John Smoltz Designated for Assignment; Red Sox 2006 Nightmares Lurking

Amanda BrunoCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 6:  Manager Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox takes the ball from pitcher John Smoltz #29 as he takes him out of the game in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees on August 6, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 13-6.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty images)

This may be the saddest end to any future Hall of Famer's career.

It's been reported by multiple sources (starting here) that John Smoltz has been designated for assignment and left to go home to Atlanta Friday.
The original rumor came from WFAN in New York City.
Smoltz completed his worst outing yet in a Boston Red Sox uniform as he went for 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs on nine hits, four walks, and two home runs. 
As sad as this is, why did it take Terry Francona this long to realize that it's just not working out? Why did he still opt to start Smoltz in perhaps one of the biggest games during this road-trip stretch?
The loss last night puts Boston three-and-a-half games back of New York and just three games ahead in the loss column to Tampa Bay who has been surging. 
New York is 15-5 since the All-Star Break and is 22-10 since July 1. Tampa Bay is 35-20 since the beginning of June and 12-7 since the break. 
The Red Sox?
They are 15-15 since July 1 and 8-11 since the break.
And what does this remind any Sox fan of?
That August meltdown just three seasons ago, perhaps one of the worst meltdowns in recent years. Is this going to happen again?
Every player thinkable is hurt: J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, Rocco Baldelli, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The pitching rotation has collapsed behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. David Ortiz' and Jacoby Ellsbury's bats have gone cold, and trading away Justin Masterson for Victor Martinez is looking more horrendous by the day, especially when the Sox need a long reliever to eat up innings.
Can this be stopped? Everything is happening so fast and it's hard to understand why.
Like what you see? Follow me on Twitter