Aug 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine (25) walks back to the dugout after a pitching change in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
The Red Sox lost. To an Indians team that was fresh off an 11-game losing streak. Facing a starting pitcher in Ubaldo Jimenez who had an ERA of 5.29 and had allowed 11 earned runs in his last two games. With a lefty on the mound up against one of the worst teams in the league against southpaws.
The thing is, I can just see this game ending so differently against the sort of Red Sox team that we had a few short years ago.
Ubaldo, a pitcher struggling with his control, comes up against a team that emphasizes patience. They get ahead in the count, foul off pitches, and start a carousel around the bases. By the third inning, Ubaldo may have given up as many as five runs, or as few as one, but his pitch count is such that the knock-out blow is just around the corner. He walks two, gives up an RBI single, and then his night is over on one loud three-run blast, surrendered on his 103rd pitch of the night.
Even if that inning doesn't happen, he's out by the start of the sixth, leaving the Red Sox the weaker aspects of the bullpen to work on.
Felix Doubront, meanwhile, is well rested. The Sox elected to shut him down for a few weeks around the time Aaron Cook and Franklin Morales were filling out the rotation to six men, exaggerating their policy of mid-season breaks for pitchers because of his recent back-and-forth stints in the bullpen and his short 2011 innings count. He does not flag late, carries the Sox through the sixth, and then hands the ball off to a well-established group of relievers in the late innings. Forget matchups, the Sox go for quality first, and don't try and milk too many outs from a pitcher who had thrown 45 pitches in the past three days.
That's not what we have now, though. Instead we have ten strikeouts and one walk. A hat trick from a catcher who's never seen a pitch in the dirt he didn't love, an 0-for from the shortstop who's only in the lineup because we've shuffled the Gold Glove second baseman to the DH spot for the night, four men stranded from the left fielder who has finally showed some promise, but brought none of it to the table tonight.
And Doubront falls apart late because despite toying with a six-man rotation for over a month now the organization hasn't seen fit to rest one of its promising young arms having half-again as many innings on his arm as he did all of last year and the disturbing trend of high pitch count collapses plaguing him for more than a month now.
Not all of these complaints are entirely valid, I realize. I'm frustrated, we're all frustrated, this team is certainly both frustrated and frustrating.
There are bright spots, but tonight doesn't seem like the night for them. The Sox keep falling lower, and all we can do is watch.