Where Has The Magic Gone?
At the beginning of the year all Red Sox fans believed a repeat was in the cards.
The team had everything: pitching, exciting young players, veteran leaders, sluggers, an experienced manager, and an exceptional front office.
However, as the All-Star break approaches, the Sox have seemed to lose some luster.
Sitting in second place behind the first place Rays, and seemingly having an offense incapable of getting any runs across when they need them, the Sox are now reeling.
To me the evidence of this current low level of play began in the St. Louis series.
After losing the first two games of the series, it took a walk off home run by Kevin Youkilis to save the boys from being swept in Fenway.
Then, they managed to take two of three from the Diamondbacks, despite some shoddy hitting, was exhibited in stretches during that series by the team.
After seeing this, I thought I had found the perfect solution: a trip to Houston.
However, the Astros played tough and stole two out of three from Boston leaving them in a funk going into possibly the most important week of the year, not in September.
The first two games against the Rays kept up the trend: untimely hits given up by the pitchers and a lack of them by the hitters.
With Manny Ramirez, in a horrific slump, and J.D. Drew finally realizing he's human the offense has come to a halt.
So, with this entire “wrong,” will my Sox find a way to climb out of it?
I sure do hope so, but right now it seems unlikely.
The first problem, in my eyes, lies with a player whom I gave great praise too several weeks ago.
Jacoby Ellsbury, one of the fastest and most exciting players in the game, is simply not getting on base. He is not getting hits, which would be okay if he could stay patient and take a walk once in awhile.
With Ellsbury seemingly always walking back to the dugout after three pitches, the smoking hot Dustin Pedroia has no one to drive in.
J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez following in the line-up, is almost becoming two more guaranteed outs.
Yes, Drew is still having is occasion two-hit game with a homer, but he is not the J.D. Drew of early June.
Manny, as previously stated, is having one of the worst slumps I have witnessed, in my short career as a Red Sox and baseball fan, in general.
Second, I would like to address the pitching.
The starting pitching has not been horrendous.
Yes, Lester had a rough go in Houston, but other than that the Sox are getting about what they expect out of the rotation.
Dice-K is providing his typical aggravating five innings of one run ball; Masterson is trying his best; Wakefield is, well, Wakefield; and Beckett has been pitching closer to last year's form.
It has been the bullpen that has fallen apart.
Last season, if the game got to the seventh or eighth inning it was over.
Now, Okajima, Hansen, Delcarmen, and even Papelbon occasionally are giving games away.
Take a look at tonight's game.
Dice-K gave five decent innings and Delcarmen and Hansen pitch like AA ball players to blow the lead and suck the life right out of the team.
How can a team win if the bullpen pitchers are constantly lobbing meatballs over the plate?
Lastly, the bad luck bug has seemed to strike.
I have witnessed these hitters hit more hard line drives right at fielders than ever before.
In the St. Louis series, I even lost count in one of the games. Obviously there is no control over this, but it still bothers me.
Perhaps there needs to be some smarter hitting going on up there.
Taking more pitches, trying to got the other way, or even, some small ball to manufacture a run or two when the team needs it most. In my opinion bad luck is created not simply cast upon you.
With all this going wrong, and the team losing five in a row something needs to change, preferably by tomorrow around 7:05 p.m.
The series this weekend against the New York Yankees in New York could make or break this team.
Can they rise up out of the funk to play some great ball against their bitter rivals?
Or will they wilt under the pressure of being the defending champs and continue this World Series hangover?
I surely hope and pray for the former as opposed to the latter, but as the rare Sox fan who tries to be optimistic in every situation; even I am questioning the team.
At this juncture of the season they seem disinterested and indifferent during losses.
For the love of me, I hope this changes this weekend, because I do not think I can survive a weekend of Michael Kay and my friends, if the Sox get swept.
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