These days, it is simple for baseball writers to craft game recaps about the Boston Red Sox. Just use a template, and change the names to fit the respective night.
It’s a template that includes a starting pitcher who cannot hold down the opposing lineup and get key outs, a lineup that fails to deliver timely hits, defense that does not make the plays and a lack of fundamentals that resembles something you typically see in Little League.
Last night, Josh Beckett was the pitcher who did not get the job done. For the second consecutive start against the last place Baltimore Orioles, Beckett served up six runs and blew a lead. And, once again, much of the Red Sox lineup – including poster boys Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez – disappeared when it mattered most. Sprinkle in a missed catch by Jacoby Ellsbury that resulted in a three-run inside the park home run from Robert Andino and a missed tag at the plate by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the template for last night’s 6-3 loss is complete.
With the Rays’ win over the Yankees, the Red Sox and Tampa Bay are tied for the wild card lead with two games remaining. Boston sends the often-injured Erik Bedard to the mound tonight and the no longer reliable Jon Lester to the hill on Wednesday while the Rays have Jeremy Hellickson and David Price slated to start in their games against the Yankees, which are resting most of their key players in preparation for the ALDS.
If the Sox somehow manage to win their last two games, and the Rays do what is expected and defeat the Yankees, the teams will meet in a one-game playoff on Thursday at Tropicana Field. Boston’s pitching situation is so desperate that Terry Francona would have to start John Lackey on three days of rest, or opt for another pitiful arm like Tim Wakefield.
At 6-19 in September, the Red Sox have created their own problems. ESPN’s John Kruk told WEEI today that the Sox will not make the playoffs because they have no pitching. It is hard to argue his point. Even with Beckett and Lester, the Red Sox do not have a dependable starting pitcher. They have the look of a team that is defeated, and up and down the roster is a group of players who are the biggest collection of underachievers Major League Baseball has seen in a long time.