Rays 9, Red Sox 1
It's happened: the Red Sox have been swept by the Rays, and now must face the reality that their wild card spot is suddenly in jeopardy.
With Jon Lester on the mound, the Sox had their best shot of the series to take a game off of the Rays. But instead of his usual ace-type stuff, Lester showed up to the game running on empty. For the second straight game, the Sox found themselves facing a bases-loaded, zero outs situation in the first. Lester would not escape as easily as Kyle Weiland before him, however, surrendering three runs in the frame on singles from Ben Zobrist and Casey Kotchman, as well as a sacrifice fly from Sean Rodriguez.
While Marco Scutaro's solo shot in the third put the Sox on the board, the Sox went 0-for-2 with the bases loaded, leaving them down by two when the Rays came to the plate in the bottom of the frame, and by three when Lester immediately returned the run by giving up a leadoff triple to Johnny Damon.
Of course, all those runs meant an inflated pitch count for Lester, which meant his departure from the game after just four innings--a terribly disappointing outing from one of the Sox' best when they needed him most.
From there, it was the bullpen's game to turn from a close contest into an ugly blowout. Today, the honors went to Michael Bowden and Matt Albers. The former loaded the bases in the fifth with two outs, and with the latter inexplicably called into the situation he had not managed to escape from only a few days ago, the results were all too predictable. B.J. Upton got ahead 2-0, got a pitch to hit, and turned it into a grand slam. Just like that, it was 8-1 and the Red Sox entered panic mode.
Three For The Road
A Much Needed Day Off
The good news is that, if the Sox can actually start playing like they should for the last 16-or-so games, then staving off the Rays with a 3.5 game handicap already on their side shouldn't be terribly difficult, even with a bit of a banged up starting rotation.
The bad news is that just because they get the day off doesn't mean they'll manage to regroup for their 10-game homestand.
Morales For The Middle Innings?
Amazingly, Franklin Morales has actually been pretty good with the Sox so far. While it's not enough of a sample size to really begin to suggest improvement on the whole, playing the "hot hand" in Albers worked right up through last month, and the Sox don't exactly have anyone better to use. I never would have imagined it a few months ago, but it seems like the lefty from Colorado will be making the playoff roster and the righty from Baltimore will not.
Oh, Right, Panic Time
The Red Sox were 3-10 thirteen games into the season. That means they've been playing no better these last two weeks than they did to start the year. These are the April Red Sox right now, and it's them we're relying on to take the team into the postseason.
Red Sox MVP -- No, seriously, not until they win again.
Up Next -- A merciful day off, and then Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. vs. Toronto Blue Jays | Tim Wakefield (6-6, 5.04 ERA) vs. Brandon Morrow (9-10, 5.12 ERA)
Remember this matchup? It was the heartbreaker which started this terrible five-game losing streak. Excited for a rematch? I know I am!