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The Rays had a terrific chance to make some headway in the race for the American League Wild Card spot on Wednesday with a doubleheader scheduled in New York. Instead, they lost two straight 4-2 ball games, giving the Red Sox a great chance to bury the race for good with just a week’s worth of games to go.
Instead, the Red Sox lost again to the Orioles (a 6-4 defeat), losing their 16th game in their last 21 games overall. Still, because the Rays lost twice, the Red Sox lead the Wild Card by 2.5 games. Trailing the Sox are the Rays and Angels, who have identical 85-70 records.
The Red Sox ace allowed just one run over the first five innings and had a 4-1 lead. In the next three innings, however, Beckett faltered. He finished with a line of 7.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 8 Ks. He allowed two home runs, including a game-tying, 2-run HR in the 7th inning to make it a 4-4 game.
Beckett pitched into the eighth to help relieve a tired Sox bullpen, but he tired himself. Alfredo Aceves came in to relieve him with runners on second and third and one out. The always-reliable Aceves allowed a two-run single to Vladimir Guerrero, giving the O’s the lead and the game.
If there’s ever a good loss, this was it. Beckett went 7.1 innings, the Sox used only two pitchers, and the Rays lost twice in the same day.
Despite battling a devastating (note the sarcasm) stiff neck, which forced him to sit out a doubleheader earlier this week, Carl Crawford delivered bigtime for the Red Sox on Wednesday night. Crawford finished 3-4 with a single, double and triple. He drove in 2 runs and also scored once.
The Red Sox are going to need him down the stretch. Hell, they need everyone to step up, but it’s better when people that haven’t done anything all year (i.e. Crawford) step up and contribute. We know that Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez will continue to contribute just as they have all year.
The Red Sox have an off-day Thursday before they embark on their final road trip of the season. First up is a three-game series in the Bronx before another three-game series against the Orioles, this time in Baltimore. If the Red Sox win four of the remaining six games, they should be in good shape. Any less, and they better hope they get lucky for the first time since August.