Thursday, July 19, 2007

That Was Embarrassing

You can pick your adjective about the events of this past Red Sox-Royals series that just concluded last night. I found it to be simply embarrassing.

The Kansas City Royals have the second-worst record in the American League. While they have been playing better baseball the last month, and are no longer the doormats of the AL, dropping a series to a team like this at home is just inexcusable.

Watching the Red Sox lately has been roughly the equivalent of getting your teeth pulled. They can get men on base, but they continue to leave men on, especially in scoring position, at an alarming rate. (They are now number one in the AL in that dubious category, leaving an appalling 13 on last night.) It almost seems like when they get a rally going, you just know they won't capitalize on it. (They had a four-run rally in the fourth, and Julio Lugo had a clutch double to drive in two. He's been hot lately, but what people will remember is he failed to drive in Coco Crisp from third in the eighth when they were down, 6-5.)

Sure teams have slumps and the Red Sox are going through one now. But when you see Kansas City on the schedule, those are the ones you have to put away. Especially when one pitcher is making his first ever MLB start and the other is 4-8.

It was another brutal one-run loss, 6-5. Lately, the Red Sox have been dropping one-run games at an eye-popping rate. Julian Tavarez is pitching his way out of the rotation, and his ERA this month is over 8.00. He got off to a good start last night, as he usually does. Three solid innings before the roof caved in. KC scored six runs in the next 2 innings and he was done. (The bullpen, however, was superb. They did not allow a hit the rest of the game.) Tavarez clearly belongs in the pen. He can be an effective two-to-three inning pitcher, so I believe another arm in the bullpen through a trade may not be necessary.

Who to replace Tavarez? Jon Lester leaps to mind, as he pitched a fine game at AAA last night. It has been an up and down season for him at Pawtucket, but his last four starts there have been a lot better. Curt Schilling will be back by the first week in August, as his minor league rehab is about to start. How he will be is anyone's guess. A veteran starter might be a better alternative to a bullpen arm right now as the trade deadline approaches.

And this slump is just inviting the Yankees back into the AL East race. While New York is playing better baseball right now, the Red Sox have to just go out and take care of business and not worry about them. (My friend Jere on his blog pointed out that the Yankees pitching has allowed 48 hits and 17 walks in their last four games, all wins. That's an awful ratio. It just goes to show how bad the teams they've been playing are offensively, leaving runners everywhere. Sound familiar?)

The Chicago White Sox are in town this weekend for what now looks like an important series. It's been a terrible year for Chicago, and the Red Sox have to get down to business and start playing better baseball. The Red Sox are 3-4 on the homestand that began the second half of the season. It's time to calm down a restless fan base.

As for me, the last two nights have been really frustrating, so I am taking tonight off and going out with a dear friend who has no interest in baseball. (But the cell phone will be in possession for updates.)

Then I will jump back into the fire, as I will be going to my first Fenway game of the year on Friday night. I'm praying for good weather, as well as some timely hitting then.

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