August 3, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (right) talks with starting pitcher Felix Doubront (61) during the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
When you can't win a series against the Twins, isn't it time to start thinking about draft position?
The Red Sox are once again below .500 after a second straight loss to the Twins and third straight loss overall, leaving the gains of their winning streak almost entirely erased.
The symptoms this time were not quite the typical 2012 maladies, but smacked more of the difficulties they faced in years past, with the inability to produce runs from advantageous positions costing them both early and late.
One thing that was the same as always was the failure of a starting pitcher to hold a lead. Felix Doubront was gifted a 5-1 advantage in the third when Carl Crawford made Justin Morneau pay for dropping a foul ball by launching a three-run shot into the bullpens.
Then things went wrong.
After holding it for one inning, Doubront hit the wall that he has hit so often of late, surrendering a pair of singles and then losing control of the strike zone (and his arguments with the home plate umpire), loading the bases and walking in a run. Two more would come across on a Justin Morneau base hit, and only a great running play by Cody Ross turned a double into a sacrifice fly, leaving the teams tied at 5-5 after five.
The wasted opportunities came often enough. In the first, Adrian Gonzalez grounded into a double play with men on first and second and one out. Two more runners were stranded in the second (though Shoppach did manage to bring Crawford home after his two-out double), another double play mitigated a pair of errors commited by the Twins in the fifth, and Ryan Lavarnway couldn't bring Cody Ross home from second in the seventh.
The real tragedy, though, came in the eighth. The Sox loaded the bases with one out and their 1-2 hitters coming to the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury struck out swinging at ball three, Dustin Pedroia flew out lazily to right, and just like that it was over. Ryan Lavarnway was left at second in the ninth, the Twins scored their leadoff double in the tenth, and the Sox went down in order in the tenth.
107 games in, 53 wins on the board. How far we have fallen in one year's time.