On the bright side: The Red Sox are only four games out of first place. On the down side: these Red Sox show absolutely no signs of life.
It’s simply amazing. Nothing has worked.
Some fans are crying for manager John Farrell to be fired. Some fans are crying for general manager Ben Cherington’s head. Some want ownership to blow up the whole team. Many want all of the above.
Sure there have been some glimmers of hope- some reasons to get excited about this team. Remember when Mookie Betts made that leaping catch at the wall in front of the bullpen at Fenway. Then he hit a home run an inning later. And then stole two bases on the same play. That was awesome. That was this year, right? Actually, it was Boston’s home opener back in early April. Ah, yes, the sweet promise of home openers.
NESN has been using that highlight catch in its promos for over a month. You know why? Because they haven’t done anything else spectacular since. Anybody? Can you think of anything?
Rookie Eduardo Rodriguez gave Red Sox fans a glimmer of hope on Thursday. That would be Thursday, as in the last day the Red Sox won a game.
Farrell has tried everything. He sat David Ortiz down a couple of games so he could go to some mysterious baseball lab and find out what is wrong with his swing. Didn’t work. Farrell has tried shifting the lineup around. Bat Bogaerts a little higher. Move Napoli down. Plug Brock Holt in. Switch Pedroia and Betts in the lineup. Go to a six-man starting rotation.
He has tried being a bit more aggressive on the base paths. Do a little more hit and run. He has held team meetings.
Nothing has worked.
Ben Cherington has been active shuttling players between Boston and Pawtucket. Send veteran Allen Craig down. Call up a different PawSox player, seemingly, every day.
Cherington has even fired pitching coach Juan Nieves. Maybe he’ll fire the bat boy next. Maybe a ticket vendor.
The bottom line is this team is a group of round pegs on a board of square holes. Pablo Sandoval may be the roundest peg of them all. Sunday, it was his fielding error that led to the Red Sox demise in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers.
Throw in another questionable in-game managerial decision and the Red Sox have perfected the art of losing. To watch the ninth inning of Sunday’s game was the same as going to the theater to watch an action movie. The earth would tremble, the sky would be falling, buildings would be exploding, but somehow our hero would walk from the wreckage carrying his damsel to safety. Okay, maybe the analogy isn’t perfect, but the point is the outcome is becoming predictable.
Few people watching the ninth inning on Sunday had confidence the Red Sox and closer Koji Uehara would skate to victory. Just the opposite. Most fans watched the ninth inning through slightly split fingers.
Pablo Sandoval’s error ensured that Prince Fielder — one of the hottest hitters in baseball — would come up to bat. With a runner on second and two outs, Farrell chose to intentionally walk Fielder– putting the potential winning run on first base. It seemed like a wise decision to the casual fan as light-hitting Adam Rosales stood on deck. Easy call. But Farrell is not a casual fan. He is the manager of a major league baseball team and he should have known that the Rangers still had $125-million-man Josh Hamilton sitting on the bench.
With the Rangers down one, and runners on first and second, Josh Hamilton did pinch-hit for Rosales. And he did line a drive into the gap in left-center field where the outfielders were playing far too shallow. And the ball did roll all the way to the wall. And the rotund Prince Fielder did race around all the bases to score the winning run.
Ho-hum. At least the pain doesn’t hurt as much after awhile.