The Red Sox started this week reeling from a series loss to the lowly Minnesota Twins. They opened up a series against class-of-the-league Texas with one of their most convincing victories of the season, a game that conjured memories of last year's four months of midseason glory. They then proceeded to do their Icarus thing again, crashing to Earth in a tangle of melted wings and lousy pitching. Wednesday's game in particular was a brilliant microcosm of the entire season. Josh Beckett gave up a few runs early, Boston fought back to tie it. Beckett then gave up a few more, and Boston came back within a run. Beckett was sent out to give up a few runs more, giving way to Clayton Mortensen after the horse had left the barn miles behind. And against all odds, the offense again brought them back, with Will Middlebrooks's three-run shot tying the game at nine runs apiece. Then Mortensen was sent out for a few batters too many, and back behind the Red Sox fell, and so they would lose.
So close, always able to put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard, and never quite making over the hump. It was the entire 2012 season played out over three hours on a sunny Boston afternoon. Oh, and they booed Beckett for his poor performance, about which I daresay I'll have more to say on Monday once I've calmed down a bit (assuming the Sox do anything good this weekend against Cleveland. If they haven't won a few, it's going to be an unpleasant morning.) A rough week, to be sure, but rough weeks make for interesting writing, and we had plenty of it for you.
Full recap after the jump.
Injury updates again. They're mostly good this time around, so I suppose that's something. David Ortiz, trying to get back on the field after suffering a heel injury several weeks ago, received a pain-killing injection in his Achilles tendon. Whether this did the trick or not is unknown, but there are indications from Bobby Valentine that Ortiz will reclaim his spot in the lineup on Sunday. In further news of oncoming reinforcements, Andrew Bailey has begun throwing in Pawtucket. Bailey's potential return couldn't be better timed, since the Sox bullpen, a strength for much of the season, has been looking a bit ragged of late. Particularly damaging has been the loss of Scott Atchison to a torn UCL. Atchison is going to attempt non-surgical rehab for the arm, but whether this leads to a return this season is unknown. Also rehabbing is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who hopefully will be able to return soon and lend some stability to the... No. No, I just can't finish that sentence, it's too tragic. Speaking of tragic, Ben put together a Sporcle quiz: "Can you name the 2012 Red Sox disabled list?" If you can guess all 24, congratulations! You are probably extremely angry.
Let's talk about some players who aren't hurt, shall we? Adrian Gonzalez, despite his sub-par (for him) production, has still managed to produce offensive value for Boston this year. Worried that Will Middlebrooks doesn't walk enough? Well, it's a concern, but as Marc pointed out, the lack of walks doesn't necessarily suggest a lack of patience. You may have noticed that Felix Doubront's starting to wear down in the fifth inning a lot lately. That's because he's slowly closing in on a career high in innings pitched, which will be yet another thing weighing on the minds of Boston's front office as September approaches. On the happier end of the ledger, the real Carl Crawford seems to have showed up. The Sox left fielder has spent the last two weeks looking like the player Theo Epstein was willing to commit to for seven years, and that should be cause for optimism.
The non-waiver deadline's been and gone, but there's still been room for some player movement. Boston called Clayton Mortensen back up, since Vicente Padilla became the latest Red Sox player to hit the disabled list. Deciding that Ryan Kalish needed more consistent playing time in the minors, Boston optioned the young outfielder to Pawtucket. What to do with this suddenly open roster spot? Why, re-sign Scott Podsednik, of course! A little while ago, after Arizona released Podsednik, Matt Kory and I discussed on Twitter the possibility of a Podsednik catch-and-release program, in which Boston would trade Pods for relief assets and minor prospects, wait for the inevitable release, then do it all again. I freely admit to hoping that's what's going on here.
For a guy who doesn't pitch, hit, or field, we sure spend a lot of time talking about Bobby Valentine. It's an inevitable part of managing in baseball, of course, especially when a team is underachieving as hard as this year's Boston squad. So two questions come to the forefront regarding the Sox' new manager. First, is Boston's underwhelming performance this season his fault? Matt Sullivan makes the compelling point that Valentine's handling of pitchers has directly contributed to a number of losses. The second question, of course, is much trickier: should Boston fire Valentine? We looked at the arguments pro and con, and Red Sox ownership has come down strongly on the side of sticking by their manager. Of course, that sort of public show of support can often be the prelude to a change.
Matt Kory gave us a look at the Red Sox bullpen, which has been one of the few bright spots of this year. Ben discussed whether it's time for the Sox, regardless of what they do with their manager, should start playing like a team planning for next season.
Boston takes on the Indians again tonight. Happy weekend, all.