Happy 29th, Dustin. At least you had a solid night. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
Another night of just not quite enough, this time against the Yankees. It's been an ugly week all around, so let's just dive right into the recapping.
Hooray, it's injury report time. For the most part, it's good news, small comfort though that may be at this stage of the season. Andrew Bailey, as we mentioned he would, has started throwing real innings for Boston. Combined with Josh Reddick's .175/.213/.333 August, this means the Red Sox have now won their offseason trade with Oakland. That's how this works, right? Bailey looked good in short work last night against the Yankees, which is probably not good to think about for too long. Rich Hill's moved his rehab up to Portland, as he continues to get his elbow back into major-league shape. Although Will Middlebrooks will almost certainly miss the remainder of this season, his broken wrist will not require surgery, which is generally a good sign long-term.
Beyond injuries, the story of this increasingly lost-looking season has of course been starting pitching. This week showed us a few interesting things from the starters, not least of which was Clay Buchholz's brilliant inning of work against Baltimore. The rise of Buchholz to staff ace over the last two months has been one of the few bright spots in this season. The guy we'd all figured would be the ace this year, Jon Lester, has been struggling all season, but as Marc points out, there have been a few good signs from him lately. Whether Lester might go on a run remains to be seen, and whether even that could salvage a chance at contending, remains to be seen. Then of course there's Aaron Cook, who had one of the more impressively split games I've seen on Wednesday, no-hitting Baltimore for five innings and then imploding as his sinker rose into the strike zone.
This week mostly saw a lot of yelling about why the Red Sox find themselves at 58-62, 6.5 out in the wild card race. A story broke on Tuesday (well, really it was a repackaging of a story from July, but never mind) describing a meeting amongst Sox players, coaches, and ownership. According to Tuesday's report, this meeting was demanded by certain Boston players to call for Bobby Valentine's ouster. According to Sox owner John Henry, the meeting was an ownership decision at which players expressed frustration with their own underperfomance. So which was it? Was it either? Matt Kory delivered a fantastic piece on the simple truth that we just don't know what's going on inside the Sox clubhouse, and very likely wouldn't care if the on-field product was any good. More likely, the entire situation is Ben Affleck's fault.
So what's actually gone wrong for Boston this year? Matt Collins looked at Dustin Pedroia's down season. Daniel Bard, after a vaguely promising start to the season in the rotation, has completely fallen apart, maybe irreparably. Rather than finding pieces to put them over the top, Boston has been trading for either retreads like Danny Valencia or relief projects like Pedro Beato, recently acquired in the Kelly Shoppach deal with the Mets.
Where does this leave the Red Sox? Ben asked what this year's team can do to get us all looking to 2013 with something other than dread. Marc brought back a bit of dread by speculating on what the Red Sox would look like without David Ortiz. Ryan Lavarnway will get his chance to prove he's the catcher of the future. Maybe it's time to give Jose Iglesias the call and see if he adjusts to the majors. I asked that wherever the Sox wind up going, they do so without Jason Varitek at the helm, at least not for a while.
We end the recap on a truly sad note. This week saw the passing of Boston Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky. I put together a few thoughts on Pesky's career and legacy, and each of us certainly has their own best memories of Pesky. The Red Sox will be holding a memorial on Tuesday, and there will be viewing hours for Pesky on Sunday in Lynn, if you happen to be anywhere near the North Shore. My own way of honoring Pesky's memory will be to sit back this weekend and appreciate the game he spent his life with, and I'd encourage all of you to take a moment to do the same. The Sox have been beyond disappointing this year, but as Ben pointed out this week, there's been an amazing run of baseball going on all over the league. Grab a beverage, hang out on the couch, watch some Mike Trout highlights, and enjoy the fact that baseball's as strong as it's ever been. Happy weekend.