With a loss to the Rangers, the Red Sox are now in second place in the American League East AND only a half a game ahead for the wild card. Of course, there are a lot of games left to be played, but did anyone see Boston having any point in this season where they weren't solidly in first for one of those two spots? What is happening here?
The Red Sox were valued so highly because their pitching was considered the best in baseball. But suddenly, the back end of the rotation is in tatters and the bullpen is struggling. The rotation was considered the deepest in baseball. But then Dice-K went down. Wakefield came up with a bad back. Brad Penny has showed that his Dodgers year last year wasn't a fluke. Masterson has come and gone. Smoltz has come and gone. And Jon Lester can't seem to get by the third ups of the line up. Beckett has been the sole standout and nobody saw that coming.
The Red Sox offense came up less than expected last year. And this year seems even worse. They have not gotten any offense at short. Their right-fielder has been a Stange Drew and last checked, was hitting below .250. The Ortiz saga has been well chronicled and though he has looked better in the last month, he's still batting .219. Pedroia isn't hitting with power like last year. Youkilis is having a good year by many standards except by his own. And Varitek?
Argue all you want, but the Red Sox captain has a higher slugging percentage than last year, but he's still hitting only .238. And on Friday night, the Rangers ran all over him and his pitchers to the tune of eight stolen bases. Eight! Without a single caught stealing in the mix. That's the second or third time this season that a team has run wild on old Tek. Either he isn't the defensive catcher (anymore at least) that he is supposed to be, or the pitching coach needs to teach his pitchers how to hold runners on. Oops. Just read a story that said the Bay Rays had eight stolen bases against the Red Sox (and Varitek) on May 3, and these same Rangers had six thefts on July 22.
Friday night, the Red Sox pitchers gave up 17 base runners in eight innings of work. And once they were ahead, the Rangers brought in new whiz kid, Neftali Feliz, and the Red Sox had no defense against him. The Red Sox are suddenly like Superman after exposure to Kryptonite. Lois better get that stuff away from them soon.