There's an easy explanation for tonight's game: a horrible umpire with an inconsistent zone. At least, that's what the Red Sox would be likely to tell you if asked about Lance Barksdale and their 4-1 loss to the Yankees.
Unfortunately, that story does not bear out. Lance Barksdale was largely consistent. The zone was, on the whole, one of the better ones we've seen this year, with just a couple of outlier strikes. The difference was that while CC Sabathia and the Yankees hitters adapted to its quirks, and the Red Sox complained. While Sabathia took what was given him, Lester went looking for what was clearly not available, falling behind and surrendering two runs in an ugly second inning. While the Yankees drew their walks, the Red Sox took pitches in the zone and then argued that the call was wrong, failing to mount any really significant attack during the game.
It was a game of excuses. Of passing the buck and deflecting responsibility, all the while ignoring the hittable pitches being offered by an up-and-down Sabathia and missed by a lineup that was almost exclusively down. Even considering that CC Sabathia was on the mound (and, struggling or not, he's no easy mark), it was one of the worst offensive performances of the year, if not for the actual numbers produced, then for the way they came about them.
This is, frankly, uncharacteristic of this team. Belligerence was the way of the 2012 team, particularly Jon Lester, but so far this year we've seen the softer side of the Sox, if you will. It's not good to see that this side of the team exists, but it's also not surprising. These are baseball players, not saints, and everyone has a bad day at times.
This is the sort of night where John Farrell is needed. Whether he sympathizes with their ill-founded complaints or takes an approach more grounded in reality*, he needs to drive home that this is not how to play a game of baseball. Complaints need to be replaced with tough at bats. Arguments with adjustments. The 2013 Red Sox are better than this. They just need to show it tomorrow.
*Based on his post-game comments, it's unfortunately going to be the former.
Read more Red Sox:
- MLB Draft 2013: Who could the Red Sox pick at #7?
- Red Sox' Dustin Pedroia has full UCL tear
- Is John Lackey really back?
- Two Red Sox prospects in Keith Law’s updated top 25
- Where’s Dustin Pedroia’s power? Ask the pitchers