Yankees 9, Red Sox 1
If ever there was a team that was at once leading the wild card and at one of their lowest points of the season, it's the 2011 Boston Red Sox.
Up two games on the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox cannot look past the travesty that just occured on the baseball diamond. Their slumping ace just turned in an outing of less than three innings with eight earned runs to his name, their offense was nearly blanked by one of the pitchers they had hit very hard throughout the year, and the defense wasn't particularly hot either.
Oh, yeah, and this was at the hands of their greatest rival who lacked any sort of motivation beyond said rivalry. Meanwhile, the Sox fight for a playoff spot.
Lester started out looking surprisingly strong considering how badly his day would end, striking out Curtis Granderson as part of a ten-pitch first. But just four batters into the second and the bases were loaded. Lester fell behind Jesus Montero 3-0, threw a strike, and then another. Montero hit the second one through the hole between second and third, bringing one run around. A flair to left from Russell Martin would bring in two more when in clanked off Carl Crawford's glove as he entered an awkward slide, making it 3-0. Derek Jeter quickly doubled the deficit, launching the first pitch he saw over the short porch in right for a three-run shot, effectively ending the game in the second.
Lester would leave with just two outs recorded in the third after giving up another pair of runs, and while the bullpen would allow just one more run the rest of the way, Boston's offense was not up to the task of bringing runs in. While Carl Crawford would pick up the team's only RBI with a double in the seventh, his new place in the second spot didn't exactly pay off as he stranded four other batters. The only greater offender was David Ortiz, who left five on in an 0-for-4 performance.
All-in-all, a terrible way to spend a Saturday.
Three For The Road
Fear The Sweep
The Red Sox have to be hoping desperately for Tampa Bay to lose one of their next two games, because they'll be heading into Sunday with Tim Wakefield and John Lackey scheduled to take the mound against the New York Yankees. With a sweep at the hands of the Yankees now looking downright likely, the Rays would pull into a tie for the wild card lead with wins against Toronto Saturday and Sunday.
Shuffled Lineup Doesn't Pay Dividends
As mentioned above, the shuffled lineup didn't exactly work in its first appearance Saturday night. A 1-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position left the Sox with nine stranded baserunners at the end of the day. That being said, the batting order might not be so much the problem as just the ability to get clutch hits. Dustin Pedroia was 2-for-4 on the day, but only one of the four men left on by Carl Crawford came with two outs while in scoring position., while David Ortiz left two on that way while batting in his usual spot.
A Banner Day For The Bullpen
It's amazing how, when there's no chance of winning, the Boston bullpen is able to produce out after out. Scott Atchison threw two strong innings, and was joined by Trever Miller and Michael Bowden with scoreless outings. Only Junichi Tazawa gave up a run, and that was on a homer--the only baserunner he allowed in 1.2 innings of work.
Up Next -- Sunday, 1:05 p.m. | Tim Wakefield (7-7, 5.08 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (10-11, 5.28)
Avert your eyes and hide your children, because this one could get very, very ugly.