On August 17, 2006 the Sox were a game-and-a-half out of first in the AL East. The next day, a 5-game showdown with the first-place Yankees began. When the dust settled and the wounds were still fresh the Sox were six-and-a-half out and on a downward spiral that would eventually land them 11 games out and in third place.

Today Red Sox Nation sits on the precipice of a sickening repeat of history. The Sox haven’t scored a run in 24 innings, and the last runs they scored were against Anthony Claggett in the ninth inning of a blow-out…so they shouldn’t even count.

To say there is pressure on Jon Lester tonight is an understatement of epic proportions. Beckett and Buchholz pitched their asses off to no avail, and Lester has to do the same just to give the Sox a chance. Because the once-mighty bats are in a funk and showing no signs of coming out of it.

Jason Bay continues to nurse “cramps” and force Tito to play Youk in left – a move that didn’t work out so well yesterday. Remember the outrage when Manny had hammy issues? I haven’t heard a critical word against Bay…yet. Drew has been in the line-up most days, though the hit column doesn’t show any value. Tek? Done. He hasn’t hit in years and hasn’t thrown out a runner since the Clinton administration.

The success of the offense rests squarely on the shoulders of Youk, Pedroia, Lowell and Ellsbury. And while I ramble…why did Mikey sit picking splinters out of his ass in a 15-inning game in which one big hit might have won it? While Tek went 0-for-6?

Yes, I bitch and whine…but still I have faith. Lester can keep these bats quiet…especially in a stadium where lefty batters named Damon can hit 20 homers. And my bold prediction: Ortiz will be the hero. His mind cleared after his press conference yesterday and a good night’s sleep with his woobie (points skyward in tribute to John Hughes), Ortiz will remind everyone why he is Big Papi.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear D.O. make the call. The ESPN dynamic duo will be broadcasting this evening. Between A-Rod and Jeter tongue-baths…they might even talk about what’s happening on the field.

The Red Sox will win. Because they have to.