. Sure, the Red Sox have had their fair share of success, but what this team needs is an injection of life back into their systems. That injection, is Roy Halladay.
If Theo pulls the trigger on a deal for Halladay, my ring size is a nine. If Epstein ponies up the chips to bring Halladay on board, teams around the league should start building for next season, because it would be all over. If I'm the manager of the team opposing the Red Sox in a best of five series come October, what in God's name does a man in that position say to their team to fire them up knowing that they get Josh Beckett in Game 1, Jon Lester in Game 2, and Roy bleepin' Halladay in Game 3. I'm standing there and I'm saying, "Well, we had a good season, boys. Go out there and try and get lucky."
Sure, Halladay and Beckett would enter free agency at the same time, but even if the Sox can't re-sign Halladay, would you be complaining if you had two World Series parades before Halladay could leave via free agency? I'm thinking it's worth it.
If Halladay comes on board here, you have guys like Jason Bay, and Halladay himself who are perennial All Stars, but have never come close to a World Series with their former rings. With Halladay on board, the Sox go from a team looking to "just win it again" to a team that is driven to win it for the guy sitting next to them. So, Theo: this team and this fan base could use a jolt back into our systems and we all know what acquiring Halladay could do for this team and this city. I'll say no more and let you do your job.
Things you'll need to know to impress your friends:
Jason Bay was 0-for-4 in Wednesday's loss as his abysmal July continues. I follow Red Sox beat writer Ian Browne on Twitter and he brought up an interesting debate. Who's slump is worse? The one David Ortiz suffered through the first two months of the season, or the one Jason Bay is currently dragging through right now.
Since May 13, Bay's batting average has plummeted from .319 to where it sits now at .251, it's lowest point since April 10. Bay hit .324 in April, .264 in May, .230 in June and with just two days left in July, he's hitting .203 with just 1 HR and 5 RBI all month long.
He expressed his frustration with his hitting woes after Wednesday night's loss by saying, "You watch video, you can try this, you can try that, but people don’t want to hear that. They want results and so do I." Certainly the motivation is there, and the Red Sox as well as their fans know that this team is going nowhere in October if his bat isn't back to where we all know it should be. It's only a matter of time before Bay gets hot and builds his numbers back up.
It doesn't matter what half of the season it is, before the All Star break his career batting average is .279 and after the break it's .279. However, in his career, Bay turns it on in the month of August, as he has a career batting average of .290 with 26 HR and 97 RBI in 141 August games.
Thursday's pitching match-up:
Jon Lester gets the ball in the series finale, as the Sox hope to split their four-game set against the A's. The left-hander has been spectacular after scuffling the first two months of the season. He has allowed no more than three earned runs in each of his last ten starts. Since May 31, Lester is 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 84 strikeouts. The Sox will once again be set up against a rookie southpaw in Gio Gonzalez, who is 2-2 with a 7.75 ERA in 2009.