As soon as I saw Javier Lopez on the mound instead of Jonathan Papelbon (or anyone else still available for that matter) last night, I knew the Red Sox' 11-game winning streak was sunk. Terry Francona rolled the dice going with Lopez, thinking that with the heart of the Sox order coming up in the 10th he could save Pap for the bottom of that inning, and it came up craps. Big time.
Lopez can't get lefties out, and he can't field his position. In spring training, it's a play that practiced thousands of times. Groundball to the first baseman, pitcher covers first. And yet last night, Lopez covers first as Kevin Youkilis makes a fine play in the hole and feeds him a perfect lob to end the ninth.
Lopez muffs an easy toss, Mark DeRosa scores from second and the winning streak is kaput, 9-8. I would bet if you have "Javier Lopez" in your "The First Red Sox Player to be Designated For Assignment" pool, you are currently at the top. And if you have "Brad Penny," you aren't far behind either.
Another lousy start from Penny, whose ERA is now rapidly approaching 9.00.. He's been getting all kinds of support from the Red Sox offense (38 runs in four starts), and they staked him 7 runs in the first three innings. But he gave it all back in 2 2/3 innings (although three of the runs were unearned). Clay Buchholz is waiting in the wings, and Penny's subpar performances is putting added strain on the bullpen. (Although Hunter Jones was impressive again, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings last night. Another reason why Lopez maybe hitting the road soon.)
Julio Lugo returned from the DL and promptly cost the Red Sox a run, muffing an easy throw on a DP ball from Youk. (Where have I written that before?) He drove in a run later in the game to make it 8-7, but that's what you expect from Lugo.
The Red Sox had leads of 5-1 and 7-3 in this game, but Penny let the Indians back in the game, and it remained 7-7 until the eighth. After it was 8-7 Sox, Takashi Saito (who has also been less than impressive) gave up a homer to DeRosa to tie it again. Then Tito made his fateful decision, and the Sox winning streak came to a disasterous conclusion.
Jon Lester takes the mound tonight to try to get the Red Sox back in the win column against the Indians' Fausto Carmona.