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So much for that thunderous roar back into the standings. While a sweep would have been the nail in the proverbial coffin for your 2010 Boston Red Sox, the best that this team can hope for at this point is a split of the series. Doesn’t it taste just as bitter?
As Josh Beckett and the Red Sox dropped another crucial game to the New York Yankees, 7-2 in New York on Sunday night, the Sox dropped another game in the standings, and squandered a dual set of opportunities that came with a head-to-head matchup with the Yanks and the Tampa Bay Rays being swept in memorable fashion in Toronto; they struck out 17 times and were one out away from being no-hit (again!). A split will keep the Red Sox afloat, but is by no means acceptable as this race finds Boston chasing the two best teams in baseball.
While two ill-advised throws resulting in key errors take the blame from being squarely on Beckett’s shoulders, the ace of this staff has already lost this season to injury, and apparently lost his mojo against the Yankees. It’s a far-cry from his epic 2003 postseason performance against the Bronx Bombers, and this loss did little to foster encouragement in the righty’s outlook this season and beyond into his contract extension; Beckett dropped to 3-2 on the season with a 6.21 ERA (we can throw out good-looking performances against the Seattle Mariners and Triple-A roster of the Cleveland Indians, can’t we?).
As news came down about three hours before game time that Yankees starter A.J. Burnett would be scratched due to back spasms (this is the second Sox-Yanks series he’s bowed out of this season), journeyman right-hander Dustin Moseley would be moved up a day to start against Beckett on the national stage of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The Red Sox probably would have preferred Burnett. Moseley worked 6 1/3 impressive innings, scattering six hits and two runs while striking out five against a Red Sox offense that is sorely missing Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia.
The loss of those two just clearly illustrates how badly Boston needs it’s starting rotation. While this team has done a more-than-credible job to stay in the race with an offense that ranks higher in it’s respective categories than does the pitching staff, both Youkilis and Pedroia are the unspoken co-captains of this team, and Youk has been arguably the team’s best offensive player since the departure of one Manny Ramirez. His loss looks to be too much for this team to overcome.
That makes the performance by Beckett all that much more disconcerting. He was on his heels almost from the get-go, giving up two hits in the first inning but worked out of trouble with a strikeout of A-Rod and a pop-up of current A.L. MVP favorite Robinson Cano. The second inning kicked off a Lance Berkman sighting, as he doubled with one out (cue the collective sigh of relief from Yankees fans). Berkman looked to be held at third after a nice diving play by Bill Hall kept a single by Brett Gardner in the infield, but Hall inexplicably fired an off-line throw to first that got past a stumbling Victor Martinez (whose odd footwork showed obvious rust at the position) and allowed Berkman to score. A good throw would not have had Gardner at first anyways, whose speed was on display. He stole second and worked with Derek Jeter to manufacture a run on Jeter’s single, which placed him ahead of Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list at 2,874.
Bill Hall cut the lead in half with a solo home run in the top of the fifth, but things got worse for Josh Beckett and the Red Sox after that. Mark Texeira answered right back with a 417-foot bomb of his own, and Beckett’s night was soon over after another Berkman double and a bad throwing decision (this time by Kevin Cash) doomed the righty. Beckett had struck out Gardner, and Cash fired a pick-off throw down the third base line that looked as though it would have had Cano for an inning-ending double play, but the ball glanced off Cano’s helmet and down the left field line. Beckett’s final line on the evening: 4 2/3 innings, 11 hits, seven earned runs and six strikeouts.
To state the obvious, 11 hits against New York in Yankee Stadium is not going to get it done. The Red Sox are now tied with the Minnesota Twins for second place in the wild card race with a record of 63-49, which places them 4 1/2 games behind the Rays. It’s already enough to have to worry about chasing two juggernauts in your own division, but it is by no means a give-in that the Wild Card will come out of the A.L. East. Give Theo, Francona and the boys credit for hanging in there and not alluding to the crippling amount of injuries they’ve had to endure, but if the starting rotation cannot perform up to capabilities, the calendar will be turning to October and the Red Sox will find themselves on the outside looking in.
There was slim pickens in this category, so Beltre was chosen because his double continues his fantastic offensive run with the Red Sox. He should play out a contract year every year.
See his pitching line above. Enough said.
W: Dustin Moseley (2-1)
L: Josh Beckett (3-2)
Tags: A.J. Burnett, Bill Hall, Brett Gardner, Cleveland Indians, Dustin Moseley, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Kevin Cash, Kevin Youkilis, Lance Berkman, Manny Ramirez, Mark Texeira, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Yankee Stadium