Blog Entry

A Red Sox collapse? Sure looked like it Saturday

Posted on: September 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 10:11 pm
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NEW YORK -- Is this a collapse?

Check back in a few days.

Is this what a collapse looks like?

Absolutely.

Fly balls that could have been caught but aren't. Ground balls that could have turned into outs but weren't. The one starting pitcher you can count on coming up smallest in his biggest start of the season.

Yeah, that's it.

That was the Red Sox on Saturday. And that was just the second inning, in a miserable 9-1 loss to the Yankees.

By night's end, after the Rays finished off their 6-2 win over the Blue Jays, the Boston lead in the American League wild-card race was down to just 1 1/2 games, down from nine games three weeks ago.

That sounds bad, but in any normal situation, up 1 1/2 with just five to play really shouldn't be that bad a place to be. Then again, the Red Sox are starting Tim Wakefield and John Lackey in Sunday's day-night doubleheader against the Yankees.

Up 1 1/2 with five to play isn't bad, if you figure you can win even two or three of the five games. But the Red Sox have won just two of their last 10 games, and just three of their last 16.

The Red Sox are 5-17 this month. They're an incredible 1-17 in games where they don't score 12 runs. They began September in first place in the American League East, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees, and now they're eight games back of New York.

"What you've got to do right now is laugh, just to see if you can fool someone," said David Ortiz, who wasn't laughing.

"We got in a funk," Ortiz said. "We've just got to find a way out."

Sure, with Wakefield and Lackey pitching Sunday.

Saturday, with ace Jon Lester on the mound, was going to be the day they found a way out.

But just as the Red Sox haven't looked like a playoff team this month, Lester hasn't looked like an ace. And just as the Red Sox looked like a collapsing team Saturday, Lester looked like the lead collapser.

He pitched just 2 2/3 innings, in his shortest start of the season and the fourth shortest of his career. He gave up six runs, all in the second inning, just the second six-run inning he has allowed in 153 career starts (and nearly 1,000 career innings).

A day after the Rays' home loss to the Blue Jays had seemingly eased Red Sox concerns, Lester raised those concerns sky-high again.

He wasn't alone.

In that six-run inning, the Sox failed to get an out on an Andruw Jones ground ball to short. Two batters later, Russell Martin hit a fly ball to left field that $142 million man Carl Crawford could have caught.

It would have been a nice catch, but not spectacular. It's a play you'd like to see your big free-agent acquisition (signed in part for his defense) make.

Crawford didn't make it. And Lester followed it up by serving up an opposite-field three-run home run to Derek Jeter.

It was 6-0, and it was basically over.

And the Red Sox were left hoping for more help from the Blue Jays, or more help from the Yankees (who go to Tampa Bay for three games starting Monday night), or for a decent start from Wakefield (one win, 5.83 ERA since the middle of August) or Lackey (a major-league worst 6.49 ERA for the season).

It's not a collapse yet, not unless they complete it.

But it already looks like one, doesn't it?

It sure did Saturday.


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Category: MLB
Comments

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