Red Sox Journal
Disastrous End, September 28, 2011
"The last play of the next tragedy in the human comedy that is Red Sox history typified this season, as Carl Crawford, newly signed left-fielder, and all around (even now) Red Sox hope-crusher, let a fly ball drop in to allow the winning run to score in the 9th for the Baltimore Orioles. He had dropped a ball in a similar play that cost the Sox the win on Monday night's game. If he was wearing a Tampa Ray uniform, you know the play would have been made. Jonathan Papelbon had gotten the first two outs in the 9th, with the Sox up 3-2, but then allowed two doubles and a single. Papelbon has now dropped the Sox from contention two out of the last three seasons, as he also blew the save in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS against the Angels.
When the Red Sox score came up 4-3 final at the Tampa Bay Ray's home park, Tropicana Field, where the Rays had been down 7-0 a few hours earlier against the Yankees, and then scored 6 times in the 8th and then a solo homer from Dan Johnson to tie the game, the crowd, or what was left of it, cheered on lustily to torment their newly minted rivals. A couple of pitches later, Evan Longoria, who had hit a 3-run homer in that 5-run 8th, jackknifed a pitch over the short left-field fence, and sealed the Red Sox fate once more. The momentous Rays will move on to play the AL Champion Texas Rangers in the first round, and the spiteful Yankees will go on to play the team that bounced them in the ALDS in 2006 on their way to the pennant, the Detroit Tigers.
Not much can be said in defense of a Sox team that won 5 games out of their last 20, and blew a 9-game lead in the wildcard race during that span. You won't win many games when only three of your starters are hitting. Jacoby Ellsbury hit 32 homeruns in 2011, but almost the rest of the batting order let the team down in the second half. Marco Scutaro, only starting because of injuries to both Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis, showed his worth with a .380 batting average in September, but the starting pitching was horrible. Even John Lester and Josh Beckett blew games that should have been wins. Daniel Bard, a typical bedrock in the bullpen, lost his last 9 decisions of the season, and was extremely wild. The coaching wasn't as solid as you might like to see from two-time World Series winning manager Terry Francona, as it could be said that he gave away several wins, first starting Tim Wakefield, who was in pursuit of his 200th victory, and then lefty youngster Andrew Miller, when Alfredo Aceves, a proven starter was having a great bullpen pitching streak, and looking back, was probably the most valuable arm the Red Sox had all season. The team's pitching was overall just putrid in the end. Now that that's over and done, looking ahead to the 2012 season looks particularly apocalyptic, even IF the world doesn't end when the Mayan calendar does.
The Red Sox have two albatrosses on the payroll for the foreseeable future and one coming off. Carl Crawford, a no-power aging speedster pegged to start the next seven years, paying him $20 million a season, and John Lackey for three more seasons at $16 million a pop. At last the overpriced contract of J.D. Drew is over. If you have a glass half-full type personality, you would say that J.D. earned his whole paycheck with his grand slam in the 6th game of the ALCS against Indians' Fausto Carmona in 2007, starting the onslaught that crowned the Sox comeback from a 3-1 deficit in that series. Drew was absolutely infuriating (more than usual) in 2011 as he took way too many close pitches when pitchers knew he was done and were throwing meatballs to him.
With Clay Buchholz and Kevin Youkilis HOPEFULLY fully recovered in time for spring training, things may not be so bad as they look, and with what just transpired on the field for the Sox, things can only get better, hopefully without many of the pink hats that joined the Red Sox bandwagon in 2004 and 2007.
— Roman Llimar