Sometimes, when things seem to be going wrong, it starts to get out of hand. Tonight was one of those times.
Almost every loss the Red Sox has can be traced to poor play. John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka's implosions. The home runs in Texas, poor hitting against mediocre pitchers...They've been outplayed time and again, including the first game of the series against the Rays.
But Tuesday, it was just...something else. They did just about everything better than the Rays. They struck out less, hit the ball harder, and Jon Lester really just looked better than David Price, though the latter was plenty impressive in his own right. But somehow, every ball in play found a Ray in the field. Line drives and hard ground balls, all aimed so perfectly that the fielders didn't even have to take a step.
It got downright comical in the sixth inning when, with Dustin Pedroia standing at second, Adrian Gonzalez hit one on the screws back up the middle. What would've gone for a base hit almost 100% of the time instead found David Price's backside, and bounced harmlessly to the second baseman for the out. Jed Lowrie scored Pedroia with a double, but at the very least the Sox would have had men on second and third with just one out had it not been for that bizarre turn of events.
That could well have proved to be enough, too, given the impressive performance by Jon Lester, who had struck out seven batters by the end of the fourth inning. But, once again, things just went wrong. A one-out rally by the Rays had three straight batters reach on singles, only one of them hit particularly hard, but loading the bases all the same. Somehow, they cashed in on the weakest of ground balls tapped up the first base line by Sam Fuld. Adrian Gonzalez charged the ball, but it was placed so that his only play was at home, and even that was a long shot. He made the throw, but too late, as the Rays tied the game. Johnny Damon followed him up with a groundball single to make it 3-1, and that was all the Rays would need.
With the loss, the Red Sox are 2-9--the worst record in the league--and relying on John Lackey to save them from their third sweep of the year.
That, my friends, is a nightmare scenario.