The Red Sox lost their third straight game last night, falling 6-3 to the Texas Rangers. With the loss, the Sox drop to 4-8, good for last place in the AL East heading into this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees.
Fenway Park, April 18, 2012 (credit: Amanda Laws)
I place the blame for this one squarely on the bullpen, and on Boston’s continued anemic offense with runners in scoring position. Josh Beckett wasn’t perfect by any means last night, but he did his job. He threw seven innings and struck out seven while giving up only three runs, largely care of a two-run home run by Mike Napoli in the fourth inning that scored David Murphy. The third run came when Ian Kinsler scored after drawing a walk – consecutive base hits by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton brought Kinsler around. Andrus tried to stretch his single into a double and got thrown out at second – lucky for the Red Sox, since Adrian Beltre hit a followup base hit that probably would have scored Andrus, otherwise.
So, what happened? You guessed it – the bullpen couldn’t hold the American League champion’s offense late in the game. Franklin Morales came in for Beckett in the eighth inning, and promptly gave up a single to Hamilton, an intentional walk to Beltre, and an UN-intentional walk to Nelson Cruz.
With the bases loaded, I turned to my seatmate and told her to get ready to run, becasuse if Franklin Morales walked in a run, the crowd might riot. Luckily for us, Morales didn’t walk in a run – he kept it efficient, and hit pinch hitter Craig Gentry on the foot instead, scoring the Rangers’ fourth run. The boos. Oh, the boos. Napoli poured lemon juice in the wound by knocking a double to right field in the next at-bat, scoring two more to make the score 6-2.
With one out, Morales intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, before finally inducing Brandon Snyder to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the eighth. Matt Albers came in to take over in the ninth, and he pitched a pretty clean frame. But, the damage had been done care of the disastrous eighth inning.
Meanwhile, the Sox bats were quiet again. A David Ortiz double and Kevin Youkilis home run in the second inning gave Boston two of its three runs. By the way, the crowd absolutely loves Kevin Youkilis, who was batting sixth, his lowest spot in the order since 2008. And I quote the guy behind me, as Youkilis’s shot cleared the Green Monster and hit the light tower in left-center field – “take THAT, Valentine!”
The only other Boston run came in the bottom of the ninth off Texas closer Joe Nathan. Cody Ross drew a leadoff walk. Ortiz struck out, but Youkilis kept the game going when he got on base due to a Beltre throwing error from third to first, moving Ross to third base. Ryan Sweeney pinch hit for Kelly Shoppach and scored Ross on a single. At this point, about one quarter of the fans had left Fenway, but those that stayed almost had some… hope? They were doing the thing where they banged on the walls, which I’ve never seen in person before. Unfortunately, the banging on the walls didn’t help – Jarrod Saltalamacchia pinch-hit for Darnell McDonald and lined out to first base – and because Sweeney had to break for second on the hit towards right field, he didn’t tag up and was caught off first base for the last out.
Nathan’s ninth inning was actually the rockiest inning for the Rangers pitching last night. Prior to Nathan’s ninth inning, Alexi Ogando pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, after taking over for Rangers starter Derek Holland, who went seven innings, striking out seven and only giving up the two runs that Youkilis sent over the Monster.
Here’s a link to the box score, courtesy of the Red Sox.
In other news, injured center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who subluxated his right shoulder during Fenway Park’s home opener, opened up to reporters about his injury. According to Ellsbury, he’s icing, then rehabbing, and there’s no timetable set yet for his return. I heard a whispered rumor yesterday (literally, my co-worker whispered it to me) that the Sox were looking hard at journeyman outfielder Scott Podsednik, which could indicate that Boston’s not comfortable with waiting for both Ellsbury and Carl Crawford to return with the personnel they have. Ellsbury did, though, rule out surgery, confirming that it’s not needed:
“We ruled it out. As of right now, I’m focused on getting my work in and getting back as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ll be playing this year, hopefully sooner than later.”
Oh, and, to nobody’s surprise, Mark Melancon was sent to Pawtucket following his disastrous Tuesday night outing. Junichi Tazawa was called up to take his place. Melancon has talent, but it appears he needs regular work in order to get through whatever it is that’s bothering him lately.
The Red Sox have an off day today. They’ll kick off a series with the New York Yankees on Friday for the 100th anniversary game at Fenway Park. Stacy and I will both be there, and we’re excited to celebrate with Red Sox Nation and commemorate the historic event for all of you. Right now, Clay Buchholz is scheduled to face off against New York’s Ivan Nova.