That should just about seal the Red Sox fate. Already reeling, the Sox got hit with a devastating right cross yesterday just as the season’s eighth round was coming to close. I’m no doctor, but judging from the description of Kevin Youkilis’ thumb, it now sounds an awful lot like the first baseman’s season is over.
Without Youkilis, the Sox simply don’t have enough fuel to combust and combustion is what the Sox need to get back into this race. With just a third of the season remaining, limping along is no longer an option. But without Youkilis, who is unquestionably the best bat in the lineup, the Sox just don’t have enough firepower to reel off a long winning streak.
Yeah, they can still beat the Indians, as they did last night. But BEST case, Youkilis will miss this entire ten-game road trip ahead – New York, Toronto and Texas – and without his bat, it doesn’t seem possible that the Sox will be able launch acredible assault on either New York or Tampa.
Now getting Jacoby Ellsbury back today will help and the re-opening of the Laser Show next week will be huge. Moreover, having a serviceable Mike Lowell around is fortuitous. But the return of Pedroia and Ellsbury were intended to be additive. Instead, they have become substitutes for Youkilis and thus the Sox remain a step behind where they need to be.
I hate to say it, but the Sox season really tipped over on this news. A playoff run was unlikely to begin with but now, it seems almost impossible. Sure, they have some pitching advantages this weekend and if they can win two more from the Indians this week and two from the Yanks over the weekend, they would still have a pulse. But that is only under a scenario that Youkilis is coming back relatively quickly. And folks, that doesn’t sound too likely.
It gives me no pleasure to say this, but this “bridge” season doesn’t look like it will lead anywhere. And that is a frustrating admission coming with 56 games to play. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching. There are still some interesting storylines in play such as, how do the kids develop down the stretch? Do Buchholz and Lester finish off their great starts? Can Ellsbury re-establish his value? Questions such as these still need answers so I will be paying attention. That being said, I have missed just three games this season and was probably headed for 152 views in 2010. Now ….. I am lowering my viewing estimate to 148.
As for last night, well, it was full of good stuff. I already got to the Lowell stuff in an earlier post as that moment couldn’t wait. And behind that, we had a great outing from Beckett, a near fight, two more knocks from Kalish and Billy Hall’s twelfth dong on the season. None of that tempers the loss of Youkilis but at least nothing cropped up last night to exacerbate the pain. I guess we’ll have to wait for the weekend for that to happen.
* Yes, it was against a terrible offense that just lost one of its bigger sticks. But Josh Beckett was terrific last night. Eight economical innings. NO WALKS. Eight Ks and just three hits. I know the competition has been pretty weak but Beckett has thrown well since coming back. (Just five ER, 13 hits and 4 walks over 21.1 innings) I’m under no illusion that he will be able to repeat last night in his next start against the Yankees but he seems back to a place where he should be able to hold his own.
* Terry Francona likens Ryan Kalish to Trot Nixon and I am not sure that is a fair comp. The reason being …. Kalish can hit lefties, something Trotter never really excelled at. The season may be headed nowhere but I am excited to see what Kalish can do over these next two months.
* Some of them have been meaningless, but Bill Hall now has twelve bombs in just 211 at bats. Since June 1, Hall has actually been a pretty good player. He may not be in Boston next year but he will be somewhere.
* I love this little editorial nugget from the globe’s Pete Abraham this morning: “With Youkilis likely to miss at least three weeks, Lowell will get ample playing time provided his hip holds up.” Abraham loves to play doctor and I would be curious to hear how he settled on “at least three weeks” for his diagnosis. Clearly, that number didn’t come for the Red Sox, Youkilis or any doctor. My hunch says Youkilis is either out for a short period or it’s the season, with the caveat that it could be ANYTHING in between, and that includes 15 days. I guess Abraham, with his background in hand physiology, is better equipped to take “fifteen days” out of the equation.
* FARM REPORT: It was a clean sweep for the affiliates last night as the farm went 5-0. Included in there was a well-pitched game for Lowell, a comeback for Greenville, Josh Reddick stayed white hot, and Portland went nuts. But the big name last night was Anthony Rizzo, who went 4-5 with three doubles for the Sea Dogs. Rizzo is just scorching right now and people sometimes forget this is just a twenty year-old and one who missed a full year with Cancer. So that makes him young for AA and extremely young when his missed year is considered. That being said, his post-break OPS is now .915, his BB:K ratio is improving, and it looks like he is headed for a big finish. Lars Anderson may have the bigger name, but to these eyes, it looks like Rizzo is the one with a future in Boston.