I received this e-mail from Red after the horrific Dice-K/Wakefield duet on Saturday:
Man, this might be their worst year since we started the blog.
Then the O’s completed the sweep in true nuts-against-the-cheese-grater fashion, and I realized Red might be onto something. The flaws being exposed are beginning to outweigh any of the glass-half-full scenarios. And as much as it pains me to say this, Tito’s decisions are becoming a big part of the problem.
Yesterday, the Sox had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth when Tek drew a walk and McDonald sacrificed him to second. A man in scoring position with one out…I’m thinking pinch runner. For everything the Captain does for us, he runs like he’s pulling an anchor and wearing lead boots. Instead, Tito uses Martinez (4 for his last 26) as a pinch-hitter and Victor doesn’t even advance the runner. Tek ended up being thrown out at the plate by 10 feet to end the inning while the red-hot JD Drew (8 for his last 26) stood on deck.
When the Sox failed to score in the top of the inning, Beckett should have started pitching the bottom of the eighth in a tie game. He’d only thrown 104 pitches and had cruised through the seventh. Tito went with one of the only two guys he seems to trust in the bullpen (and isn’t that a problem?) and brought in Bard. He barely survived the inning and Francona went to Papelbon in the ninth. Bringing in the closer in a tie game on the road makes no sense to me. First, the Sox had the bottom of the order coming up and scoring in the top of the tenth was an unlikely possibility. Second, even if they did score Papelbon has proven he is not a two-inning pitcher. And he proved it again yesterday.
Quotes in the Boston Herald show a team in disarray:
“Everyone thought Baltimore was three easy wins and we got our ass kicked three times,” Pedroia seethed. “We’re going to have to play a lot better, especially against those teams. And soon.”
“Things haven’t really changed,” Epstein said. “We talked about this last week. We’re still playing bad baseball. Unintelligent, undisciplined, uninspired baseball. It’s got to change.
“It either changes itself or we have to do something to change it.”
The Sox now find themselves seven games behind Tampa and five-and-a-half behind the Yankees. Just like last year, the Rays will fade back where they belong and the Yankees will be the team to beat. But the Red Sox have a long way to go before they can think about competing for the division. They’ve pissed away the first month of the season and the first weekend in May showed no signs of them turning things around.
The “it’s only April” argument is gone, this season could be over in the next few weeks if the Sox don’t figure this out.