The Red Sox were run out of Fenway Park Thursday night as Terry Francona emerged victorious in his return to Boston, 12-3.
This was a game lost in stages.
Ryan Dempster was the author of the first stage. And that in itself is concerning. For a second straight start, Dempster missed. Often as not, he missed high, which is generally a bad thing, but this wasn't a game where Dempster was knocked around the yard, but one where he gave away bases for free, and suffered the consequences when everything else didn't go perfectly. A bloop behind first going for a run, for instance, or a double play attempt coming up short allowing another to come in.
More convincing there was a double to left field bringing in two in the third, but the point is if you're giving up four walks in three innings, you can't afford even the slightest slip-up.
Dempster's stage would actually come to an end after just three innings, given his high pitch count both on the night (85) and in the previous game (127). The Red Sox actually managed to end this stage on a positive note, with David Ortiz launching a three-run shot to right to bring Boston within a run. The good feelings were only slightly muted by the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury had just been thrown out at home with nobody out, thus costing the Red Sox the tying run.
The second stage would go to Clayton Mortensen, and really, this was where the game was well and truly lost. A long reliever's job is not to be spotless, but it is to record outs efficiently enough to preserve the rest of the bullpen, and keep the damage to a minimum to facilitate a possible comeback.
Through the end of the fifth, Mortensen was only managing this in the loosest sense. He had given up a run before even recording his second out, and then allowed another one to come in in the fifth. With plentiful baserunners along the way, his pitch count was also quickly rising.
Still, if he'd gotten through the sixth, he may have been able to say he was unimpressive but effective. Instead, he gave up a single and two walks to start the sixth, loading the bases and essentially sealing Boston's fate barring divine intervention. He was, frankly, a disaster.
The third stage would see Alex Wilson finally have the bad outing we all knew was coming, allowing the Indians to score not only all three of the runners inherited from Mortensen, but three more to boot. Still, by this point Wilson was doing little more than filling the role of pitcher while events played out around him. The Indians were not going to leave those baserunners, and they were not going to let the Red Sox back in it.
It's just one loss, no matter how many runs separated the two teams. Tomorrow the Sox will try again with zeroes on the board. Still, from five straight wins back to three losses losses in four attempts, it's not exactly encouraging to see the pendulum swinging back the other way so soon.
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