Watching the Red Sox this year, I feel like I know what it’s like to be a hamster: you spend all this time and energy running, sprinting even, on this wheel, to the point of exhaustion. Once in a while, you’ll get a little bit ahead of gravity and start to run up the side of the wheel a little bit – look, you can see the sky! Once in a while, you’ll stop for a quick breath and get spun around backwards like you’re on a roller coaster. And at the end, you look down and, despite all the energy, twists, turns and exertion, you’ve gone absolutely nowhere. And you live in a clear box covered in sawdust with (at least if you were my childhood hamsters) the constant threat of love from a six-year-old girl hanging over your head (think Lenny from Of Mice and Men), but that’s a different post.
Like, this week. The Red Sox went every which way, like a hamster on a wheel. They got a little ahead of the game. they got spun around in a few circles. They faced down a trading deadline. They got a little bit lucky. They got two-hit.
And after all that, they’re still at .500, stuck at the bottom of the wheel with nothing but some sawdust and the faltering Toronto Blue Jays to keep them company.
We begin on Tuesday night. The Red Sox, fresh off a pretty quiet trading deadline (the Sox traded for Arizona’s Craig Breslow, a former Sox reliever and former Yalie – this led to some pretty hilarious but moderately unprintable FakePeteGammons tweets about an Eli tandem of Breslow and AAA callup Ryan Lavarnway perfecting their pitching and catching technique), threw Josh Beckett against the powerful Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander. Beckett had been the subject of some pretty pervasive trade rumors, so it was poetic, almost that he took the hill that night.
And, Beckett pitched well. For 2 2/3 innings, that is, before he left the game with back spasms.
Great, right? He’s not on the DL, but murmurs from the Red Sox higher-ups are that Beckett won’t make his next scheduled start this weekend. The Red Sox went on to win the rain-shortened game. The umps called it in the top of sixth inning, when Detroit had the bases loaded with two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate. Which is probably lucky for the Red Sox, honestly – I don’t see that ending well had the skies not literally opened up and started dumping water everywhere. Call me crazy, but I don’t have a lot of faith in Boston’s ability to battle back against that situation this year.
Wednesday night, the Sox staked the Tigers to a 6-1 lead by the fifth inning, before battling back to make an exciting game out of an ultimate 7-5 loser. The Sox ended their four-game win streak, but did manage to take two out of three from the Tigers series. Aaron Cook really spit the bit on this one – the starting pitcher hasn’t performed well over his last three starts. Maybe now that Craig Breslow is here to shore up the bullpen, we can explore the Franklin-Morales-in-the-rotation idea again?
Last night was just… pitiful. There, I said it. The Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins – the MINNESOTA TWINS – 5-0, and got two-hit along the way. Minnesota’s Samuel Deduno just absolutely stymied the Sox lineup over six innings, in only his fifth major league start. The only Red Sox player who could figure him out was Adrian Gonzalez, who notched both hits. There’s just nothing else to say – it was a frustrating game, and the Sox left very little to show for themselves. Jon Lester had yet another tough-luck quality start. Maybe this team just can’t get it together for Lester. That happens – teams will score bunches of runs for some pitchers (like Clay Buchholz) and then peter out behind some other pitchers – but it’s frustrating to watch. Lester’s thrown 11 quality starts this year, but he only has five wins. If anything, given this lineup’s supposed power and consistency on paper, those numbers should be reversed, and the lineup should be able to pick up an occasional bad day by an ace pitcher. Here, though, it’s like Lester is slaving away in some small-market stadium, putting up good numbers but never getting the run support he needs to actually win a game.
Ugh. Back at .500, and now it’s August. Still stuck on the wheel, covered in sawdust.
Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.37 ERA) takes on Brian Duensing (2-6, 4.53 ERA) tonight at Fenway. The Twins are one of only five teams in the American League with a worse record than the Sox – so maybe we can, I don’t know, beat them? Or at least, score a run?