Monday night was a perfect example of "shoulda, coulda, woulda" for the Boston Red Sox.
The New York Yankees bowed to the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics, which means the Sox could have gained a game in the American League East and also lowered their magic number to clinch the wild card to six.
But that didn't happen.
Terry Francona opted to go to the struggling Manny Delcarmen to relieve starter Tim Wakefield, and everything fell apart.
Why does Francona do this?
He did it with John Smoltz. It took eight starts and five losses later for him to realize that this wasn't going to work out.
He also did it with Brad Penny. But Penny's situation wasn't as tragic at the beginning; however, by Aug. 21, in a 20-11 loss to the Yankees where he lasted only four innings while giving up eight runs on 10 hits, that was the breaking point.
Francona's latest "I know he'll turn things around" pitcher is Delcarmen and is coming at the worst possible time.
There's no question Delcarmen blew it, but another guy who hasn't been his lights-out self is Daniel Bard.
In his last three outings, Bard has given up five hits, three runs, and two walks in 2.2 innings with two strikeouts.
He took the loss Monday night, but also claimed the win against the Angels last Wednesday after giving up the typing run in the top of the ninth to send it to a bottom half.
Funny how things work out in baseball.
Tonight, the Sox have to face Zack Greinke, who is 3-0 in his last five outings and has only salvaged three runs. Paul Byrd goes to the mound for Boston.
Not exactly what Red Sox fans want to see, and tonight could become a make-or-break game for the remainder of the series.
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