|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|
Remember those irritating siren that would sound every time something bad happened in a sci-fi movie? Well, I’m turning it on. That’s right, following in the footsteps of the great Boston sportswriters before me, I’m pressing the Panic Button!
If it wasn’t disturbing enough that the Sox have lost 6 games off their Wild Card lead, it’s the manor in which it has happened. The ways this team is finding to lose games bring back some buried, but still vivid memories of seasons past. First, there were the two epic bullpen meltdowns against Toronto, where the formerly lights-out Daniel Bard began to evoke memories of John “Way Back!” Wasdin and the 2001 edition of Derek Lowe.
Then, there was Thursday night’s 9-2 loss to the Rays, where B.J. Upton’s broken bat forced Marco Scutaro to decide between certain impalement or the third out and ultimately extended the inning for notorious Sox killer Evan Longoria to put the game out of reach.
I know it sounds ridiculous to judge this Rays series before Game 2 even begins, but you know what this series could serve as a potential mirror for? The 2006 5-game Yankees sweep where New York took advantage of a beat-up and overmatched Red Sox rotation, outscoring Boston 49–26 (it felt like 100-0) to effectively end the Sox’s playoff hopes.
It’s starting to look like Tampa is in another class at the moment, as the Sox have not even been able to even compete against the Rays the past four times they have played. Last night, Boston was done in by Longoria and the excellent rookie Jeremy Hellickson. Friday, they get another ace-caliber pitcher, James Shields. On the bright side, The Sox still have Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to go in this series, and winning two out of the four games would likely be enough to hold off Tampa in the standings. Simply put, tonight’s game is huge. If the Rays can defeat Beckett, who has owned them this year, the momentum would be hard for the Sox to overcome.
*If the game is even remotely close, Matt Albers has no business even setting foot in the bullpen. Albers is the guy that my friends and I have nicknamed “The White Flag” because he only seems to pitch right after something terrible has happened to the bullpen and the game is out of reach.
*Either certain players on the Red Sox can only play at 100% health or the training staff is the least effective in professional sports.