When the Red Sox came back from a 6-0 deficit to take last night's game, they were supposed to put all the bad mojo behind. That's kind of the idea of a turning point. You leave all the recent garbage behind you and start on a clean page where the team's natural talent shines through.
Apparently, the Red Sox aren't aware of how all that works, because tonight, it was the same old...well, you know.
It's strange to say, but a game where the Red Sox lost only really turned sour when they were already behind. The fourth inning was not at all encouraging for Steven Wright. We've seen the knuckleballer struggle in the rain, and while it was a clear night in Texas, there was plenty of humidity, and plenty of heat, leaving the environment far from dry. The outfield had saved him some damage in the first few innings, but in the third, Wright failed to locate his knuckleball, and it cost him quite a bit. First as Ian Desmond led off the frame with a solo shot, and again when he loaded the bases with a pair of walks around a bunt single from Rougned Odor. Mitch Moreland shot a low line drive through the right side of the infield, and the Rangers took a 3-1 lead into the fifth.
But there the Sox seemed ready to turn things around in a hurry. They already had one run courtesy of Hanley Ramirez' ongoing power surge, and with A.J. Griffin clearly tiring, the Sox loaded the bases with one out and brought Luke Jackson into the game for Texas. Mookie Betts stepped up to the plate, and greeted him with a flare to right field that got the Sox within one, and reloaded the bases. The stage was set for a big inning, and Dustin Pedroia very nearly cashed in when he hit a long line drive into the right field corner.
That was the moment the game changed. Pedroia's line drive, not far from a home run, landed foul. Shortly thereafter, he got jammed inside, and hit one right to Adrian Beltre, who started the double play to end the inning. Instead of taking the lead, the Sox found themselves in the bottom of the fifth, and Wright quickly found himself facing early trouble when Xander Bogaerts booted an easy ground ball to start the frame. Wright got the next two batters out, but where the inning should've been over, Adrian Beltre came up with two down and singled home Shin-Soo Choo to make it 4-2. Wright would finally seem to get his third out when he induced a ground ball towards first, but again, the infield was not behind him. Hanley Ramirez let the ball skip under his glove, and the inning just kept on going and going and going until Robbie Ross was allowing an eighth run come in to score for the Rangers by slinging a pitch as far outside as any pitch has ever been thrown before.
It could have been 3-2. It could have been a tie game, or 5-3 for the Red Sox. Instead, it was 8-2. Once again, everything went horribly wrong at about the same time.
The Red Sox briefly played at a comeback in the sixth after a pair of leadoff walks and a Bradley double made it 8-3. But Shaw and Brentz went down swinging, and that was about it for any real hopes the Red Sox had tonight.
The silly thing about any "turning point" candidates is that, in order to be considered for that designation, typically something really dramatic has to have happened. And for something dramatic to have happened, you can pretty much assume that it was no easy win. Said games therefore are much more likely to contain reasons for concern than your average win.
And so, when you follow up a game like that with a loss like this? Well, it looks pretty bad. Yes, the Red Sox have a chance to take a series from the Rangers if they manage to actually pull off the win behind Buchholz. Yes, David Price's start from Friday is still not terribly concerning for all the same reasons. But if this loss comes on the heels of two wins, it comes on the heels also of two near-disasters in games that really should have been heavily in Boston's favor to begin with. They're making the ones that should be easiest close while the games that should be close end up like this.
If there is a turning point waiting at the end of this lengthy stretch in the doldrums, the Red Sox have yet to find it.