BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Mike Aviles #3 gets congratulated by teammates Marco Scutaro #10 and Jacoby Ellsbury #2 after hitting a three run homer in the bottom of the seventh against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 18, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
A couple quick facts for you:
- The Red Sox have a two game lead over the Rays in the Wild Card race. This is better than the reverse.
- There are ten games left in the season for both teams. For good or ill that is not many.
- The Rays have four in New York, three at home vs. Toronto, and three at home versus New York. The Red Sox have four at home versus Baltimore, three in New York, and three in Baltimore. The Rays have a few more at home, but face a more challenging schedule.
I present the above for perspective. Nothing is guaranteed either way.
As for the game... well, it was more of the same that we've seen from this team since the calendar kicked over to September. Lousy starting pitching, not quite enough hitting, and some ill-timed mistakes.
A few game notes:
- Tim Wakefield, Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller, Matt Albers, and Trevor Miller aren't exactly the pitchers you want to see on the mound in an important game. You could have attended a game in Fort Myers and seen a similar group of pitchers.
- Red Sox with runners in scoring position: 2-11. That makes the Red Sox 7-40 for the series (.175).
- As someone said on twitter (sorry, can't find who), Mike Aviles giveth, and Mike Aviles taketh away. Aviles made a couple throwing errors at third base, one of which led directly to a run. And yet Aviles made up for it with a double and a three run homer.
- In the eighth inning with Carl Crawford on second base Terry Francona inexplicably allowed Darnell McDonald to face a right handed pitcher when he had Josh Reddick sitting on the bench. As I said on twitter, McDonald has a .371 OPS against right handers this season. If that's too small a sample for you, he has a .595 OPS against righties in his career. We don't have to look anything up to know Reddick is a much better choice. OK, fine, I looked it up. Reddick has an .814 OPS. (I know OPS isn't the best measure of offensive output, but in this case it's an acceptable shorthand.)
- Red Sox catchers in the series: 0-13 with 2 walks. Almost all of that was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who had no hits in twelve at-bats with one walk.
I could keep going but I'd rather not. The Red Sox have played bad baseball this entire month. The virtue of playing incredible baseball for three months prior is that despite that they have a two game lead in the Wild Card. Lead or not, a huge collapse is imminent unless they start to play better baseball. As Darnell McDonald told Brian MacPherson, ""It doesn't matter if we’re two behind or two games up. We've got to play good baseball." Ain't that the truth.