Things aren’t clicking on any cylinder for Boston. The starting pitching, bullpen, offense—you name it, it’s been a disaster.
Sometimes, a couple of innings within a game can tell you all you need to know as to why a team is losing and how things really aren’t going their way. Case in point: the fifth and sixth innings of last night’s game.
Let’s start with the top of the fifth.
Down 3-2, the Red Sox had runners on first and third with one out and Kevin Youkilis at the plate. Youkilis hit a fly ball down the right field line that dropped maybe two inches foul. Two inches to the left and with the backspin on the ball, Crawford scores easily, and maybe even Adrian Gonzalez, who was on first, might have scored.
Worst case scenario is Gonzalez is on third and Youkilis is on second with one out and the game is tied.
Instead, the Red Sox still have runners on first and third with one out, and of course, on the next pitch, Youkilis strikes out. Manny Acta then goes to his bullpen and brings in Raphael Perez to face David Ortiz and Perez gets Ortiz to ground out weakly to first to end the inning.
If the Red Sox are on a four-game winning steak instead of a four-game losing streak, Youkilis’ ball stays fair and everything is right in the world.
Let’s now go to the bottom of the fifth.
After a typical shaky first inning, in which I would have rather been beaten over the head with a hot mop than watch him pitch, Daisuke Matsuzaka actually settled in nicely. He had retired 10 out of the last 11 batters until he faced Carlos Santana.
On a 2-2 pitch, Dice-K threw a two-seam fastball on the outside corner. Everyone in the stadium, including Jason Varitek and Santana himself, thought it was a strike. Everyone, that is, except home-plate umpire Dale Scott.
It was a borderline pitch, but certainly close enough to be called a strike. If the Red Sox are doing well, that’s a strike and the inning is over. Instead, Santana singles and Travis Hafner follows up with another single.
Dice-K got out of the jam, but that ball call to Santana forced Dice-K to throw seven more pitches in the inning, which essentially ended his night.
With Dice-K’s night over, Terry Francona went to Dennys Reyes in the bottom of the sixth.
Reyes promptly hit two batters and then walked Jack Hannahan on four pitches.
I started a “When will the Red Sox cut Reyes?” pool on Twitter last night. I have May 1st.
With Dan Wheeler pitching and Michael Brantley at the plate, Brantley hit a line drive to third, which Youkilis dropped. Youkilis recovered, stepped on third and threw home to Varitek. Double play, right?
Varitek didn’t see Youkilis step on third, so he forgot to tag the runner coming home. The runner was safe.
So when the Red Sox catch a break with Youkilis dropping the ball, it turns into a negative.
Youkilis’ foul ball, the Dice-K missed third strike and Varitek forgetting to tag the runner coming home pretty much summarizes how the Red Sox's season has gone so far. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for this team.
But don’t fret, Red Sox fans. To find the last team to lose five in a row and win the World Series, you have to go all the way back to—I mean, way back to—the 2010 San Francisco Giants. And if you thought they were a fluke, you can go all the way back to the 2009 New York Yankees to find a team that lost five in a row and went on to win the World Series.
All will be well, Red Sox fans. It’s just not going so well right now.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg
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