Red Sox Brush Their Teeth and Head to Bed

“If a season falls in Tampa and only 22,000 people are there to hear it, does it make a noise?”

Well, that should just about do it. You can now turn out the lights and brush your teeth because the 2010 Boston Red Sox season is exhausted and ready for bed. I was hoping it would stay awake long enough to see September. And in a better case scenario, I was hoping for a Sunday or three where the Sox and Pats competed for my attention. But given last night, this weekend and really, the past ten weeks, it now looks the Sox will do very little next month but trot home and finish out of the money.

Last night’s Ambien-heavy cocktail was served by none other than John Lackey who proved once again that he can’t face a good lineup and exit the game without first allowing five runs. And once again, we had to hear John bemoan the fact that he pitched better than his suggests: “I’m still trying to figure it out, for sure. I felt way too good to give up five runs,’’ Lackey said. “I gave up probably three hard-hit balls all night. They pretty much maximized the damage they could get.’’

Three hard hit balls all night? Who is he kidding? First off, two of those balls combined to go almost 900 feet. Longoria rifled one to right-center that almost took out a manatee. Crawford laced one in the first that meets any definition of the word “hard.” And the single to put Tampa up 4-3 was nutted. I guess under Lackey’s definition of “hard,” someone has to yell “fore” or it doesn’t qualify.

I will have more to say on Lackey later on but suffice to say, last night was just another disappointment in a season that has been highlighted by a giant heap of underperformance. Yes, he is being paid to win games like last night but he is also being paid to have months where he doesn’t give up five runs on four separate occasions, as has been the case in August. And I’m not sure what is more grating …. Having to watch Lackey get smoked or having to listen to his lame excuses.

Now Lackey gets the lions’ share of the blame for relinquishing last night’s 3-1 lead, but let’s not let the offense completely off the hook either. Case in point, the Sox had scored two in the fourth and were ready to carve up Big Game James Shields, with runners on first and second and one out. But “Big Game JD” came up small for about the 19th time this month and Victor then struck out looking. With that, the Sox missed a big opportunity to stake Lackey to a lead that he probably could have handed off safely to Bard. And once the Sox fell behind, it was all over as time after time, the Sox were unable to do anything with Tampa’s pen. That should come as no surprise as it has been happening all year but familiarity doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

So the Sox now head for Baltimore and the thirty least meaningful games the club has played since 2006. I’ll still watch. And I’ll still have plenty to say. But for all intents and purposes, this post is the proverbial towel and it is now lying in the middle of the ring. A formal eulogy will come in October and I’ll have plenty to say before then, but suffice to say, the Sox are ready to hibernate. And short of a 7.5 earthquake, this bear looks ready for a good sleep.


* Heading into August, I thought it was critical that JD Drew heat up but he has been a huge disappointment outside of a brief power surge. And since that surge ended on August 13, Drew has been putrid, hitting just .178 and slugging a puny .244. I held out hope that Drew would make it to the finish line of his five-year in one piece but given his second-half, one has to be worried about Drew’s contribution in 2011.

* David Ortiz had three hits the other night but since August 19th, he has experienced a power outage. And while he is slugging a passable .888 this month, he curiously has only driven in eight runs since July 31. The Sox needed more from Papi in August.

* Darnell McDonald is a gift that just keeps on giving. Last night’s throw to beat Pena was McDonald’s seventh assist of the season and it mixes quite well with that .780 OPS. I hope the Sox find a way to bring this guy back as a fifth outfielder.

* Was it just me or did it seem like the Sox were way too passive last night? Shields threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 28 batters he faced and it seemed like 17 or 18 of these were looking. And just look at his splits after he is 0-1 versus 1-0  ….. Batting average against ….. .212 v .301.

* Surprise of the night ….. that Okajima actually got a big out off Carl Crawford. No surprise that Longo followed with the big insurance hit.

FARM REPORT: Ryan Lavarnway hit right out of the box when he was bumped from A to AA and then went into the tank early this month, seemingly going hitless for about two weeks. But the catcher has erupted over his last ten games, slashing .414/.585/1.034 and his Portland stats are now comfortably in the “impressive” category. Yes, he just turned 23 and there are guys from his draft who are already in major league lineups.  But those guys have names like Alvarez, Smoak, Brett Wallace and Ike Davis. And aside from Alvarez, who crushed at Altoona, and maybe Davis, none of these guys really outperformed Lavarnway at AA.  This guy may be a year behind, but has proven he can hit. Now the problem is finding him a position because it doesn’t sound as if he is the best catcher in the world. That being said, he is probably the best RH bat in the Sox system right now and it would seem like the time is ripe to see if this guy can play some 3B.


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