Boston Red Sox: Will Middlebrooks' Injury Latest Blow to Boston's Psyche

Tom FitzContributor IIIMay 9, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MAY 6: Will Middlebrooks #64 of the Boston Red Sox rounds first base after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park May 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles won the game 9-6 in extra innings. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Take the second-inning performance the Red Sox had against the Kansas City Royals on May 8 and apply it to the entirety of the 2012 Boston Red Sox season.

Do that and you will have the story of Boston's season in the snapshot of a single inning. Right when things start to look good, the you-know-what hits the fan.

The first inning was smooth enough. David Ortiz continued his assault on American League pitching with a double, and Daniel Bard cruised through an easy 1-2-3 inning.

Then came the top of the second inning. Will Middlebrooks doubled off Kansas City southpaw Danny Duffy, but Middlebrooks was seen grimacing in pain as he rounded first base.

Middlebrooks took third on a Marlon Byrd single. He continued to grimace in pain at third. Red Sox Nation held its breath. This young sparkplug for Boston’s lineup didn’t seem right.

Middlebrooks has been on fire since joining Boston. He has given the Red Sox just what they need. Going into Tuesday’s game, Middlebrooks was batting .381, with three home runs and nine RBI.

Middlebrooks eventually scored on a Kelly Shoppach RBI double, but Middlebrooks was taken out of the game in the bottom of the second inning.

According to WEEI, Middlebrooks left the game with a hamstring injury. The injury could be as minor as simple cramping, but he was not able to play for the rest of the night.

The most exciting current Red Sox player, the player giving Red Sox fans hope, was sitting in the clubhouse nursing a sore hamstring.   

The Red Sox fragile psyche took a blow with the Middlebrooks injury, even if the injury proves to be minor.

This situation has been no stranger to the 2012 Red Sox. They lost Andrew Bailey to a thumb injury before the regular season started. Carl Crawford was placed on the 60-Day DL with a wrist injury. Jacoby Ellsbury was placed on the DL with a subluxation of the right shoulder. Kevin Youkilis remains day-to-day with lower back problems. Aaron Cook lasted one outing before being placed on the 15-day DL with a left knee laceration. (Sports Illustrated)

Injuries haven’t been kind to Boston.

Then came the bottom of the second inning. Bard took the mound.

After cruising through the first inning, Bard allowed three runs in the second.

It’s not the fact Bard allowed three runs that should worry Red Sox fans—it’s how he allowed those runs.

Bard walked a batter, was guilty of two balks, threw a wild pitch and allowed a broken-bat single up the middle. Bard completely lost focus in the second inning. According to Michael Vega of the Boston Globe, “The last Red Sox to have two balks in an inning was John Dopson June 13, 1989 vs. Detroit.”

Boston has been a fragile team all year. Losing Middlebrooks and watching Bard struggle in mighty fashion in the second inning only add to that fragility. 

The Red Sox went on to lose the game 6-4 and currently find themselves sitting in last place in the AL East. We’re approaching mid-May. Eventually a young season does not feel so young anymore. Middlebrooks’ hamstring could be the difference between a lost season and a season where the Boston Red Sox actually compete for a playoff spot.