It’s a sad, sad day when your goal for the season’s end is just to stay out of last place. And it’s even more sad when you’re in the process of failing at that goal. This series with the Jays was a big opportunity for us to make a dent and claw our way out of the basement. Our loss last night didn’t exactly help our cause.
Unfortunately, it’s very simple. The Jays scored. We didn’t. The end.
Lester took the loss. He gave up three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out seven over the course of seven innings. So it was a very solid, very quality start, and it should never have been the case even remotely that it would be possible for us to lose. The problem was entirely the seventh inning, and objectively speaking, even the seventh inning wasn’t all that bad.
Neither team scored through six and a half, so it was a pitcher’s duel if there ever was one. For our part, we had two men on base in the first and fourth, one on base in the second and seventh, and none on base in the third and fifth and sixth. For his part, Lester was in absolute cruise control. His stuff was as good as I’ve ever seen it; he looked like his old self again, and his struggles this year seemed like distant memories in comparison to how he was throwing. I mean, his cut fastball, which is the natural and default indicator of his performance, had that characteristic sharpness and bite and movement that makes it so fatal for opposing hitters and so hard to read and hit. He allowed a double in the third, gave up a walk and made a throwing error that resulted in a second runner in the fifth, and went one-two-three in the first, second, fourth, and sixth.
The seventh inning was what did us in. Admittedly, maybe if we’d managed to get to the Jays before they’d gotten to us, their getting to us for as many runs as they did may not have had to have been a problem. After two quick outs, Lester gave up a single, which may as well have been a double thanks to a stolen base. Sure enough, it turned into a run on a single in the next at-bat. And then he gave up a two-run home run before ending the inning.
We singled twice in the top of the eighth with one out, but it ended thanks to a double play. The badness continued for our pitchers in the eighth, although it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Bard came on to replace Lester and gave up a double on his very first pitch followed by an RBI single that was stretched in a double thanks to a fielding error by Kalish. He then gave up a four-pitch walk before Miller replaced him. Miller got the inning’s first out but put runners at the corners in the process. Atchison then came on and gave up an RBI single before ending the inning. And we went down in the top of the ninth.
The final score was five-zip. The fact that we couldn’t come up with an answer to that, or any answer to anything at all, is the sad part. Lester hurled a gem. Lester hasn’t hurled a gem in way too long a time. And he finally did in a game that was an opportunity for us to actually sweep a team, let alone win one just to avoid being swept ourselves. And we just couldn’t get it done. Instead of us being the sweepers, we had to settle for a series win, which is still more than we’ve gotten lately.
If that were all, I could deal with it. But there’s more. As of last night’s loss, we are officially eliminated from playoff contention. It is now a certifiable impossibility for us to play postseason baseball this October. Is is the indisputable, cold truth that will usher in a long, hard winter. I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation that it’s something that we’ve known would happen for a while now in the sense that this is not a surprise. Obviously there was still the believing and the keeping of the faith to be done, but at the end of the day, the team’s performance was the team’s performance.
This whole season has just been so epically frustrating. None of the players who were supposed to deliver, delivered. All of the players new on the scene have delivered recently but it’s too little too late. Is it the players? Is it the manager? Is it the brass? We’re on the outside, and we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, so who’s to say? But let’s not kid ourselves. I knew since our previous offseason that something was wrong. It just didn’t feel right. I wanted to be wrong about that because I wanted us to do well, of course, but there was something that was just off. But that doesn’t help things; no matter what, the results are the results. We are now out of the playoffs officially. And even though we knew that this was coming, it’s still painful when it finally happens because, like I said, there’s always that possibility lurking in the back of your mind, that perhaps it really isn’t too late for the team to pull it together. But every time we’ve thought that this year, it hasn’t happened. And now we’ll have nothing to show for it but a pathetic battle for second-to-last place so that we can at least preserve some measure of our dignity. And what makes all of it even worse is the fact that the Yankees are still in it. We didn’t even have an impact on anything October-related. And now we’re going to have to sit back and watch as other teams that are no ours are still playing a month from now.
I’m telling you, I don’t care how not-surprising it is or how much we saw this coming. It still hurts. It’s humiliating and embarrassing and painful and devastating, and it hurts. It doesn’t just hurt because of the simple fact that our season will end when the regular season ends. It also hurts because we never even had a chance.
In other news, the Pats lost to the Cardinals in a close one, 20-18.
Read Full Post »