Last night's game in Oakland was one of those games that just makes you want to pull your hair out. On paper, this looked a game the Red Sox should have won easily. Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. soft-tosser and Old Friend Lenny DiNardo, making just his second start of the season, after being pulled out of the Oakland bullpen, where he'd been an effective long man this season.
Daisuke gutted out a seven-inning, 130-pitch effort. (That's the most pitches thrown by anyone in MLB in 2007.) It wasn't a great performance, as he was in trouble in a few innings, but he definitely could have come away with a win. He struck out 8, allowed just two runs.
DiNardo walked six in six innings, threw more balls than strikes (47-42), but allowed just two hits and no runs. Every time he got into trouble, he was bailed out by some Red Sox player hitting into a double play. They hit into five DPs all told. In the first the Sox had the bases loaded, and came away with nothing. It was portend of things to come last night.
Despite the large lead, I'm not overly happy from what I see of this offense. Lately they have been leaving way too many men on base and hitting into too many double plays in clutch situations. Coco Crisp did it twice last night. More and more, Crisp appears that he'll end up on another team next season. You have to wonder what happened to this guy. He got off to blazing start in his Red Sox career in April 2006, then suffered the broken knuckle on his hand, and doesn't seem to have the same fire since. He's played a better centerfield this season, but with the exception of those two hits against the Yankees this season, he seems lost at the plate. Terry Francona should leave him in the nine hole.
And it's time to raise the white flag on Wily Mo Pena as well. This guy will never mature here in Boston. It was simply a mistake to trade for him. Why keep him if you're going to pay J. D. Drew $70 million over five years to play right? (And God knows, that's looking like a big mistake every day.) Pena needs to go to a team where he can play every day to try to become a legitimate major league ballplayer. Sitting on the bench won't help Pena. It's not going to happen in Boston for him.
Monday night's loss was disappointing, in that the Red Sox came from three runs down to tie the game, but lost on an Eric Chavez homer in the 11th. But last night's defeat was infuriating. It was one of those "they look like they have their heads up the asses" losses. 12 baserunners (3 hits, 7 walks, 1 error and 1 hit batsmen) and no runs. It was a rather lousy effort last night, and just unacceptable, especially against a guy who's not a regular starting pitcher.
The Red Sox have lost 5 of 6, and three straight. It's not a time to panic, but it's not a time to get complacent either. The AL East race is not over yet. Not by a long shot.