Andy Sonnanstine? Are you kidding me?
On paper, Wednesday afternoon's Red Sox-Devil Rays game looked like a total mismatch. Daisuke Matsuzaka was going for the Red Sox, seeking his 14th win. Going for a Tampa Bay was a rookie with a 1-8 record, and an ERA over 6.30. Daisuke has the best ERA of any American League pitcher since June 1. Sonnanstine, in his last two outings against Baltimore and Texas, had an ERA over 13.00. He had not won since beating Florida in his second MLB outing back on June 10.
The Sox had beaten Tampa Bay the last two nights, and all five times at Fenway this year. They allowed them just one run in two games. They had an emotional, come-from-behind win the night before. I saw this matchup and thought the Red Sox bats would get healthy in a hurry today.
But today they came out flat. It was simply a putrid effort for the first six innings against what has been an awful Devil Rays pitcher. Daisuke simply didn't have it. He had trouble with his fastball, and gave up an early first inning run. He then gave up four in the third, and one in the sixth.
Heck, even Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver have had bad days against lousy teams. It happens. Tampa Bay does have a pretty good hitting team as well. The pitching overall has been very good as of late, especially the starting pitching. As long as they stay healthy, it will be fine. Eric Gagne's outing last night was very good, and I suspect he will be better as time progresses.
But this offensive effort today was simply horrible for the first six innings. They finally broke through in the seventh on a two-run shot by Jason Varitek. They added another run that inning. There was hope when Sonnanstine left and they got into the Tampa Bay bullpen, which has been absolutely terrible.
The Sox got the score to 6-5 in the ninth, with a man on second and no outs. But another scenario that has haunted the Sox all year unfolded again. Dustin Pedroia couldn't get the bunt down, and wound up striking out. Kevin Youkilis, struggling big time, whiffed as well. David Ortiz walked, but Manny Ramirez, who was up there swinging at everything, struck out to end it. Again, the Sox get a man in scoring position in a clutch situation, and he dies there.
Some will take comfort in the comeback today, but the way the game concluded still has me worried. That clutch hit, one that showed up Tuesday, was gone again today. It was really a miserable loss to a bad team. They could have put another game in their pocket today, as the Yankees lost in extra innings. But it was not to be. This could have been worse, as the Yankees tied their game with two outs in the ninth, but lost anyway.
The Red Sox gained a game in the standings since the awful weekend in Baltimore, courtesy of the Orioles, who took two of three from New York. That, of course, is a good thing. But now the LA Angels come to Boston for four. We better see a better effort from the offense this weekend then we did today.