The gates are closed on Fenway Park's 2012 schedule. Her 100th anniversary coming to an ending appropriate for the season, if not for the occasion. Playing their final home game of the year, the Red Sox suffered a typical disappointing loss.
For four innings, Jon Lester built expectations. The Rays were in town, and that was enough to make this game one worth winning. But Lester played with their being something more to the night. 13 up, 13 down, albeit with a walk mixed in to nix the perfect game even if a double play erased the runner. Entering the fifth, the board still showed zero in the hits column, and that was enough to get the whispers going.
But of course, Lester's strong start only served to make his fifth inning collapse that much more jarring. From four innings of nearly perfect protection to a pair of homers that turned the no-hit bid into a two-run deficit.Where Lester had dominated, he now stood on the verge of collapse.
That collapse did not come, to be fair, but it didn't have to either. The Red Sox lineup did its best imitation of a punching bag for the rest of the game, putting together just two runs total despite the relatively early departure of Alex Cobb from the game in the fifth.
A team does not win many games when any stretch of its lineup features Daniel Nava, Jose Iglesias, Pedro Ciriaco, and Scott Podsednik. These losses were not unexpected. Still, after these last four games the Sox have played against Tampa Bay, it feels like perhaps there's a minimum threshold that's gone unobserved, with neither team performances nor individual showings providing any sort of positives.
Then again, it's just been that kind of year on the whole, hasn't it?