July 27, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Cody Ross (7) watches the fans react to New York Yankees left fielder Raul Ibanez (27) (not pictured) home run during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
As if putting a punctuation mark on this now 1-6 slide, the Yankees have left the Sox the victims of another rout.
It's the fourth time in these past seven games that the Sox have been beaten by at least five runs. The problem tonight was simple: Aaron Cook didn't get his pitches down, and he chose the single worst team to do it against. The Yankees hit the ball hard and to all parts of the park, responding to a one-run first with a three-run bottom half, taking back every gain the Sox made, and finally putting it away against Mark Melancon, who surrendered a grand slam in the eighth inning.
Is that grand slam off Melancon the final nail in the coffin? It would certainly be appropriate, given that he was the man who provided the first way back on April 5, taking the loss even if it was Alfredo Aceves who let the inherited runner in. For the first time since June 12, the Sox are two games under .500, 11.5 back of the Yankees in the East, and 5.5 back in the wild card race, with six full teams between them and the second spot. They have the fourth worst record in the East, and sit at 7-14 over their last 21 games when it was clear they needed to start compiling wins if they wanted to stay alive.
The best case scenario for the Red Sox is now a record of 52-51 at the trade deadline, and that's only if they take their next three games, which will come against CC Sabathia, HIroki Kuroda, and Max Scherzer, with Justin Verlander waiting in the wings shortly thereafter.
Give it up, Mr. Cherington. This is a lost cause. The Red Sox will still play 62 more games because that's what mediocre baseball teams do: they play out the schedule. Even with homers from underperforming assets like Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford (not to put them in the same sentence, but...) the Sox came out well behind. This is simply not a group of players that's going to win the World Series.
It's not a familiar position for us--at least not recently. A decade of success makes it hard to forget that early defeat is an option. That for years Red Sox fans headed into August with no expectation of anything beyond a few good performances from the young guys. We've been there for, we can survive another trip. The sooner that's accepted, the sooner we can start thinking about the future, and when the good times will roll again.
There's always next year.