|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Ever take a test in high school or college and know you totally bombed it? You sat down, looked at the exam, blanked on more than half of the answers, and just filled in bubble “C” all the way down, hoping to strike gold and pass the test? Well, that’s how the last couple weeks has felt for the Red Sox. For a while now, they have just been too far out of it, and it only seemed inevitable to hear the news that they failed the test (in this case, failed to qualify for the 2010 playoffs).
After delaying the inevitable for about a week, the Red Sox finally were mathematically eliminated from postseason play when the Yankees won their game early Tuesday evening. As soon as that news crossed the wires, it appeared that the wind in the Red Sox sail was gone, and all motivation to finish off the season strong was lacking. Still, the Red Sox clung to a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning as they pushed toward 90 wins.
Unfortunately, starter John Lackey was unable to proceed past the sixth inning, so the Red Sox were forced to turn to Scott Atchison in the seventh inning. Atchison failed to record an out, allowing two hits, and on came lefty Rich Hill. Hill got out of the inning, but not before allowing an RBI single to Brent Morel.
Daniel Bard had an uncharacteristically off performance in the eighth inning, as he allowed the game-tying run on a hit and two walks. With the game now tied 4-4 and the team officially eliminated from postseason play, Terry Francona dug deep into his bullpen, and decided to give important late-game innings to some of his younger pitchers.
First up was Michael Bowden, who was able to record two outs in the ninth but he also allowed an infield hit to Juan Pierre, who subsequently stole second and third. Dustin Richardson then came on and walked the only person he faced, leaving runners on the corners and two outs for Matt Fox.
Fox allowed a sinking line drive to left, and Daniel Nava made an incredible diving effort to nearly catch the ball and save the game for the Sox. Instead, the ball hit his glove and rolled behind him, easily allowing Pierre to score from third base.
The White Sox won 5-4, scoring one run in each of the final three innings.
Big Papi finished 3-4, including a sixth inning home run off Edwin Jackson that gave the Sox some breathing room with a 4-2 lead. He now has 32 HRs on the season.
Lopez started his first game with the Red Sox at second base, and finished 0-4 with two strikeouts.
W: Chris Sale (2-1)
L: Michael Bowden (0-1)