Sunday, August 09, 2009

What the hell happened?

I said on Twitter a few days ago "Next 6 games are huge for the Sox - 2 at the Trop, then 4 in the Bronx. I'll be happy with 3-3, thrilled with anything better." Now I'll be pleased if we can just salvage one out of four in New Yankee Stadium.

This is really starting to resemble the 2006 collapse, except without Manny's "bad knee". The pitching, for the most part, hasn't been bad. The two extra-inning games were winnable with some timely hitting, and Saturday's game could have been won as well if they could have scored a few runs (although C.C. Sabathia might have had something to do with that.) Here's what's really gone wrong:
  • Injuries: Jason Bay, Rocco Baldelli, Tim Wakefield, Jed Lowrie, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Mike Lowell is playing, but certainly doesn't have the mobility he used to. Losing these guys certainly isn't helping. It also makes you end up with situations like Kevin Youkilis playing left field, which is far from his best spot.
  • John Smoltz: It was sad to see the great Smoltz walk off the mound after having absorbed another beating at the hands of the Yankees. He just doesn't have it any more. I don't think Theo had any choice but to designate him for assignment, but you hate to see a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Famer go out like that.
  • No clutch hitting (or hitting of any kind): A big hit in the two extra inning games, and we're looking at 2-3 on the trip and not 0-5. It's now 26 innings and counting since the Red Sox scored a run, as I write this.
  • Starting pitching depth: Remember when we were all wondering what the Sox were going to do with all that pitching? Other than Beckett and Lester, the rest of them are either injured (Wake, Daisuke) or inconsistent (Buchholz, Penny). The Sox are starting Junichi Tazawa on Tuesday night, the guy who gave up the game winner to A-Rod on Friday. Tazawa has exceeded expectations in Pawtucket and Portland, but this is a 23-year-old who pitched in the Japanese Industrial League last year.
  • The Papi Distraction: The whole thing with David Ortiz appearing on The List couldn't have come at a worse time. If nothing else, it's certainly had an impact on Papi, as he has been in a terrible slump.
  • The bullpen: This really isn't their fault, as the 'pen has come up big several times on this trip, but these guys have got to be beat up. The long, extra-inning games and the early exits by some starters have led to the Sox having to use the likes of Tazawa, Billy Traber and Enrique Gonzalez in the late innings.
We're now at 28 straight innings without a run. Let's hope this ends soon.


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