Thursday, September 20, 2007
The wheels have come off!
I don't want to overreact, but this looks pretty bad. The Yankees have made up five games in six days narrowing the lead to just a measly game and a half. Boston has matched it's longest losing streak of the year at four and hope to break out of it with an off day followed by a series in Tampa Bay.
I don't want to overstate the seriousness of this. The Red Sox are still in a strong position to make the playoffs with their magic number at 3 against the Tigers and the Red Sox are bound to come out of this funk and the Yankees are also bound to cool off at some point. There are worse places to be than a game and a half up with 9 games left to play. It's also worth noting that the sox won't be playing a single game against a team above .500 or in playoff contention, not that the yankees will either.
This is still a serious cause for concern. There is now officially nobody you can trust in the Red Sox bullpen. Papelbon's implosion against the Yankees doesn't look like just a bad day anymore. It probably didn't matter as the sox went down in order in the ninth anyways, but Papelbon giving up the grand slam killed any chance of a rally. Terry is wisely resting Okajima, but who knows if this will do the trick. Mike Timlin looked anything but sharp last night against the Jays as he hit a batter, and allowed two walks (one intentional) to load the bases for Papelbon to give up the big hit. Eric Gagne? I'm not even going to touch this one.
The offense has also really struggled as of late. Last night's game Jesse Litsch allowed two hits (including the solo HR by JD Drew that accounted for the one run of sox offense) over 6 2/3 IP. This is pathetic. This is the same guy the Red Sox scored 7 runs off of in 3 1/3 IP on September 3rd. Some of this has to do with Manny Ramirez's extended absence from the sox lineup, but this dismal performance against a pitcher who is mediocre at best suggests something more.
The whole offense seems to be slumping. Jason Varitek is 4 for 34 in his last ten games, two of which came in the 3-4 loss to Toronto tuesday night. Mike Lowell was 2 for 11 over the course of the Toronto series. David Ortiz went from red hot to ice cold with one hit in his last 14 at bats. I think it's pretty clear that he's hurting again, and the sox no longer have the luxury of giving him time off with Manny still out of the lineup. Dustin Pedroia is 4 for 26 in the last 6 games. I doubt these slumps will continue, and what better place to break out of a slump then against Tampa Bay late in the season after a day's rest, but it's still a cause for concern. Keep in mind, even if the sox manage to blow the AL East, they have all but clinched a playoff spot through the wild card and the playoffs is an excellent place to find redemption.