The Blue Jays sent the Red Sox to their fourth loss in five games Monday afternoon as Brett Lawrie broke a scoreless tie in the eleventh inning with a walkoff homer.
The first three innings passed relatively uneventfully. Josh Beckett escaped a bit of early trouble by way of the strikeout, and Henderson Alvarez kept the Sox quiet the first time through the lineup. Then, with two outs in the fourth, things went suddenly wrong, as Josh Beckett sprained his ankle on a 1-2 pitch to Brett Lawrie.
Alfredo Aceves would come in to replace Beckett for the next 3.2 innings, providing a strong relief outing, but the need to bring in the long reliever so early would come back to haunt the Sox later in the game because, for some reason, the Boston offense just could not score. An 0-for-8 performance with RISP ended up leaving 10 men on base. And when it wasn't stranded baserunners, it was big defensive plays from the Jays. DeWayne Wise, for instance, robbed Carl Crawford of a ninth inning double that would've resulted in their first run of the game given Josh Reddick's follow-up extra base hit.
One way or another, though, the Sox were left without a run through nine, and then through ten, and then through eleven. With Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon having been called on to pitch the ninth and tenth innings, with Papelbon loading the bases in the process before escaping his frame, the Sox were forced to turn to Dan Wheeler for the eleventh. While Wheeler would record the first couple of outs quickly, the last one would never come. Brett Lawrie received a 1-1 pitch he could hit, and absolutely destroyed it, hitting a no-doubter into the stands in dead center for a walkoff home run.
Three For The Road
The Impact Of Beckett
Josh Beckett's sprained ankle was the best and worst news of the day. While any injury is frightening, especially one to the ace of the team, when Beckett came up lame after a seemingly innocuous pitch, the possibility of losing him to something much worse seemed very real.
It's very likely that Josh Beckett will miss a start or two over the next few weeks, but the good news is that a sprained ankle seems unlikely to put the playoffs at risk. Without him, the top three spots suddenly include John Lackey, with the fourth spot being an absolute grab bag.
The 6-2 run against the Royals and Rangers seems to have been a blip on the mediocre radar. Starting from August 1, the Red Sox have gone just 16-15 over their last 31 games.While the team is perfectly capable of backing its way into the playoffs--a .500 record from here would still leave Tampa and/or Los Angeles needing to play something like .750 ball to catch up--it would be nice to see them actually taking games with some reasonable consistency again. Until they do, Sox fans can't feel too terribly comfortable about how things are going.
How well would a team with a pitching staff of 12 Alfred Aceves perform? It seems like he's almost always capable of popping in and throwing three innings at a Beckett or Lester level. The Sox do seem to have some middle relief issues, but for any given game, Alfredo Aceves can carry more than his fair share of the burden.
Red Sox MVP -- Alfredo Aceves
As mentioned above, he came in when the Sox were at their lowest and picked them up off the ground. Too bad that the offense couldn't put up a single run in support. For once, Aceves was denied a well-earned win instead of taking one.
Up Next -- Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. | Jon Lester (14-6, 3.05 ERA) vs. Luis Perez (3-2, 3.77 ERA)
It would be nice to say that, with Jon Lester on the mound, the Red Sox should be looking at an easy win against the inexperienced rookie the Jays will throw out. Unfortunately, the Sox lineup just showed it could be shut down by not just a rookie, but one hailing from Double-A. With the lefty Perez going tomorrow, well, who knows?