The Red Sox’ Wheezing Engine Finally Gives Out

That sound you heard last night was an engine conking out, starved for petrol. Running on fumes for the past week, the Sox engine finally ran out of gas last night when Kevin Youkilis had to be lifted in the fourth inning for Numan Romero. As such, the Sox played the last six innings with a leftfielder, centerfielder, pitcher, catcher and first baseman who weren’t even on the team six weeks ago. Throw in a reserve at second and that may have been the most patchwork lineup I have ever seen the Red Sox field outside of the Spring openers against Northeastern and Boston College.

Folks, injuries are a part of the game. But this has gone so far past “ridiculous” that we passed “ludicrous” and now find ourselves waiting in line to enter the “Theatre of the Absurd.” An all-star gets hurt kicking some dirt last night, nine guys on the opening day roster are already on the DL, a tenth is nursing a bad back and may wind up on the DL this afternoon, another guy on the off-season forty-man roster has been out FOUR months with mono, a pitcher who figured to be called up early this year had to have season ending elbow surgery, and the club’s top everyday prospect had some brain malformation and may never play again. For the love of GOD, this team is in worse shape than my mom was in 2006 and she had what is one of the two or three worst things ever confronted by modern medicine. When is it going to FUCKING STOP!?!

It turns out that Youkilis only had some cramping in his ankle and he will be good to go tonight, at least until the “other shoe” falls on said ankle. So that is the good news. But the bad news is, upon his exit last night, the Sox played an important game blindfolded and with one arm tied behind their back. The net result was another gut-wrenching one-run loss to Tampa where the Rays identified and feasted upon the sickest member of the Boston herd.

That sick animal was Numan Romero (NEWMAN!) and Tampa manager Joe Maddon had him marked from the second he picked up a bat. Three times, in a tight game, Maddon intentionally walked David Ortiz to get to Romero. And in each instance, a runner was already in base. In fact, in the ninth, Maddon risked put the winning runner on second just to get another crack at Numan. For a moment there, Ortiz must have felt like Barry Lamar Bonds circa 2004.

Unfortunately, Romero did not have a Darnell McDonald or Daniel Nava moment in his bat and each time he went down weekly. I realize Romero has done plenty in his baseball life to get to this point and given a hundred chances, he is probably going to succeed 16-19 times but he looked completely overwhelmed last night. And as much as Maddon annoys me for his nickel and diming, he did the right thing. Hey, it’s not his fault the Sox are sick. But since they are, he exploited their weakness and in doing so, he locked up a cheap but important win. Other Points:

*There really isn’t a whole lot else to say about last night. Felix Doubront pitched pretty well and managed to escape a couple of jams. His command wasn’t great but he did his job and got the Sox into the sixth with a shot to win. I like the kid and think he has a nice future ahead, especially if he can develop a little more movement on his fastball. I’m not sure he really projects as a late-season bullpen solution but I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he could step in for Matsusaka next year.

*Two more hits for Nava and I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he could be the Sox fourth outfielder next year.

*Scott Atchison stepped up and pitched a solid seventh. You might laugh, but Atchison is quickly moving up the ladder. He surely has passed Oki-san, who probably is headed to the DL, and I think he has reeled Ramon Ramirez in and is ready to pass him on the inside. So come this weekend in Toronto, Scott Atchison may find himself as the new seventh inning guy. Not bad for a guy who barely made the team out of Spring Training.

*I have to say all the post-game back-slapping from the Tampa announcers and Rafael Soriano and Carl Crawford really rubbed me the wrong way. Soriano, in particular, has an act that is difficult to stomach. To think that Tampa has accomplished ANYTHING the past two nights against McHale’s Navy is laughable. Two one-run wins over a MASH unit, with the pitching stacked in your favor, is hardly worth celebrating. Guys, you have won too much since 2008 to act like first-timers.

* What was with that crowd last night? 19K for Boston? I know they are winning but if you can’t sell 30K tickets at $15-20 apiece for the Sox, then perhaps you don’t deserve a baseball team.

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