Last night was simply a terrible effort by the Red Sox against Colorado, as Curt Schilling got hit hard, his defense let him down and the offense was AWOL yet again as the Rockies coasted to a 12-2 victory. It was simply a poorly played game all around, one of those "garbage can games" I like to call it. ("Toss it in the garbage and come out slugging tomorrow.")
At first the matchup, Schilling vs. Josh Fogg (1-5, 5.06 ERA) looked like a mismatch on paper. This looked like the kind of game the offense would get well in. (If you had said the final score of this game would be 12-2, I would have bet my life the Sox would have the 12.) An ominous sign of things to come was Julio Lugo's error on leadoff man Willy Taveras' grounder. He might not have gotten the speedy outfielder, but the rushed throw pbut him on second, and he scored the first run of the game. (More and more to me, the biggest mistake the Red Sox made after winning the 2004 World Series was letting Orlando Cabrera go. This led to the signing of Lugo, and OC is hitting .330 at last check.)
And the mystery that is Mike Lowell's defense continues. He made his 12th error of the season on a throw that allowed a Colorado runner to score. He made just six errors all of 2006, and his career high is 14, in 2002. He has been battling a thumb injury to his left hand, but that was during the last Yankees series. His errors have continued throughout the season.
Schilling just didn't have it last night, giving up 5 earned runs in 5 innings, including a three-run homer to Brad Hawpe that put the game out of reach. But the continued AWOL offense continues to be a concern. Lugo and Coco Crisp continue to be a black hole in the lineup, and J.D. Drew once again looks lost. The Red Sox continue to waste opportunities, and hit into double plays in key situations.
I thought the 10-run game in Arizona might have signalled that the offense was coming out of the recent slumber, but they seem to have gone right back into it. In the last four games, they've scored just 9 runs. Granted, the Red Sox weren't going to play .700 ball the whole year. They can be thankful the pitching has gotten them wins during this dry stretch. It's a long season, and there are valleys now and again.
The Yankees won their 8th straight game last night, and the Red Sox lead is now 8 1/2 games. Even when the Red Sox were up by 14 1/2 over them two weeks ago, only the most cockeyed optimist could believe that that was going to stay that way. (The June schedule for the Red Sox appeared to be brutal before the season started, and it's proving to be so.) There's too much talent in the Bronx for that to happen, but I have to laugh when I see how pleased Yankee fans are that their team's deficit behind the Red Sox is now in single digits.
It's a long season, and I've said this before, and I will say it again now: Whichever team pitches better is going to win this division. I didn't pull the shroud over the Yankees a few weeks ago, and I'm not now. There's still a lot of baseball to played. If the Yankees don't pitch with any consistency, they won't win.
And a special reminder to those Sox fans on the verge of panic:
1. They still have 19 games left with the Devil Rays.
2. Jon Lester will be up in a few weeks, possibly before the All-Star Game.
3. Neither Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz has gone on one of those superhuman roles they are both noted for.
4. Alex Rodriguez may hit 50 home runs this year, but he can't pitch.