Thursday, August 09, 2012

50 Games Left for Red Sox

Is it me or has this season seemed much longer than 112 games? Every week feels like a month, every month like half a season.

With 50 games left the Red Sox are only 6 games in the loss column out of the Wild Card. That deficit isn't insurmountable, certainly not given the time the Sox have to close the gap. Even if there are 3 teams the Sox need to leapfrog over while closing that gap.

To use a brutally overused sports cliche, the Sox control their own destiny. Especially since 30 of the 50 games on their remaining schedule are against other teams vying for the AL Wild Card spots.

They play the Athletics 3 times, the Angels 6 times, 9 pivotal games against the Orioles, 6 with the Rays, and 6 against the Blue Jays. If they do well in these 30 games, especially the 9 against Baltimore, then they should make the playoffs.

It's a mixed blessing to face these opponents as it means that the Red Sox will spend most of their last 50 games playing good teams. Apart from these 30 games against Wild Card contenders, they'll play the Yankees 9 times. The only "breaks" for the Sox will be this 4 game series in Cleveland, 4 games against the Royals, and 3 games in Seattle.

I hate the phrase "control their own destiny" so I'll try another way to describe the position the Sox are in: They're responsible. It's on them to beat these Wild Card contenders. They'll have no one to blame but themselves if they fail to beat them.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Beckett: The Worst of What Red Sox Do Worst

Whatever clubhouse problems Josh Beckett may or may not be a part of, the simple on the field facts are that he has undeniably and unequivocally sucked this season. Yesterday afternoon he gave the Sox 5 innings, 8 hits, 8 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 3 homeruns. And that ERA of his is once again flirting with 5.00 (4.97 to be exact).

Among starting pitchers that have enough innings to qualify, he is 86th in ERA. Only 12 starters have worse ERAs.

How long does this guy continue to get the ball? How long until he has a roster spot? How many pitchers out there can give the Sox what Beckett gives them, only for less money, and with less drama?

This loss typifies the Sox season. One part of the team did very well (the offense), but their efforts were sabotaged by other parts of the team (Beckett and the bullpen).

Adrian Gonzalez hit 3 doubles, each time knocking in a run. Cody Ross hit a homerun and knocked in 2. Will Middlebrooks hit a 3 run homer. 9 runs should be enough to win.

But Beckett dug a huge hole for his teammates. And when they were finally clawing their way out of that hole, the bullpen dug it deeper. Clayton Mortensen didn't do his job. Then Alfredo Aceves allowed a sacrifice fly that gave the Rangers the lead. He nearly allowed a 2 run homer after that.

Aceves wasn't meant to be the closer on this team. But they let a pretty good one go. Then they signed one who has a history of injuries. And he got injured.

There are good pieces on this team. And there are bad ones. The bad pieces counter the good pieces and the result is a .500 team. It's like running a faucet on full hot and full cold. The result is a tepid stream of mediumness.

It's only August, but looking forward to the 2012-13 off-season I'd prefer that the Red Sox focus on removing the bad pieces that infest this team, as opposed to adding more good pieces. This team is sick. The top priority should be to get rid of the viruses, the bacteria, and all that ails this team. Then the good pieces can be healthy and thrive.

The Sox are in Cleveland for 4 games. The Indians aren't a good team, and the Sox need wins. This is an opportunity for them to win. Although we've seen them fail to take advantage of such opportunities.

Felix Doubront faces 8-11 Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a good June, but has struggled the rest of the 2012 season.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo