It was a perfectly wretched night at Fenway Park on Saturday night, after getting off to what looked like a great start, and it had all the makings of an early rout by the Red Sox. Robinson Tejada started for Texas, and he allowed just two hits to the Sox back in April in a game he outdueled Tim Wakefield, 2-0. But whoever was that pitcher wasn't at Fenway on Saturday, as he had nothing but trouble. He walked the first two hitters, then David Ortiz singled in the first run, and it looked like it was the Red Sox night. They scored two runs, and added two more in the second, and it was 4-0 through three, and Josh Beckett looked superb. Jacoby Ellsbury was called up from Pawtucket before the game and played CF for Coco Crisp, who is nursing a sore thumb. Ellsbury went 1-for-4 in his MLB debut.
But there were omnious signs, as once again the Red Sox continue to waste opportunities to score runs. They left five men on in the first two, and the bases loaded in the second. They simply couldn't put the death blow on Tejada, as he escaped much bigger damage. He went just four innings, as men were left everywhere.
Throughout the game, David Ortiz continues to look lost at the plate (he hasn't hit a home run at Fenway in an absolutely staggering 26 games), and struck out his last two times in the game, including in the ninth. Manny Ramirez continues to struggle as well. Papi has just 13 homers, and Manny 11. Where has their power strokes gone? When are either of these guys going to go on the superhuman rolls we know they are capable of?
And the walls caved in on Josh Beckett in the fourth, as he allowed four runs. His fastball kept missing the corners and catching the middle of the plate, and the Texas hitters weren't fooled. Brad Wilkerson hit a ball to center that would have been out of any other park in the majors, and Sammy Sosa belted the game-winner off Beckett in the fifth, as Texas won, 5-4.
But after that, the Texas bullpen shut down the Red Sox, and they could do nothing until the eighth. Dustin Pedroia doubled with two outs, and wanting some speed on the bases, Terry Francona sent in Julio Lugo (on the bench a second straight night) into run for Pedroia (the one part of Dustin's game that is lacking is the fact he has very little speed). At least going into tonight, Lugo was a perfect 20-for-20 in stolen bases.
With Kevin Youkilis at the plate, Lugo pulled one of the bonehead moves of the season. He was clearly on his own when he tried to steal third base, but Texas catcher Gerald Laird gunned him down. Lugo didn't even bother to try to slide, and was still tagged out (he might have made it if he tried to slide). As the old saying goes about stealing third, "You better make it." And especially, if there are two outs. (Lugo has enough speed to score on just about any single at Fenway, so stealing third makes even less sense. If there was one out, the gamble might be worth trying.)
That killed the inning, and as it turned out, the Red Sox last threat of the game. (They went down without a fight in the ninth, the combo of Youk, Papi and Manny.) If Lugo thought he was going to hear boo-birds the next time he started at Fenway, he's really in for it now. Lugo continues to be a high priced failure, a $36 million bust. Alex Cora had a fine night at the plate, with a double and triple in four plate appearances, so I see no reason to sit him now.
I frankly see no reason to play Lugo now. And I really don't care how much money he's making. He's a black hole in the lineup, and now he's one on the bases, too. And sure as hell is no Gold Glover in the field either.
Wow, what a trifecta. And the Red Sox are stuck with him.